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Movie Review: Your Mommy Kills Animals

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Ever since Greenpeace started photographing pictures of baby seals being clubbed to death during the annual seal hunt in Newfoundland Canada and putting themselves between whalers' harpoons and their prey, the issue of humanity's relationship with the creatures we share the planet with has become an increasingly hot topic. The fur industry, cosmetic industry, soap companies, food industry, whaling industry, and companies that use animals in any sort of laboratory testing have all been subject to intense scrutiny, and forced to change their practices due to the activities of groups like Greenpeace and Sea Shepherds.

It wasn't that long ago when it was considered perfectly acceptable for a company to do whatever it wanted to animals when it came to testing if their latest shampoos would make your eyes water. Now of course no one would dream of putting out a shampoo or skin care product which didn't contain the magic words "NO ANIMAL TESTING" or variations on that theme or risk the ire of animal activists. Huntington Life Services found out what that mean as the campaign against them was so successful that it resulted in various corporations across the United States severing ties with it, and the company being forbidden from trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Like any other emotionally charged issue where people tend to check their brains at the door and have knee-jerk responses on both sides of the argument, finding anything approaching a fair and balanced look at the issue has been next to impossible. It hasn't helped matters that the government of the United States has rushed to protect the people that guarantee their elections each year by passing the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act in 2006 making activities affecting the profit-making ability of a business conducting animal testing an act of terrorism under the Patriot Act. Heavy-handed reactions like that aren't liable to create conditions conducive to calm and rational debates.

Your Mommy Kills Aminals Poster.jpgSo I was delighted to find that the documentary feature film Your Mommy Kills Animals, just released on DVD, made a concentrated effort to be as unbiased and even-handed as possible. While it's obvious the makers have sympathy for the work done by certain organizations in regards to animal welfare, and they regard the prosecution of individuals charged and sentenced under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act as unconstitutional, they do their best to merely observe and report.

The film is not for the fainthearted or squeamish as it contains footage smuggled out of facilities where testing on animals is conducted, and other imagery of cruelty to animals. While it could be argued that including this footage detracts from their impartiality, it is part of the reality that the movie is documenting. They have done their best to keep those scenes to a minimum and keep them in context rather than exploiting the imagery for an agenda.

One of the first things the filmmakers do is differentiate between the two types of groups working in the United States to alleviate the suffering of animals. Animal welfare groups are primarily organizations that run shelters and rescue facilities for domesticated and companion animals (pets). Animal activists are the groups whose primary focus is preventing the use of animals in industry — factory farms, the fur industry, medical and cosmetic testing — and what they consider the exploitation of animals for entertainment purposes (zoos and circuses primarily).

The first part of the film is given over to explaining what exactly each group does, and the differences in their approaches to the issue of animal protection. The people who run the shelters and rescue facilities have as their primary concern keeping the animals alive and giving them a safe haven from a world that's treated them badly. Most of these facilities exist as chances of last resort for animals who otherwise would be put down by local or city-run animal shelters, or who have been abandoned in the wild by their owners.

These people come across as being just what you'd expect them to be – warm, generous, and compassionate humans who have devoted their lives to caring for animals. Something this movie makes abundantly clear is that in spite of the impression they might give to the contrary, the United States Humane Society (USHS) does not run or fund any animal shelters whatsoever. When you give money to them, none of it will find its way to your city-run Humane Society or shelter. In fact the impression one gets of the United States Humane Society is of an organization more concerned with its image than actually carrying out the business of saving animal lives.

While the animal welfare people come across as intelligent and caring individuals, the animal rights people aren't necessarily as easy to like. The tactics they use are pretty much the same as those used by the anti-abortion groups: demonstrating at employees' homes at all hours of the day or night, committing acts of vandalism at facilities that conduct animal testing, spraying graffiti, liberating the animals, all the way up to and including arson. Their goal is to foster an environment where these companies are unable to conduct business unless they cease animal testing.

