A little serious, a little satire, and all opinion on animal welfare.
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The Scumpany You Keep: The Center for Consumer Freedom

Posted by Karel Minor in Uncategorized

Following the receipt of a request of a retraction and threatened legal action which our small, local charity would be unable to sustain, two sentences have been retracted from this blog.  We are in good company. Click here to see a similar demand sent to a Pulitzer Prize wnning author for merely reprinting what someone else said.  Click here for a summary of defamation defenses.  Since mere vulgarity is one, I will say that I removed the “offending” lines because I don’t want to have to lawyer up over the wounded feelings of a lobbyist douchebag.

If you found out someone who attacked the credibility of research on the impact of mercury in the food supply was funded by the food processing industry, what would you think of their claims?

If you found out someone who attacked legislative efforts to curb underage drinking was funded by the alcohol industry, what would you think of their claims?

Now, what if you found out that the group attacking one of the largest and oldest animal welfare organizations in the world, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), often employing front groups and faux non-profits, was funded by a consortium of meat producers and food processors? What would you think of their claims then?

That is exactly what Rick Berman and his Center for Consumer Freedom are doing. This so-called non-profit group specializes in saving us from the tyranny and dastardly deeds of such groups as the HSUS- and the Centers for Disease Control, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine.

They do it with funding provided by such corporate good citizens as Philip Morris Tobacco (their “charity’s” founding donor), Cargill Processed Meats, and Monsanto. They do it by attacking the credibility of scientific studies, personally attacking those representing opposing views, and by turning the opposition against one another.

It is the last one which CCF is attempting to do right now. CCF is trying to turn local animal shelters against the HSUS. They are trying to pit one group of animal advocates against another group and are hoping that no one will notice who is paying them to do it.

But the saying that we are judged by the company we keep holds true and CCF should be judged guilty.

This sentence has been retracted at the request of Rick Berman. Click here to read the public letter he sent which contains the sentence.

They have every right to do so, just as we have every right to fight for any agenda we wish to promote.  This sentence has been retracted at the request of Rick Berman.  Click here to read the public letter he sent which contains the sentence. We have the right to disagree. But it is the underhanded and surreptitious way they go about doing it, and the hidden money behind the efforts, which should be called into question with the CCF.

In their attack against HSUS, they play on the long standing- and very real- confusion many people have about HSUS’ relationship with local animal shelters. Primarily that there is one when there isn’t. I work at a private non-profit humane society so I regularly find myself explaining to people that we don’t get money from HSUS. But people are confused about a lot of things. I also regularly deal with people who tell me their Golden Retriever is a Yellow Lab. I don’t blame their confusion on the dog.

But CCF’s claim that I’d be getting all my animals adopted if I just got my share of the money raised by HSUS is plain stupid and plays on the ignorance of the public and even those in animal welfare. Even if the HSUS’s, let’s say, one hundred million dollars a year, was given locally as opposed to support their national efforts, that wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans. In fact, assuming a low ball number of just 5,000 animal shelters in the US, that comes out to a whopping $20,000 per shelter. Wow, stop the presses- that’ll really make a dent.

But the CCF knows this. This know that by making big scary claims and using big numbers they can make people think, even animal people, that HSUS is the problem and keep HSUS on their heels. That is the real reason behind it. When they create sweet little pro-shelter animal websites, using testimonials by HSUS ex-employees (beware testimonials by ex-employees- what did you think of your last boss?), they aren’t doing it to help the animals, they are doing it to muddy the waters.

They know what I know. No single animal shelter can really make much of a difference nationwide. But one huge organization like HSUS, which can improve legislation across the nation, can help make animal shelters more effective, and can respond in meaningful ways to natural disasters, can make a difference and that difference isn’t always in the best interests of the food processors and their stock holders. That’s why CCF attacks HSUS.

We- animal welfare organizations, animal advocates, little organizations and big, and anyone who cares about animals- have more in common with each other that we will ever have with CCF and the corporate funders they shill for. We may fight like siblings at times but we are fundamentally the same family. We can’t let some interloper come in and tell us we should hate one another. We can work out our differences on our own, thank you very much, CCF.

And speaking of who represents and misrepresents whom, who does support CCF and who does CCF support? Reportedly, and it’s only reportedly because their “donors” choose to remain largely anonymous, they have 100 corporate supporters and “thousands” of individual supporters. Of course, our little Berks Humane has nearly 10,000 supporters annually. HSUS has millions of supporters annually. Who really represents the will and beliefs of the American people, I wonder?

Who do they fund? Their 2009 IRS 990 tax return shows that they gave a six million dollar grant (of their eight million dollar income) to the Employment Policies Institute, a group which fights to oppose increases in the minimum wage. Again, whose freedom is that protecting? Another $1.5 million went to their director Rick Berman’s private consulting company for “management services”.

CCF has every right to promote their regressive, anti-worker, anti-animal, anti-science, pro-big business agenda all they like. But we have the right to ignore them or fight against them and we should.

I may not agree with HSUS or many others of my colleagues in animal welfare from time to time, or even most of the time in some cases. But if I had to pick a side, I know what side I’m picking.

We know what side the Center for Consumer Freedom has picked and it’s not our side or the animal’s at all, no matter what misleading, mudslinging claims they make. I would say that when the CCF chose to lie down with dogs we shouldn’t be surprised that they got fleas. Only that’s an insult to dogs. And to fleas.

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