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Claws come out in dispute between animal rights activists

A public falling-out between two prominent animal-rights activists has prompted a restraining order and an arrest, casting light on the volatile mix of personalities that may fuel extreme elements of the animal-rights movement.

Steven Best, an outspoken advocate of  animal rights and philosophy professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, obtained a restraining order on 15 October against fellow activist Camille Marino after she allegedly stalked Best and threatened violence against him. Marino was arrested at her home in Wildwood, Florida, on 19 October for violating the injunction. According to Marino’s website, she had e-mailed Best against the terms of that order.

Marino has earned a reputation for stalking animal researchers in the past and encouraged violent action on her website, which also publishes photographs and addresses of scientists’ homes. For his part, Best has spoken internationally about the justification for extreme animal activism. As a consequence, he has been banned from entering the United Kingdom.

In his request for protection filed in Dona Ana County, New Mexico, Best described Marino as “an old friend”, saying that they had worked together in the past “for the animals”. But he said that Marino had developed a “fatal attraction, love/hate” relationship towards him. Best alleged that in the past several months Marino had harassed him by phone and e-mail, threatened his life and slandered his reputation online.

Best would not speak about the case to Nature, but wrote in his petition that he feared Marino could pose a physical threat to others. “I now fear that person will not be a medical researcher/vivisector she loathes so intensely, but rather me,” he said.

The New Mexico court granted Best’s protective order against Marino, requiring the woman to stay at least 100 yards (about 100 metres) from Best, his New Mexico home and his workplace. The order further required that Marino refrain from contacting Best, except through his lawyers.

“I don’t enjoy the fact that Dr. Best has been targeted, it’s just an ironic twist of fate,”  says David Jentsch, a neuroscientist who works with animals at the University of California, Los Angeles. Jentsch obtained his own restraining order against Marino in 2010 after personal details about him appeared on her website.

Since becoming a target of Marino, Jentsch has followed the animal-rights movement closely, and he argues that Best has, in the past, advocated for the same kind of action against animal researchers that Camille Marino is now directing towards Best.  Still, Jentsch says that everyone, including Best, deserves to exercise legal protections against stalking and threatening speech.

“If more often we get these orders and these people defy them and go to jail, cyberstalking and cyberbullying is going to diminish,” says Jentsch.

Marino is scheduled to be tried in Detroit, Michigan, on 14 November on separate charges of aggravated stalking against Donal O’Leary, a cardiovascular researcher at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

Comments

  1. Report this comment

    Dario Ringach said:

    Unfortunately, the is a larger issue that is masked by the limited coverage here. The central issue is not the fight among two animal activists, but the increased acceptance by “mainstream” animal activists that they are entitled to the use of harassment, threats, intimidation and violence to force their views upon the rest of society.

    For example, ask the leadership at PeTA if they feel the violence and tactics used by Marino and Best are justified to achieve their goals.

    Or read this apology of crime published in the Huff Post yesterday —

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leighton-woodhouse/animal-liberation_b_2012426.html

  2. Report this comment

    John Evans said:

    Best was a lot more than just a friend to Marino, he helped to provide financial support to her campaigns of harassment and intimidation against students and scientists, even setting up a PayPal account in his name through which supporters of animal rights extremism could fund Marino’s activities.

    Adding to the irony of this whole affair is that Best included a news report on Camille Marino’s campaign of harassment against a Wayne State University professor in his request for a restraining order, even though he himself had been happy to provide both ideological and financial support to that very campaign just a few months previously, see http://speakingofresearch.com/2011/12/20/best-of-friends-university-of-texas-professor-helps-to-fund-extremism/

    I actually feel a little sorry for Camille Marino, she clearly has a serious psychological disorder and needs treatment, but Best’s willingness to use her as a proxy in his terror campaign when it suited him and then later use the very behavior that he openly encouraged as evidence against her is deserving of the greatest contempt.

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    Igraine Pendragon said:

    On the contrary Dario, what this masks is an issue perpetuated by yourself, Jentsch and the media who love inflammatory, threatening rhetoric and to paint people who are for REAL scientific research and not archaic animal experimentation as unbalanced, violent activists.
    Neither Dr. Best or Camille Merino represent the movement as a whole without whom you would have NO animal welfare rules – yes the animal welfare guidelines you and your ilk keep on quoting as the one’s you abide by wouldn’t even have been instigated without the animal rights movement. Your entire macabre industry wants to be unfettered in your ridiculous attempts at scientific research and to hide your animal abuse behind locked down facilities not because you are concerned with a few who would risk their lives to rescue your victims but because – god forbid – if the actual real information and photographs got released to the general public, then you and I both know that would be the end of vivisection and ergo the millions of tax-payers dollars people like you, Jentsch and London earn to pay for your million dollar homes and lifestyles.
    There is only one set of psychotic, violent, pathological, lying, terrorists here and that’s you and the rest of your industry who daily beat, torture, terrorize, experiment on without anesthesia and induce extreme pain in your quest for power and fame – listen to their screams Dario, unless you also cut out their vocal chords. I can’t imagine they don’t come to you in your dreams.
    Funny how this article of course quotes Jentsch, who is seemingly ever ready to whine to press, and has managed to discover an argument between two activists on some blogs somewhere. Not really interested in actually debating the issue just trying to make everyone look bad.

    1. Report this comment

      Dario Ringach said:

      Perfect example. Thank you for making my point about threatening rhetoric being commonplace among animal rights activists. Anything else you care to add?

  4. Report this comment

    Rochelle Guerrero said:

    This is not a dispute and this has nothing to do with animal rights; but one persons sick obsession with another person to the point where the victims life is so disrupted that it encompasses every aspect of daily living. The average person has no idea what it is like to be the object of someones obsession; to everyone else it looks and seems like you’re over reacting as the stalker usually hides what they are doing and it is only apparent to the person being stalked. This is all very calculated so the stalker maintains this look of innocence in public all the while doing all they can to torment the victim.
    I find it difficult to see how anyone can take this woman, Camille Marino, seriously, she seems to be an utter disgrace and complete distraction to the animal rights community and is either extremely disturbed or a government plant to cause dissension within the movement.

    1. Report this comment

      Dario Ringach said:

      Yes, it has much to do with the “mainstream” animal rights movement. PeTA, for example, has consistently failed to speak against the violence of animal rights extremists. They merely “understand the frustration” of activists. An activist’s frustration is justification for violence? Really?

  5. Report this comment

    David Jentsch said:

    What I hope is apparent to all is just how hypocritical it is for some animal rights activists to now show up and proclaim that Camille Marino is disturbed or somehow not representative of their movement. For 3 years, she has received wide ranging support from many of these same activists. She talked about the murder of researchers; she directed people to harass college students and children; she waged campaigns of criminal threats against people around the country… Did any activists stand up and call her disturbed then? Mostly no. Apparently, it took her turning her disturbed behavior on other activists before they would call it for what it is. In doing so, these individuals show just how morally bankrupt and opportunistic they are.

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