Is animal rights extremism “a vision of Gandhian nonviolence“? How about a “vision of nonviolence that protects life for all people and all creatures”? That’s what the PETA-owned web site ChristianMercy.com says. The site extols the virtues of one Bruce Friedrich, PETA’s “vegan campaign coordinator.” But in his own words, Friedrich sounds a bit different. Last summer, he told an animal rights crowd that “it would be great if all the fast-food outlets, slaughterhouses, these laboratories and the banks who fund them exploded tomorrow.” As the fanatics cheered, he added: “Hallelujah to the people who are willing to do it.”

“The people who are willing to do it” are often linked to, and funded by, PETA. PETA has funneled over $800,000 to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an anti-meat, anti-dairy front group that has worked on a letter-writing campaign with Kevin Jonas of SHAC, a violent animal rights group. SHAC has issued death threats, attacked individuals at their homes with baseball bats, sprayed people in the face with chemicals, and firebombed cars parked outside homes where inside, children slept. PETA has also given funds to criminals affiliated with the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), and even directly funded the FBI-certified terrorist Earth Liberation Front (ELF) to “support their program activities.”

When this sort of activity is deemed an acceptable form of protest and making political change, excesses are inevitable. Europe is still reeling from the assassination of a Dutch politician — “the first political murder in the country since the 17th century” — apparently the work of “a militant vegan enraged by [the candidate’s] willingness to legalize mink farming,” according to The Economist. Said the alleged assassin in an interview two years ago, of factory farming and meat production: “Such things shouldn’t be happening in a civilized country… Protecting animals is civilizing people.”

While the alleged assassin is not linked to any American animal rights group, people have been tortured and killed in the name of animal rights in Europe in the past. As we wrote in a Center for Consumer Freedom opinion piece published by USA Today late last year, a McDonald’s employee was killed in an animal rights-related bombing in France in 2000, and in 1999, British journalist Graham Hall was kidnapped at gunpoint by the ALF, and the letters ”ALF,” 4 inches high, were burned into his back with a branding iron. An ALF spokesperson’s comment: ”People who make a living in this way have to expect from time to time to take the consequences of their actions.” Hall’s ”crime”: He made a video documentary critical of ALF.

Meanwhile PETA washes its hands of its unseemly allies, and directs its campaigns elsewhere. PETA’s Ingrid Newkirk has denied that her group targets children, telling CNN earlier this year that “everything we do is based at adults.” This despite PETA’s distribution of trading cards showing sickly cartoon children suffering ailments PETA claims are brought on by milk, and organization of a rally outside an elementary school after being denied permission to spread vegan propaganda inside — and PETA’s current appeal of a Utah court ruling, in which the group seeks the right to speak at public schools to respond to anything PETA considers anti-animal.

Now PETA is screening “an explicit video at elementary schools” (their words) that shows pork being processed. After the film was shown in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the city’s mayor declared: “It’s an absolute atrocity, to use children this way.” In a letter to PETA, she added: “Has your campaign failed so miserably among adults, those who actually make the food-choice purchases in homes across our city, that you must target children as young as 11 to try to make your case? Was this ethical treatment of young people, or simply a publicity stunt in poor taste?”

All of these PETA activities — the harassment of children, the support of ALF and ELF terrorists — are tax-exempt. And the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise (CDFE) is doing something about it. The organization has filed a complaint against PETA with the Internal Revenue Service. Says the CDFE: “It is a matter of public concern who received PETA grants and allocations, how much they received and why they received it. It is a legitimate question to ask whether PETA gave grants to any FBI-declared domestic terrorist group.”