Last Update: 05 Feb 00
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"Extremism" is a word we hear more and more these days. It's not that we now have more people with strange ideas than we have had in the past. It's just that today's political and social attitudes make it easier for these people to sound off and be heard.
Extremism can be difficult to define. I prefer to think of it as a strongly-held system of beliefs that is shared by a tiny minority of the population who have no problem with using violence or anti-social behavior to try to gain attention for their cause. Extremism can come from either the liberal or conservative side of the political spectrum or could well be apolitical in nature. It may or may not involve religious convictions, but the extremist usually exhibits what might otherwise be known as "religious fervor".
Extremists are normally people who are in serious need of "getting a life". If it wasn't for the often violent behavior that tends to accompany the expression of their beliefs, they would most likely be laughed at and/or ignored. One can't help but wonder if there's anything else in their lives that means anything to them.
Extremists come in many flavors -- from AIDS activists to anti-abortionists to rabid environmentalists to private militia to good, old-fashioned terrorists. The ones that I really can't figure out, however, are the animal-rights activists.
The whole notion that animals have "rights" in the same way that humans do is preposterous. "Rights" are tenets of human law that apply only to humans. Having mercy on animals is not the same as endowing them with "rights". Using common sense and not engaging in the wanton slaughter of animals is also not the same as saying that animals have "rights".
Nature is not a kind place. The sick, weak, and less capable do not last long. Carnivorous animals must prey on other animals in order to survive. Man is little different. Although we are omnivorous and can survive on plant food alone (how well is still a good question), our primary source of food comes from animals. Also, since we don't have our own protective layers of fur, we must clothe ourselves. Prior to the invention of synthetic fibers, the primary source (and still the best source) of warm, protective clothing was animals.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals -- better known as PETA (an acronym I prefer to translate as People for the Eating of Tasty Animals) -- has seemingly taken upon itself the task of putting a stop to Man's use of animals for anything. Among other things, they put on campaigns decrying the wearing of furs, they moan and groan about "humane" ways of killing animals, and they promote the elimination of meat from the diet. Of course, it's hilarious to see how many things these folks own that are made from leather. One also wonders how many of them enjoy ham and cheese omelettes. I'd like to see them go out into the jungle and try to stop a hungry lion because of the "inhumane" way it kills its prey.
Another popular (at least in the media) group of extremists are those who form private militia groups to combat the "secret government", the "UN takeover of the world", and the "total dismemberment of the Constitution". This is much the same mentality as possessed by those who scream about how this country is becoming a "police state" when they get pulled over for a traffic violation. Wake up, guys! It ain't happening, and it ain't about to happen. Why the federal government wants to enter into conflicts with them is beyond me. If they want to spend all of their money on firearms and go hole up in a remote shack in the uncharted hills of Montana, more power to them. Until they come out with guns blazing, who cares?
Because of the violence tendencies inherent in extremism, it can't be ignored. However, let's not make the mistake of thinking that they're anything more than a relative few disgruntled people who probably don't really need much more than a good spanking and an early bedtime without supper.
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