I found troubling Rue McClanahan’s recent use of the words “compassionate” and “nonviolent” to describe People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (“PETA is a compassionate group,” “Point of View,” May 8). PETA’s officers have projected a warm and fuzzy public image for years, largely assisted by highly visible celebrities, while quietly sending tax-exempt donations to domestic terrorists.

PETA’s own tax return shows that a portion of its $ 13.8 million in 2001 revenues was funneled to the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), a group responsible for more than $ 43 million in property damage since its U.S. crime spree began. The FBI classifies ELF as a terrorist group. “Nonviolent” hardly seems an accurate description. Money also has flowed from PETA’s tax-exempt coffers the last two years to animal-rights extremists who operate within the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), ELF’s companion group and also FBI-certified terrorists. This kind of support isn’t new for PETA.

In 1995 the group donated more than $ 70,000 to an ALF member who was convicted of the arson of a Michigan State University research lab. In 1988, PETA sent $ 7,500 to another criminal convicted of the attempted murder of an animal-research executive. Compassionate? I don’t think so.

PETA’s organizational sympathies were further exposed when Bruce Friedrich, one of its senior executives, spoke to the 2001 Animal Rights Conference. “It would be great,” Friedrich told the assembled animal-rights extremists, “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.”

Rue McClanahan is a generally beloved Oklahoman and a talented entertainer. But if PETA is truly a “compassionate” and “nonviolent” group, one of us had better get a new dictionary.