Yesterday I wrote this blog alluding to the fact that PETA was attempting to bully me into silence by attempting to put into jeopardy something sacred to us — the loss of which would do serious harm to my family, to my children. At the time I wrote the blog I was not able to give more details, shortly after I published it I was given the green light to do so. Had I known that was going to happen I would have just written yesterday the blog I will write today. But, not knowing when I would be given the green light, and after talking to my husband about the parameters of what was appropriate to put on my blog in the meantime, I went ahead. Because I believe it is important people know as much as possible about how PETA attempts to bully people who speak the truth about their killing. Today I can write about what happened.
On June 15 an attorney representing PETA wrote a letter to my husband’s boss chock full of false allegations against Eric and against me. They accused him/us of “false and malicious attacks” against PETA, ethics violations, misuse of government property, and attempting to “interfere with PETA’s business,” a violation of Virginia law. As if killing animals is a business. They accused us of using Eric’s position in order to further my “scheme” against PETA. Bottom line, they attempted to jeopardize Eric’s job, our livelihood, in order to get us to shut up about their killing. They put at risk my entire family.
While Eric and I both knew none of these allegations were true it’s still extremely worrisome to have a letter like this sent to one’s boss. This is his job, his career, the way we support our family. Additionally, the oath Eric took when he joined the FS is something he did with respect for our country and for the people he serves — serving with integrity is at the core of that.
Eric contacted an attorney, specifically about the allegations of ethics violations, sending him both the letter and a link to my blog. The attorney looked everything over and responded that there was nothing improper about our actions, no ethics violations had occurred. Which we knew but it was calming to hear that from an attorney.
As for the allegations of “misuse of government property” it was also determined that he did nothing wrong. Eric is allowed, by his employer, our government, on his breaks, to use his computer for limited personal use of social media. In other words, he can make a comment as a private citizen on a FB post about PETA while he’s taking a coffee break.
More attorneys were contacted and they agreed with the initial assessments. They also stated that Eric and I were acting within our rights, as private citizens. We have first amendment rights and those are not signed away when you work for the government or when you are married to someone who does. Additionally, they stated no libel or slander had occurred as long as everything we’ve stated is true. Which it is. Honestly, would PETA be trying this hard to shut us up if we were lying? Their not scared of lies, they’re scared of the truth.
There are other things they stated about me that were laughable, really, and not even worth my time. But the last thing I want to address is PETA’s assertion that I am using my position as a Foreign Service spouse to further my efforts to expose them. In order to back up this assertion they cited a few things. First, that in my letters to members of the Virginia General Assembly, I stated that Eric is a diplomat currently serving at our embassy in Honduras. Yes, I did write that. Let’s put it into context, this is what I wrote:
My husband is a diplomat, currently with the American Embassy in Honduras, and over the course of our various postings I have volunteered for shelters and rescue groups in developing nations. Their efforts on behalf of animals put Ingrid Newkirk’s to shame. I have also worked in a small shelter in Montana, and volunteered at another shelter in Virginia. Neither in America not abroad have I ever seen a shelter with kill numbers as high as PETA’s. It’s unheard of.
Context is important. You can read the entire letter here.
Second, they cited the “About Me” section of my blog where I state that I am a Foreign Service spouse. Um, yeah. When I started this blog I did it, in part, with the intent of documenting our lives as nomads, specifically as a Foreign Service family. I am a Foreign Service blogger, I belong to a community of Foreign Service bloggers. Our blogs are resources for members of our community, for people considering joining the FS, and for expats. Need to know what the schools are like in Ghana or Ireland? We can hook you up. Looking for lists of the pros and cons of various posts? We’ve got your back. People search for our blogs because they need information — I’ve been contacted countless time by folks who have been looking for info on various posts, see that we’ve been to one or two of them, and have questions. And by people new to the FS, or considering the FS, with questions about raising kids in the FS, moving animals internationally, or just generally “what’s it like?” Finally, as a Foreign Service blogger, I am obligated to state on my blog that the opinions and views I express are mine alone and do not belong to my FS husband or his employer. Which leads to the other purpose of my blog — to express my personal opinions and beliefs. Mine and mine alone. ‘Nuff said.
They also seem to have a problem with my statement that “we serve,” they even added an emphasis to the word “we.” One of the things we try hard to instill in our children is the responsibility they have as Americans living overseas and, specifically, as Americans officially representing our country. They, we, have a responsibility to conduct ourselves in a way that shows respect to our host country and to represent our nation in the best way we can. We signed up for this together, as a family unit. We all make the sacrifices this life entails, we all reap the benefits. So, yes, we serve. We are a Foreign Service family. And I added that emphasis.
So that’s what happened. PETA tried to put our livelihood at risk in order to get us to stop telling the truth about the thousands of animals they have killed, and about the countless animals who are at risk in the present and future. Eric’s response to PETA is at the end of this blog. Here’s my response to PETA: If you ever drag my family into this again, if you ever again attempt to put at risk my children, I will dig in deeper, I will push back harder, I will stand up taller. I am not scared of you.
Wordy and misleading letters sent to my boss from high-priced lawyers do nothing to frighten me. Their allegations and inferences are false. I support Heather’s efforts under my first amendment rights as a private citizen, a loving husband, and as a first-hand witness to the “illegal conduct” the lawyers reference in their letter. On more than one occasion, I was with Heather, on PeTA property, assisting her while she administered lethal doses of euthanasia medications to perfectly healthy litters of kittens and puppies. As she has eloquently written in her long-running blog about our family, her work at PeTA enforcing its kill-first policies was emotionally taxing, and I was trying to provide her with moral support. As her husband, I knew already that, at that time, PeTA had no shelter of any kind and that CAP field workers were told to make no efforts to ever find new homes for animals they took in, despite the promises they made to Hampton Roads pet owners to get them to surrender animals to them. Based on the animal dumping charges from 2004 and the Maya case in 2014, it is easy to “infer” – as high priced lawyers do – that these PeTA policies continue to this day. I welcome their threat of litigation, and only hope that PeTA and its lawyers make similar efforts to retain all records related to CAP, as the discovery process will be quite illuminating.