Michael Markarian
Key Player

Chief Program and Policy Officer, Humane Society of the United States; president, Humane Society Legislative Fund; former president, the Fund For Animals.

MichaelMarkarianIn 1997, Markarian wrote an editorial for The Abolitionist, a newsletter co-edited by Paul Shapiro (who would later become an HSUS vice president). That newsletter was the official publication of a Washington, DC-based animal rights group called Compassion Over Killing (COK), which Shapiro helped to found.

In his essay, Markarian builds on the writing of social activist pioneer Bill Moyer (not to be confused with Bill Moyers) and divides animal rights activists into four groups, offering his own ideas about “effective” and “ineffective” examples of each.

Along the way, he appears to defend lawbreaking in the name of “animal liberation”:

While the “citizen” activist says “YES” to that which is right, the “rebel” activist says “NO” to that which is wrong. Direct action, civil disobedience, hunt sabotages, and Animal Liberation Front activities all fall under this category. Activists purposely breaking laws that are unjust, such as hunter harassment laws, or committing acts of civil disobedience to help animals, are effective rebels because they tie the movement’s issues together with First Amendment, freedom of speech, and civil liberties issues. A perfect example of effective rebellion is an Animal Liberation Front raid on a laboratory that frees puppies from its confines and exposes video footage of the researchers torturing the animals. Sure, the activists broke the law, but all of their activities focused directly on saving animals and exposing cruelty. (emphasis added)

So it’s okay to break into a medical research lab and destroy someone’s cancer research, if the ends justify the means? The writer, remember, is the Second-In-Command at HSUS, and head of its lobbying arm.

For the record, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF)—Markarian’s “perfect example of effective rebellion”—is an FBI-designated terrorist group responsible for tens of millions of dollars in property damage and an increasingly cavalier attitude toward the lives of both people and animals. It’s especially worth noting that when Markarian wrote this essay, the ALF’s known crimes already included multiple arsons.

No wonder “Markarian” triggers a suggestion of “Barbarian” from Microsoft Word’s spell checker.