Whether we like them or not, they have had a certain amount of success in achieving their goal of making it increasingly difficult for companies to conduct business in the manner to which they were accustomed. In fact it's their very success which caused the implementation of the new act mentioned earlier in this review. Of the first seven individuals who were charged under that act, six have been found guilty and been sentenced to anything from one to six years in jail and ordered to pay one million dollar fines; are all interviewed in this film and don't seem any more dangerous than you or I.

None of them were charged with actually carrying out any acts of violence, and none of them have taken part in any activities described earlier. They were all charged because of information that was posted at a website encouraging people to take action against Huntington Life Sciences, in spite of the fact there is no proof linking them directly to the website's publication. As a person in the film who doesn't agree with their tactics said, though, the most troubling part of all this is the fact that they were charged for advocating activities that anti-abortion groups, anti-homosexual and AIDS organizations groups, and the Klu Klux Klan are allowed to advocate or carry out with impunity. America's cherished constitutional clause guaranteeing free speech seems to be very selective.

You may have noticed that I've not mentioned People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in this review, and been wondering why a film about animal activism doesn't talk about them. First of all, PETA refused to be interviewed for the movie and so they weren't able to rebut any of the accusations leveled against them. It seems that people on both sides of the issue, form the animal rights camp to the animal welfare camp and the people who argue in favour of animal testing, can agree on at least one thing — an intense dislike of PETA.

While most people seem intent on preserving the lives of animals, or making their situation better, PETA has been steadily running up the highest euthanasia percentage among all animal rescue groups. In one year they put down 85% of the animals they took in from shelters instead of either housing them of finding them new homes. We're talking about healthy animals that would have lived years, but PETA decided that it's better to kill them than to keep them penned up. In general PETA is another organization that comes across as being more interested in their status and seeking celebrity endorsements then the welfare of animals.

Your Mommy Kills Animals (the title is taken from that of a "comic" that PETA hands out to children that shows pictures of a rabbit before and after its been skinned that repeatedly states "your mommy kills animals") does its best to give an objective view of the various organizations and individuals who are involved in advocating for a world in which humans treat animals with respect and dignity. While the movie makes no bones about the fact that it considers the terrorist charges brought against individuals within the animal rights movement unconstitutional and a dangerous precedent on the grounds of denial of freedom of speech, it does its level best to present as impartial a picture as possible. In the end it leaves it up to the viewer to make his or her own decision about the issue after hearing from everyone from mink farmers to Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherds, the anti-whaling group.

Unlike a number of current documentaries that are no more than propaganda for a filmmaker's pet issue, Your Mommy Kills Animals does its best to simply document the issue without prejudice.

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About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site Qantara.de. He has been writing for Blogcritics.org since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.
  • Michelle

    Ariana you just made me cry..that was so beautiful

  • This film verges on bias personified. The only thing is, it’s so cleverly hidden with a ‘we don’t take sides’ feel.

    Whether you’re religious or an atheist, whether you believe in souls or whether you believe other animals have souls or not, one thing is clear. Man has no right for doing what he does to other animals. Look for any excuse you want, economically, compassionately or whatever, make a movie about it, the fact remains.

    In over twenty four years of working with animals, I have never seen a kitten duct-tape a live human baby to a freeway. I also have never seen a cat find enjoyment from setting a human on fire. I’ve never gone hiking in the desert to find a child that dogs have left tied to a stake, without food and water, subjecting it to a painful death in the desert heat. I have never seen a chicken force two unwilling humans to fight in a ring with razor blades attached to their feet while the chickens place bets on who will be the first to die. I haven’t seen a puppy place eight children in a gunnysack and drown them in a river.

    Neither have I seen an eagle aim a shotgun at an unarmed human. I have yet to see a bear kill a human simply to place a head on the wall of their cave. And to this day, I have not seen a pigeon drive a car down the road and aim for humans who were walking around the park.

    Let me tell you what I have seen. I have seen my own cats sleep next to me so they may keep me a little warmer when I was ill or upset by something. I’ve seen my dogs play games with me just to force a smile to my face. I have seen a cat rush into a burning home not once, not twice, but six times to save her kittens, nearly losing her own life in the process. I have seen a ferret pull a frightened kitten out of a deep hole in the ground. I have seen a coyote fetch another dog so that it may get the proper medical care that it needs.

