The Jan. 24 issue, page 16, featured two hysterical missives from PETA officals in response to my December 2004 column attacking them. One came from a PETA attorney; the other from the misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a sophisticated PETA affiliate that masquerades as a medical group in order to put a “poising” label on meat and dairy.

Despite PCRM’s denials in NRN, a doctor named Jerry Vlasak was billed as a PCRM representative at the Animal Rights 2003 convention. He was recorded there advocating murdering doctors whose life-saving research requires the use of lab rats. After his statement was publicized widely, Great Britain banned him and his wife from entering the country.

A few weeks after 9-11, PCRM president Neal Barnard co-signed a series of letters of the group’s letterhead the leader of an animal-rights terror group called Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. Targets of Barnard’s SHAC friends have been on the receiving end of baseball bat beatings, car bombs, Molotov cocktails and countless death threats. Seven SHAC leaders, including Barnard’s co-signer, will be tried in June on terrorism charges. So much for PCRM’s letter claiming that I was “wrong to suggest that PCRM ever encouraged violence.”

PETA, meanwhile, publicly acknowledged financially supporting the Earth Liberation Front. That’s the group that burns buildings and torches sports utility vehicles.

For too long restaurant and food companies attacked by animal rights wingnuts have fought back by offering compromise. This Chamberlain model inevitably is trumped by further demands from activists who are trained continually to move the goalposts. Companies that sit down to negotiate their operations manuals with those crackpots don’t appreciate that the group across the table wants to bankrupt them. Leaders of PETA and PCRM don’t want a more “humane” cheeseburger; they want tofu and lentils for everyone.