In recognition of the month when America celebrates its freedom, we are devoting the first two weeks of July to a review of the ongoing battle for consumer freedom — the threats and the promise. Today, a review of recent animal rights issues.

TAX-FUNDED TERROR: “Why should taxpayers subsidize terrorists?” That’s what columnist Mike Costello was wondering after learning that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has given $1,500 to the Earth Liberation Front, an extremist group labeled as a terrorist organization by the FBI. PETA has also given over $70,000 to animal rights extremists linked to ELF and its sister group, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), including arsonists and individuals who have set off time bombs. “Who could support such monstrous people? The aforementioned PETA does. And that means… so do you, because PETA is a tax-exempt organization.”

FLORIDA FARMING: The bizarre effort to restrict a certain form of hog farming in Florida — used by “only a handful of pork farms” even according to the activists — is pressing ahead. Anti-pork activists from a self-described “national animal protection movement” have descended on Florida from all over the United States. They are close to getting an anti-hog measure on the Florida ballot this November. Why Florida? PETA, which is working hard for the cause, is blunt about the ulterior motives. If passed, PETA’s Bruce Friedrich has declared, the Florida initiative “would help us lobby in Congress” and “could lead to similar… campaigns in other states.”

HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ANIMALS: “I don’t see a difference between a chimpanzee and my 4 1/2-year-old son.” So says Steven Wise, a law professor and proponent of a dangerous school of thought that would put animal rights on a par with human rights. Why should restaurants and food producers care? From there, it’s not far to legal protection for cattle, poultry, and pork, including the legal “right” not to be eaten.

PETA’S NEW PAL: He says activists should “not be afraid to condone arsons at places of animal torture,” and gleefully declares that if an “animal abuser” were killed in a research lab firebombing, “I would unequivocally support that, too.” And now he works for PETA. Animal rights activist Gary Yourofsky has accepted the post of PETA national lecturer — putting the lie to the group’s claims that “PETA does not condone or commit violent acts, nor do we threaten anybody with violence.”

DANGEROUS DUO: Animal rights activists joined up with anti-genetic improvement activists for a series of protests in Toronto, for the first time formally linking two anti-consumer movements that have sometimes resorted to violence to promote their political goals. Both groups say working together will lift their anti-technology cause beyond a “‘fringe’ issue” and force industry to give in to their demands.