A Desperate Dodge

Our Oscar ad from a few weeks back clearly caused heartburn over at HSUS. CEO Wayne Pacelle went off on an ad hominem rant on his blog, while HSUS spent the week emailing out attacks on us. And recently, HSUS posted a written rebuttal to our recent handout titled “9 Things You Didn’t Know About HSUS,” a document that has been making the rounds among lawmakers recently.

You can tell a lot about your arguments based on how your opponents reply. In this case, HSUS has lots of rhetoric, but little substance. For instance, HSUS replies to our point that the American Institute of Philanthropy gives HSUS a “D” grade by stating that HSUS gets 4 stars from Charity Navigator. OK, but so what? That’s the kind of off-point rebuttal that a middle school debate team would steer clear from. (And when you dig deeper, that 4-star rating doesn’t look so credible.)

But one HSUS retort in particular stands out. HSUS seems especially miffed that we point out its employment of John “J.P.” Goodwin. He’s a fellow with a long arrest record and who is a former spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front, a domestic terrorist group.

In its reply, HSUS claims that “more than 15 years ago, [Goodwin] renounced this activity.” We don’t buy that one bit. In July 1997 (which, last we checked, is less than 15 years ago) Goodwin told the Desert News that his group was “ecstatic” following an arson at a Utah fur farm. Goodwin continued to be quoted in the media as affiliated with his Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade in 1998 and 1999.

HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle stated in 2007 that he had hired Goodwin “10 years ago”—or not long after Goodwin, as one Animal People put it, “gleefully announced a string of Animal Liberation Front mink releases and arsons against furriers and fur farms.”

HSUS now calls this “one youthful indiscretion.” That’s one way to wash it over. But HSUS—even more unhinged—accuses us of lying by “saying that The HSUS harbors an advocate of violence on staff.” One small problem: We’ve never said that. We point to Goodwin’s radical past, sure, but please point to a time we’ve said that HSUS harbors an advocate of violence. If anybody’s “lying” here, it’s HSUS, which ought to hire a better fact-checker.

In the meantime, perhaps its resident spinmeisters can explain away the radical pasts of some of its other employees, including Leana Stormont, Patrick Kwan, Michael Markarian, and Paul Shapiro. You can take activists out of a crazed ideological environment, but can you take the crazy ideology out of the activists?