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Pairi Daiza Brugelette's mayor bans protest against zoo expansion at Pairi Daiza

Discussion in 'Belgium' started by KevinB, 28 Mar 2019.

  1. KevinB

    KevinB Well-Known Member

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    The major of Brugelette, the town where Pairi Daiza is located, has decided to ban proposed protest actions by a conglomerate of animal rights groups near Pairi Daiza on the 6th of April, when the park reopens for the 2019 season, against Pairi Daiza's plans to build a polar bear exhibit.

    Apparently plans have been circulating for a counter-protest, and insults have been exchanged between the groups on social media, so the major fears the situation might get out control and has banned the protests for reasons of public order and safety.

    While I think the decision by the major is certainly defensible, I'm not entirely sure whether we should really welcome such decisions and whether this should have more often. This will probably only strengthen the opposition to zoos, which is already very strong and growing rapidly.

    Pairi Daiza wil verblijf voor drie ijsberen bouwen, protest tegen plannen verboden

    Pairi Daiza: le bourgmestre de Brugelette interdit une manifestation contre l'arrivée des ours polaires
     
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  2. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    Wow! There are still politicians making reasonable decisions instead of profiling theirselves. Although I can understand (and even share) the apprehensions of @KevinB in general, I have to say here: Thank you, Mister major!
     
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  3. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Moderator Staff Member

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    Not exactly a great day for democracy though, is it?
     
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  4. Brum

    Brum Well-Known Member

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    Surely it's a matter of context though? If there are genuine concerns over violence or public safety issues then (in my opinion) any event should be cancelled or at least reorganised at a later date or at a different location.
     
  5. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Moderator Staff Member

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    The trouble with this is that if I don't like someone's planned protest I can just stir up some trouble around it and effectively prevent it from happening. Especially in this case where, at least from Kevin's information, no specific threats have been made I think police and local authorities have a responsibility to bring in more law enforcement to ensure that the protest goes ahead without the violence they are concerned about. If there was a specific, credible threat to cause loss of life I would argue differently.
     
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  6. Brum

    Brum Well-Known Member

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    Ah, I understand your point more clearly now. I did assume that social media posts would be at play to get the AR activists more aggressive but if it is a knee jerk reaction then I'll do a 180. If there were specific concerns then I stand by cancelling any such event.
     
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  7. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    Indeed, I was going to assume that not the protest itself but the savety/security concerns brought the mayor to its deciscion (too). However: I know many cases politicians/authorities allowed demonstrations although they know that there will come violence along and uninvolved people have to suffer (1-may-demonstration in Zurich is such an example). Those authorities/politicians are afraid of the reaction (= not to be elected again), because their decision was unpopular. So therefore my (probably prematurely) applause for the mayor of Brugelette.
    The problem with democracy is: There are (to many) people who abuse it (from both sides)
     
  8. Kakapo

    Kakapo Well-Known Member

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    HOOOOORRAY!!!!! Finally, a major with brain regarding zoo decisions! This is a kinda of endangered species, sadly :( Congrats for your good work Mr. Major, and for the rest of majors of the world, please take example! :) :) :)

    This is the second best new I've read in Zoochat in this year, after the demolishing of a dam in China for protect giant salamanders :)
     
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  9. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Kakapo.

    Besides, keyboard specialists on democracy forgot that by law mayor is responsible for safety of an approved demonstration. Brugelette is a small village without much police force. Most of organizing organizations have no experience in policing big demonstrations and claim to be very poor, so cannot pay for eventual damage. If the demonstration would break into violence, the major (and his town) would be responsible for injuries and damage. Possibly accused by the same keyboard warriors.
     
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  10. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Moderator Staff Member

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    And what will you say when the mayor (or other elected official) of Barcalona bans pro-zoo activists from demonstrating against the planned changes there? Will you also applaud the decision in the name of public safety?

    I live in a country where public protest is broadly impossible, where the expression of beliefs that go against the party line is detrimental to one's continued participation in society, and where the ability to effect change to that party line is incredibly limited.

    Frankly it is both disheartening and not a little farcical to see zoofans throw away the principle of freedom of speech in such a shortsighted way.
     
  11. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    I only regret that I have but one upvote to give for my co-moderator.
     
  12. KevinB

    KevinB Well-Known Member

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    I continue to have conflicted feelings on this, but the point made by FunkyGibbon is very strong.

    On the one side I still don't want to totally condemn the major and I still think his decision was in fact defensible if there were serious reasons to believe that public or safety might be endangered by fights or damage occuring, or if for example activists were to intend to block roads. I also agree with the point made by Jurek that for a small town it might be difficult to control things if they were to get out of hand, and I believe that is a legitimate concern, though potentially manageable.

    Belgian law allows a major to impose restrictions on organizers of protests or even to ban protests entirely only for reasons of public order and safety, and regardless of who is asking for a permission to protest - unless the group protesting is, say a proven criminal organization of one that clearly intends to threaten safety. So the major is basically not allowed to make a distinction between pro-zoo and animal rights groups, unless say the Animal Liberation Front were to be openly involved. The law is actually rightfully quite restrictive to ensure freedom of speech and the legal right to protest. There have to be serious reasons for a ban or restrictions.

