“A two minute conversation with an all-too-common empathy-deficient dullard reveals how morally perverse it is that the prevailing paradigm enables (and even encourages) those who derive pleasure from torturing and murdering defenseless beings.”
Jason Miller and Bite Club of KC vs Michael Meadors and the Johnson County Parks and Recreation District
Journal Entry by Jason Miller
On 12/14/09, my activist allies and I took the deer war in Shawnee Mission Park (aka Death Park) into the courtroom. We filed a Temporary Restraining Order to stop Michael Meadors and the Johnson County Parks and Recreation Division from slaughtering an additional 80 deer with bows and arrows. As is the case with most grass roots animal rights activists and groups, we operate on a severely limited budget, so I filed this action pro se. Acting in that capacity, I could only represent the entity of Bite Club of KC and myself. However, I spoke for billions of wildlife lovers, animal rights activists and nonhuman animals as I sat in that courtroom.
Understand that just as we did throughout this crusade for the deer, when my allies and I entered the courthouse for the hearing on 12/14 we had monumental obstacles to overcome in order to stop the slaughter.
Six months of intense on-the-street activism (during which time I engaged thousands of people in an effort to persuade them that we needed to manage the deer herd via nonlethal means) gave me numerous daily reminders of the ugly reality that many people wear blinders to shield them from the abject cruelty of the war our species is waging on other animals (most of them expressed support for our cause once educated), some simply give an apathetic shrug of the shoulders, and, disturbingly, there are those who take sadistic delight in inflicting misery upon our animal brethren.
Speciesism is a perverse worldview that is so tightly stitched into our social fabric that it will take years of intensive efforts to extricate it from our midst. A two minute conversation with an all-too-common empathy-deficient dullard reveals how morally perverse it is that the prevailing paradigm enables (and even encourages) those who derive pleasure from torturing and murdering defenseless beings. Our anthropocentric, speciesist legal system enshrines and protects the “rights” of these sociopathic humans to molest and annihilate innocent sentients. In the eyes of the law, nonhuman animals are objects, commodities, resources, or at best, pets (who are afforded a bit more protection than other animals but who are still classified as property).
Just as they had been throughout our campaign, the odds in the courtroom were stacked against us in a significant way. Numerous groups have sought legal intervention to stop wildlife culls, and despite having the advantage of legal representation, few (if any) have been able to persuade judges to issue an injunction. Since nonhuman animals have no legal rights, they have no standing in a civil action. Acting as their proxy is a challenging proposition because to get the courts to intervene, the people filing the TRO or injunction have to prove that the cull would harm them in some way or that officials had acted in an arbitrary or capricious manner.
Despite knowing the odds, my tenacious nature spurred me to make the attempt. And despite Judge Kevin Moriarty denying the Temporary Restraining Order (a decision with which I never stated I agreed—I merely stated that I appreciated his thoughtful consideration of the case) there were a number of gains made on behalf of nonhuman animals and the cause of animal rights:
1. While I anticipated the possibility of a quick ruling against us, Judge Moriarty considered assertions from both sides for 45 minutes before rendering a decision. I disagree with his decision not to issue the TRO, yet I applaud his sincere consideration of our case, his recognition that nonlethal wildlife management would be superior to culling or hunting in Shawnee Mission Park, and the respect that he afforded me and our position.
2. Judge Moriarty noted that people generally don’t like the idea of killing wildlife and asked Meadors what they intended to do to prevent this problem from arising in the future. Meadors stated that JCPRD intended to use nonlethal means to manage the deer population in Shawnee Mission Park next year.
3. I got an opportunity to expound upon the assertions I had made in the Affidavit that I filed with the TRO– quoting from emails, citing documentation, and elaborating upon my analyses and conclusions. While Judge Moriarty ruled that, in his opinion, they weren’t enough to demonstrate that Meadors and JCPRD had acted in arbitrary or capricious ways, my arguments and assertions are now a matter of public record and a number of them led Judge Moriarty to vigorously question the opposition, and in some cases, express disdain toward them.
4. There were times throughout the hearing when I seriously thought Judge Moriarty was going to grant the Temporary Restraining Order, and when he finally concluded that, in his opinion, he could not issue the TRO within the framework of the law, he was quite sympathetic to our position and cautioned Meadors and JCPRD that he didn’t want to see us in this position again next year. Because, as he stated, “that would mean that we hadn’t learned from our mistakes.”
5. While the bow hunt (disguised as a thinning of an already decimated deer herd) may run its course this year, my allies and I exerted tremendous pressure upon Johnson County officials in myriad ways from many angles throughout our campaign. My attorney friend commented that the Motion to Dismiss that JCPRD filed in response to our TRO entailed about $5,000.00 worth of legal work. There were at least seven members of JCPRD upper management present at the hearing. We may not have prevented them from killing more deer, but as we did throughout our relentless campaign, we gave the ‘powers that be’ serious hell, educated the public, inspired animal rights groups around the world by showing that local grass roots groups can go head to head with those with the power and money, and created some serious obstacles to future slaughters in Shawnee Mission Park.
6. It is now a matter of public record that Meadors and JCPRD plan on implementing nonlethal methods to manage the deer population in Shawnee Mission Park going forward. Meadors also made a similar pledge in a phone conversation that he had with wildlife defender and Global Anti-Hunting Coalition founder Anthony Marr on 12/9/09.
We are going to hold JCPRD’s feet to the fire on their promise to use nonlethal means going forward. And if Lloyd Fox, Ken Payne, and their merry band of murderers think they’ve opened the door to an annual bow hunt in Shawnee Mission Park, they’re in for one hell of a fight. Bite Club of KC and now the Global Anti-Hunting Coalition aren’t going away, and next year the pro-kill faction won’t have a severe deer over-population problem as a means of duping the public into thinking a slaughter is necessary so that they can engage in their serial killing in an urban park.
And who’s to say what else may happen before this year is out…..
Here are some links to local media coverage of our legal battle:
Watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIjanhKqVC4 and go vegan. Do it for your health, for nonhuman animals and for the Earth!
To support or undertake animal rights and liberation activism in the Kansas City area, visit Bite Club of KC athttp://biteclubkc.wordpress.com/ and email us firstname.lastname@example.org.