    I’ve seen a dog, who loves to jump on people, avoid jumping on me when I was injured and using a cane for stability. I’ve seen elephants cry. I’ve seen monkeys scream in empathy when one of their own were injured. I’ve seen puppies whine all night long when they were separated from their mothers. I’ve seen a dog pull a child away from a fire. I have seen a mother cat place a child’s sock to her teat when her family is torn from her prematurely.

    And I can look at the faces of those I care for in my home and know they are spiritually no different than I am, only lacking protection from those who seek justification for killing them.

  • Tracy

    About the Center for Consumer Freedom:

    Guest Choice Network, the predecessor organization to CCF, was formed in such a way so as not to appear “owned” by Philip Morris, to address the lack of interest restaurant owners had in Philip Morris’s “Accommodation Program,” and to have a broader appeal to industry than just tobacco. GCN was designed to “create an aggressive mentality by [restaurant] operators [to oppose} government smoking bans,” according to a letter by Rick Berman to Philip Morris [2073148834]

    In a 1995 letter to Philip Morris (PM), Rick Berman (of the public affairs company Berman & Company) proposed that PM form an aggressive front group called the “Guest Choice” network to motivate restaurant owners to aggressively fight smoking restrictions while appearing to be acting on their own. Berman said to PM, “…if you want to gain more ground quickly for the smokers’ rights issue, the [Guest Choice] program must create a proactive, aggressive mentality by [restaurant] operators regarding government smoking bans…” Berman described how hiding Philip Morris’ involvement would allow the group take more aggressive action:

    “Additional benefit — if externally perceived as driven by restaurant interests, there will be more flexibility and creativity allowed than if it is ‘owned’ by Philip Morris. The American Beverage Institute, which opposes overly aggressive DWI laws, enjoys this profile.”[1]

    PM took Mr. Berman’s suggestion and formed the “Guest Choice Network,” changing its name in recent years to the “Center for Consumer Freedom,” which in addition to fighting smoking bans also fights the organic food movement and lobbies against lowering the legal blood alcohol limit for drunk driving.

    For more information

  • etbmfa

    7 Things You Didn’t Know About PeTA

    1. PeTA has stated repeatedly that their goal is “total animal liberation.” This means no pets, no meat, no milk, no zoos, no circuses, no fishing, no hunting, no farming, no leather, and no animal testing for lifesaving medicines.
    2. PeTA has given tens of thousands of dollars to convicted arsonists and other violent criminals.
    3. PeTA funds the misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine an animal-rights organization that presents itself as an unbiased source for nutritional information and has links to violent animal-rights groups called SHAC and ALF.
    4. PeTA has used their contributors tax-exempt donations to fund the North American Earth Liberation front and the Animal Liberation Front, FBI-certified domestic terrorist groups responsible for fire bombs and death threats.
    5. PeTA regularly targets kids as early as elementary school with anti-meat and anti-milk propaganda. They are totally opposed to traditional farming methods.
    6. PeTA spends less than one percent of its $13 million budget actually caring for animals. PeTA kills animals.
    7. PeTA has repeatedly attacked groups like the March of Dimes, the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the American Cancer Society, for conducting animal testing to find cures for birth defects and life-threatening diseases.

  • Tracy

    Animal rights is about realizing that all living beings deserve compassion. Also, there are MANY animal-rights supporters who care for dogs and cats. I, myself, foster dogs for a rescue organization.

    I also help reduce animal suffering by being vegan (ie. not financially supporting companies that slaughter animals).

  • Maddy

    CCF sued the filmmaker specifically because he did *not* do a hatchet job on PETA/HSUS. If this film really had been a CCF-sponsored hit job, CCF would never have allowed their involvement to become public.

  • I’ve seen this film, and though it is very interesting look into the world of animal rights, it is actually very very biased film. the notorious lobby group CCF – Center for consumer freedom paid over 300 000$ to produce this film and make large groups (PETA and HSUS (not USHS)) look bad.

    Not only does this betray the publics trust but loses journalistic credability

    for more info check out

    for the animals,

    Montreal, Canada