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Over the past fifteen years a powerfully charged drama has unfolded in New Yorks Broadway venues and spread to the opera houses and ballet productions of major cities across the country Its characters include angry college students aging rock stars flamboyant B-movie queens society matrons and sophisticated fashion designers You cant buy tickets for this production but you might catch a glimpse of it while driving in Bethesda on particular Saturday afternoons If youre lucky Compassion Over Killing COK an animal rights civil disobedience group will be picketing Millers Furs their enemy in the fight against fur These impassioned activists see the fur trade as nothing less than wholesale commercialized murder and will go to great lengths to get their point across Such enthusiasm may do them in as COKs often divisive rhetoric and tacit endorsement of vandalism threaten to alienate the very people it needs to reach in order to be successful The animal rights idealogy crystallized with the publication of philosophy professors exploration of the way humans use and abuse other animals Animal Liberation argued that animals have an intrinsic worth in themselves and deserve to exist on their own terms not just as means to human ends By 1985 ten years after Peter Singers watershed treatise was first published dozens of animal rights groups had sprung up and were starting to savor their first successes In 1994 Paul Shapiro then a student at Georgetown Day School didnt feel these non-profits were agitating aggressively enough for the cause He founded Compassion Over Killing to mobilize animal rights activists in the Washington metropolitan area and throw animal exploiters out of business Since then COK has expanded to over 300 members with chapters across the country including one at American University which formed in the fall of 1996 COK organizes protests as a primary activity of the group although some chapters may choose to expand into other areas if they wish COKs focus
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