If there’s one creature that animal-rights activists should not try to save (and should instead attempt to quietly euthanize), it’s a lame duck.

The House of Representatives on Monday passed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, extending current federal law to specifically criminalize not only interfering with “animal enterprises” — a commercial or academic enterprise that uses or sells animals or animal products for profit, food or fiber production, agriculture, research, or testing — but also interfering with organizations that do business with “animal enterprises,” such as their lawyers or insurance companies.

As AP says:

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Violators could be sentenced up to a year in jail for economic damages of less than $10,000, and up to five years in prison if a threat produced a “reasonable fear” of bodily harm. Prison sentences of up to 10 years could result if someone is actually injured.

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And while AP goes on to say that “the bill specifically condones peaceful animal rights protests,” a look at the bill itself (see: HR 4239) reveals much muddier language. Instead it would allow “lawful economic disruption that results from lawful public, governmental, or business reaction to the disclosure of information about an animal enterprise,” which could reasonably be interpreted to mean things like distributing information.

Sounds OK; organizations can post information about animal-rights abuses on their websites. Awesome. But even passing out leaflets while on an animal enterprise’s property could be deemed “unlawful” if they don’t want you there, leaving open the possibility of being prosecuted under this law for peaceful activity.

Similar scenarios would also likely be included in this broad bill: sit-ins on company property, as these too would likely be deemed illegal due to the whole trespassing issue.

So peaceful, it seems, has nothing to do with it.

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Since a version of this crazy-ass bill has already been given the go-ahead by the Senate, the bill has been passed on to President Bush. Any veto predictions?