Loos and animal rights activist Hsiung face off on Facebook Live
Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) founder Wayne Hsiung is often in the headlines for his group’s radical protests, including an April 2018 arrest at a Boulder, Colo., Whole Foods store and an array of other arrests resulting in charges. Hsiung also made headlines when he and an estimated 400 protesters illegally entered a Petaluma, Calif., poultry farm and stole a number of chickens, claiming the animals needed medical attention.
Trent Loos, a radio host and sixth generation rancher from Loup City, Neb., was also in Petaluma that day and spent time visiting with ranchers in the area about the DxE protest that ended in 40 arrests.
On his show and social media, Loos reported the biosecurity breach committed when protesters used crowbars and pushed past female employees to enter the chicken barns, as well as the trash and excrement protesters left behind. He went on to discuss the private property rights that were violated, eventually calling the protesters “sociopaths” and “criminal thugs.”
When Hsiung called Loos and asked if he would join him on a Facebook Live video, Loos agreed. The video streamed on Dec. 26.
“I thought it would be a little more confrontational,” Loos said. “There was a lot of things that obviously he wasn’t in tune with. Usually they’re in tune to try to find a way to spin it. I think I enlightened him in a lot of ways and areas, which will only make him stronger in the future, it’s not going to educate him.”
While the conversation between the two was not confrontational, many of the comments, which Loos could not see during the video, were both confrontational and contained many of the mistruths Loos said he’s heard over the years.
“It might have just been his way of signaling to his people who the next target is but that’s fine,” he said.
Reflecting on the conversation, Loos said he doesn’t think Hsiung understands the biosecurity risks of groups of activists entering barns involves and said he should have addressed this during the conversation. Hsiung has been arrested not only in this trespassing incident but has entered hog barns as well, stealing baby pigs the group claimed were sick and needed to be rescued. Those in animal agriculture, he said, understand that illegally entering secured barns is a biosecurity breach that puts animals at risk for a plethora of diseases, leaving them far more vulnerable than they were prior to the “rescue.”
“Thinking back on it now, the great irony of the whole situation is his parents came here from China and, no matter how hard off they were or what the situation was, his dad is part of vivisection, which has done phenomenal things to improve lives and rid humans of diseases that a short time ago we had to deal with — case in point, polio and measles and so many things that are now coming back because people refused to utilize the vaccines that are available — but for him to launch into this whole anti-animal, anti-human campaign on the heels of his father being a part of a sector that did so much to improve human lives thanks to the use of animals,” Loos said.
This is where the bigger story lies, Loos said, in terms of the entitled generations who he said are missing the big picture of how animals are improving lives. In his experience, many activists, he said, are young women who come from families that have not been a part of something, leaving them feeling like they need to find something to be a part of to give them purpose. Loos has attended a number of animal rights conferences over the years and said many supporters found themselves seeking purpose, thought they would like to help animals, and after a Google search, ended up supporting animal rights groups like DxE.
“The fact that he had his story so wrong should make people think about ‘what else is he telling me that’s really wrong?’” he said.
This week’s conversation is exactly the type of conversation, Loos said, that agriculturists ought to be having with those who stand against animal agriculture perhaps due to a lack of understanding about the industry.
“You don’t have to seriously think about what you stand to gain and if three people listening, who were on the fence, start thinking about things in a different way, I think it was time well spent,” he said.
Loos received a number of messages on Facebook from people he’s unfamiliar with who listened and said they appreciated the conversation and found it informative. They said they were seeing things in a different light, and for Loos, that’s a win.
Each conversation, Loos said, strengthens an individual’s beliefs and clarifies for them what they believe and why they believe it. Taking the opportunity to talk about animal agriculture with those who oppose it strengthens core values and how they are communicated, regardless of whether the other person is convinced or not.
“It is beneficial for you and the community when you take people to task when they are absolutely lying about what it is that we do,” he said. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 392-4410.