    We do not however know the details about exactly what was said on social media that the decision was apparently based on. I mean, it would make some difference if it was "You're a bunch of idiots" versus "You're idiots and we're going to punch you in the face", wouldn't it?. For all we know the talk on "social" media was just more of the same vile crap that has become pretty much the norm on the cesspool of civilization that the antisocial media have lamentably become. It might not be easy always to make a distinction these days between simple insults and threats, but I do hope they gave careful consideration to the content of what was said and didn't simply panic and overestimate the chance of riots ensuing. Without knowing all the details we cannot really fully judge the reasoning behind the major's decision. I'm still giving him the benefit of the doubt though.

    As much as I passionately despise animal rights activists and their lunatic views, they still in a democratic society have a right to express and promote these views as long as they don't engage in violence, property damage or other criminal tactics. Admittedly one could questuon whether these animal rights group are actually democratic, and obviously some of them actually do use illegal methods, and I believe stronger action is needed against those factions, but to my understanding the activists intended only a peaceful, non-obstructive protest against the polar bear exhibit at Pairi Daiza, which would be legal and legally protected. We have to concede that many animal rights activists are merely irritating rather than violent and that these people are probably not a high-risk group for riots like, say, the yellow vests movements.

    Also, keep in mind that this kind of thing happening will only strengthen the animal rights lunatics in their views and in their absolutist belief of being right. I did read an article that mentioned a response by the leader of one of the groups involved and he stated that he felt the decision was anti-democratic and they were being silenced. I have also seen some comments by animal rights people accusing Pairi Daiza of lobbying or even paying the major to ban the protests (which would be highly questionable or even plain illegal). So presumably these activists are now only more angry at Pairi Daiza. So banning protests might hurt Pairi Daiza and other zoos even more in the long run.

    However much I really don't want anti-zoo protests anywhere, I believe that if they happen in the future - and they likely will, the animal groups have the legal right to again apply for a permit to protest - what should be done is to impose tight restrictions on the protests and for the appropriate services to be watchful in order to avoid these protests from getting out of hand. If these protests happen in an orderly and legal way, we unfortunately will have to tolerate them lest we want to live in a totalitarian society - and I certainly do not. No, I do not think we should welcome such decisions unless there are very good and totally clear reasons to do so. I don't think zoos will be helped by banning protests. And if we wish to combat the animal rights ideology, I do not believe this is the right way to do so either.

    Lastly, I am sorry to have perhaps derailed the topic with this discussion. I did however believe the news to be relevant to this forum.
     
    Last edited: 31 Mar 2019
  13. Kakapo

    Kakapo Well-Known Member

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    Of course what I will say in this case is: mayor, go inside the lion enclosure, naked and covered in barbecue sauce :p
    In fact, I would also say the same for all current politics of Barcelona, regardless of their zoo posture!
    But I don't want to talk about politic here (a thing that is logically a taboo in most forums and usually not allowed), despite your very strong and debatable (to say it in a polite way) political opinions here. Even I don't want to talk about Barcelona zoo in the Pairi Daiza thread. So let's continue with the "Best zoo of Europe" animal arrivals, births, deaths, transactions, enclosure innovations and place expansions!
     
  14. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Moderator Staff Member

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    To put it politely, as you say, it is hard to take seriously a position that places being pro-zoo above having a coherent political philosophy.

    (This is a messy point because I am well aware that there are people in non-democratic countries who both support their system of governance and zoos. There are also lots of people in democratic countries who are pro-zoo and who don't really engage in politics or political thought. What I am objecting to here is not caring more about zoos, it is the specific willingness to disregard free speech laws in the name of a pro-zoo position)

    Posting in support of a mayor who bans a protest is inherently political speech. There is no way around that.

    I am quite unsure about what you mean in the latter half of this sentence. Do you think it is strongly debatable to be in favour of free speech? Or have you misunderstood the middle section of my previous post to be in support of authoritarian policies? (It is not)
     
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  15. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    That part of his post threw me too :p
     
  16. KevinB

    KevinB Well-Known Member

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    The protest against Pairi Daiza's polar bear exhibit plans is going to take place anyway, on Sunday June 16th.

    Apparently the animal rights groups have negotiated with the major and they have been given the okay for a protest on strict conditions - including that they have to stay a couple hundred feet away from the entrance, cannot hinder traffic in any way and cannot be present with more than 250 people.

    Manifestatie tegen de komst van ijsberen naar Pairi Daiza

    As much as I dislike these animal rights activists and their views, I think letting them express their views under strict conditions to ensure order and safety is still the best democratic solution in this case.

    It is not all that likely they will sway many people planning to visit to not do so, or to have Pairi Daiza's plans somehow cancelled or not given permission.
     
    Last edited: 28 Apr 2019
  17. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Minor correction - Sunday 16th June :p
     
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