Last week in Cleveland, animal-rights activist Meredith Lowell, 35, stabbed another woman three times, allegedly for no other reason than that she was wearing fur boots. Mercifully the victim survived, while Lowell has been charged with attempted murder.
It’s impossible to say at this point how Lowell justified this act of extreme aggression, but before I get accused of making excuses for her, let’s get one thing straight: there can be no excuses. Unless, of course, she’s found to be insane. The buck stops with her, and she must now face the consequences of her actions.
FURTHER INFORMATION: Police: Ohio woman stabbed another in belief she was wearing fur. Associated Press, Nov. 22, 2019.
That said, we all know that advocates for causes can commit extreme acts that they wouldn’t even consider if there weren’t others egging them on.
At one time, attacking abortion doctors was a trend in the US, and presumably each new attacker felt more emboldened knowing that others had gone before them. In the 1990s, when fear of secondhand smoke was bordering on hysterical, a Japanese youth shoved an old man under a train for smoking on a station platform, killing him. I’m sure there are many similar stories.
Obviously the kind of people who commit these acts feel very strongly, at least in the heat of the moment, that their aggression is justified. And perhaps they even developed their convictions independently of any outside influence. More often than not, though, they are inspired to act by the propaganda of lobby groups that fuels their nascent beliefs.
Which raises the question: is society doing enough to silence groups that incite others to violence? Yes and no. There is already a slew of legislation to combat hate crimes based on race, religion and sexual orientation. But other inciters of violence are slipping under the radar, including extreme animal rights groups. Nothing is being done to mute their often hateful rhetoric – rhetoric that may have turned Meredith Lowell into a would-be killer.
A Picture Paints a Thousand Words
The Internet is now awash with animal rights propaganda depicting animal users as evil incarnate. “Meat is murder!” they cry. But this picture above, from the 2003 PETA campaign “Your mommy kills animals!” says it all.
Aimed specifically at teenagers, what effect did PETA think this comic-book campaign would have? Could Meredith Lowell, who was then about 19, have seen it? If not, there were, and still are, plenty of other materials she probably saw.
The message, of course, is brutally clear. It tells children that if their mommy wears fur, she is a bloodthirsty psycho who derives pleasure from killing animals in the most gruesome manner possible. It then asks children to confront their mommies with their blood-curdling acts of barbarism.
For lucky parents, of course, this might turn into an important teaching moment – an opportunity to inform their children that groups like PETA are full of it and mommy knows best. Or it could go very badly.
It’s certainly not hard to imagine that Meredith Lowell was exposed to this kind of vicious propaganda, and that this provided her feeble mind with justification for stabbing a woman three times for wearing fur.
Yes, it is Meredith Lowell who stands charged with attempted murder, and she alone must now face the music. But perhaps part of the blame also rests with the animal rights movement for making her think she did the right thing.
UPDATE: Woman found not guilty by reason of insanity in Cleveland Heights church stabbing over faux-fur boots. Cleveland.com, Feb. 25, 2020.
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