- Animal rights activist
- Advocates violence against people who harm animals in any way
Gary Yourofsky is an animal rights activist who openly endorses violence against humans and supports eco-terrorist organizations. He was born in 1970 in Oak Park, Michigan, where he lived until the age of 25. Once a meat-eating, leather-shoe sporting everyman, Yourofsky, by his own account, became a convert to the cause of veganism (a more puritanical version of vegetarianism) and animal rights after attending the circus with his stepfather, a professional circus clown, in his early twenties. There, as he recounted to one interviewer, he saw an elephant with “nothing but fear and hopelessness in her eyes” and became convinced that “something was wrong.”
Soon thereafter Yourofsky became a leading figure in the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), which has a well-documented reputation for vandalism, sabotage, and arson. In April of 1997, Yourofsky led a gang of ALF militants in a raid on a Canadian fur farm, in the course of which they “liberated” 1,542 mink. For his crime, Yourofsky served a 77-day stint in maximum security lock-up. (Many of the freed mink perished in the wild.) Yourofsky was unapologetic. The assault on the fur farm, he would later muse, was of a piece with his mission “to do everything in my power legally and illegally to facilitate positive and meaningful changes for my planetary companions.”
In 1997 Yourofsky wrote an article titled “Empathy, Education & Violence: A Time for Everything,” which he updated in 2005. Declaring that “violence” was preferable to “apathy,” the article carried the following admission: “Given the choice of apathy or someone liberating mink, burning down a research torture-laboratory, or killing a vivisectionist or other DIRECT murderer of animals, I will choose the aforesaid actions over apathy any day of the week.” Elsewhere in the article, Yourofsky declared his belief that “since violence is an essential part of activism, even if an abuser of animals perished during a fire or other form of direct action, I would unequivocally support that, too.” “The time has come,” he added, “to forcibly free our family members from their captors, even if that means injuring or killing someone in the process.”
Between 1997 and 1999, Yourofsky was arrested 13 times. During that period, he also became financially destitute. In a 2001 interview with the Toledo Blade, he confessed that he had trouble providing for his dog Rex and owed “at least $30,000 on credit cards.” In a 2002 email to supporters, reproduced on the website AnimalRights.net, Yourofsky revealed that he had “been on the brink of homelessness as well for about six months now.“ He added that he would be taking a temporary respite from activism in search of more gainful employment, which he soon found with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), where he was appointed to be a “humane education lecturer” who would speak to audiences of college, high-school and even middle-school students.
But Yourofsky soon quit his job with PETA, on grounds that he considered the organization a “hindrance to the animal liberation movement” for its insufficiently militant tactics. He denounced PETA co-founder and president Ingrid Newkirk as a “serial cat killer” who “has turned PETA into an efficient killing machine mirroring the companies … she claims to despise” — a reference to reports that the organization occasionally euthanizes some of the animals it takes in.
Yourofsky has since declared himself an ambassador of “ethical veganism.” As a representative of ADAPTT (the acronym for Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today and Tomorrow), a Royal Oak-based nonprofit which Yourofsky founded in 1996, he has become a mainstay on college campuses. Professors have routinely invited Yourofsky to counsel their students on the evils of eating meat and the concomitant righteousness of veganism and vegetarianism. The ADAPTT website devotes an entire page to the testimonials of these professors. Yourofsky boasts on the site that, as of 2006, he had given nearly 1,000 lectures in 130 schools and enjoyed the audience of thousands of “carnivorous students.”
Yourofsky refuses to renounce his advocacy of violence and lawbreaking in the service of animal rights, as evidenced by his essay “Abolition, Liberation, Freedom: Coming to a Fur Farm Near You,” which was featured in the 2004 book Terrorists Or Freedom Fighters?: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals. (The foreword for this book was penned by Colorado University professor Ward Churchill). In a billet-doux to the eco-terrorist group, Yourofsky writes: “If people truly want to end terrorism,” they need to “support the courageous ALF activists and liberate animals from places of terror.” In defense of his view that “ALF activists are not terrorists,” Yourofsky insists that “it should never be viewed as a crime to try to forcibly stop” the supposed “animal exploiters.” On the contrary, according to Yourofsky, “It is an act of compassion and courage.”
In Yourofsky’s view, ALF is carrying on the proud tradition of American abolitionists: “Without question, ALF liberations are akin to Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, which assisted in the liberation of blacks from white slave owners.” When asked in a 2001 interview whether he would object to the death of an “animal abuser” while burning down a research lab, he said: “I would unequivocally support that, too.”
A similar question in a 2005 interview prompted Yourofsky to say the following: “I hope that fathers accidentally shoot their sons on hunting excursions, while carnivores suffer heart attacks that kill them slowly. Every woman ensconced in fur should endure a rape so vicious that it scars them forever. While every man entrenched in fur should suffer an anal raping so horrific that they become disembowelled. Every rodeo cowboy and matador should be gored to death, while circus abusers are trampled by elephants and mauled by tigers. And, lastly, may irony shine its esoteric head in the form of animal researchers catching debilitating diseases and painfully withering away because research dollars that could have been used to treat them was wasted on the barbaric, unscientific practice of vivisection.”
This profile is adapted from the article “Animal Rights Extremism Meets Academia,” written by Jacob Laksin and published by FrontPageMagazine.com on April 19, 2007.