Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Pies-in-face attack roils anarchist-vegan world
Demian Bulwa, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO -- An ex-vegan who was hit with chili pepper-laced pies at an anarchist event in San Francisco said Tuesday that her assailants were cowards who should direct their herbivorous rage at the powerful - not at a fellow radical for writing a book denouncing animal-free diets.
Lierre Keith, a 45-year-old Arcata resident, was attacked at 2:15 p.m. Saturday at the 15th annual Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair while discussing her 2009 book, "The Vegetarian Myth." A 20-year vegan, Keith now argues that the diet is unhealthy and that agriculture is destroying the world.
As Keith stood at a lectern at the Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, three people in masks and black hooded sweatshirts ran from backstage, shouted, "Go vegan!" and threw pies in her face. While they fled, some in the audience cheered or handed out leaflets.
The attack, midway through a 30-minute talk, was captured on a video posted to YouTube and prompted blistering debates on radical Web sites.
Many people defended Keith - or at least her right not to be attacked. Others said she was dishonest and abusive to vegans and should not have been invited by the event organizer, San Francisco's Bound Together bookstore.
Police are investigating the incident but have made no arrests, a spokesman said. Keith said she did not go to a hospital and was able to speak at a second engagement later Saturday, but had sore eyes for a few days and developed an ear infection.
"The whole thing was designed for social humiliation," said Keith, speaking Tuesday from her sister's home in Kansas. "We're supposed to be against sadism and cruelty and domination, and these people were willing to do this to me."
Keith said her values are similar in most ways to those of her attackers. She believes in militant action, even property destruction, if it can lead to change. In her book, she said, she railed against factory farming and promoted the restoration of prairies and forests.
"It's insane. My entire book is about how the world is being destroyed," Keith said. She said the first pie hit her just after she uttered the sentence, "You should not eat factory-farmed meat."
Among those rejoicing in the pie attack was the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, which often prints communiques from activists taking credit for attacks on animal researchers.
The group said Keith was wrong about veganism, referred to her as an "animal holocaust denier," and scolded her for calling the "agents of state oppression" - the police.
Her assailants were "masked marvels" who "made their statement very eloquently and succinctly on behalf of the billions of animals she advocates killing," the group said.
Keith said the attack appeared to have been planned on Internet sites dedicated to veganism. She called it a case of infighting that harmed activist causes.
"If this is what is considered radical action," she said, "this movement is dead."
I've never thrown a pepper-filled pie in the face of an ape who disagreed with me. I'm surprised they didn't throw poo.