Need proof that hardcore animal rights protesters are clueless?

Or should I say, do you need more proof?

Here’s Exhibit A: Paul Bali, a 40-year-old philosophy professor at Ryerson University in Toronto has a history of participating in the usual vegan-inspired protests against raising livestock and eating meat.  Nothing noteworthy about that, because he’s got plenty of company among the demographic of younger Caucasian women who believe vegetarianism is humanity’s preferred lifestyle.

But in July, Bali went off the rails when he found out that Temple Grandin was going to speak at an industry function being held at the University of Guelph, about 35 miles west of Toronto. Already incensed that university faculty were conducting medical research using animals, Bali told the Guelph Mercury that when he heard Grandin was speaking, “he lost it.”

He said he flew into a fit of rage — which is pretty much steady-state for a lot of angry activists — bought a can of spray paint and sprayed the word “abattoir,” with an arrow pointing to the university, on a stone sign near the university campus.

Bali told the newspaper he “knew he would be charged for the crime” and claimed that he turned himself in the following day. But news accounts of the incident indicated that Bali did so only after the Guelph police distributed a photo of a suspect in the case and asked the public for help in identifying the culprit.

Bali said he did the spray painting to “start a larger conversation.”

Yeah, like one that begins with, “You have the right to remain silent . . .”

Bali tried to slough off his behavior, contending that, “A little bit of paint on stone is nothing; it comes off. But I was pointing at some actual blood,” meaning the animal labs at the university.

He was charged with a misdemeanor and is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 22. But that’s not where his protesting ended. He didn’t stop with vandalism. Instead, he was one of the leaders of a small band of sign-carrying protesters who picketed on the street outside the site of Grandin’s talk, which was sponsored by Farm and Food Care Canada.

Along with the usual meat is murder signage, Bali tried to make the case that Grandin is nothing but “a figurehead,” put forward by agri-business to put “a kinder face on a violent industry.”

That comment demonstrates not only the depth of the extremism Bali and company have embraced, but a clear disconnect with reality. Nobody on this entire planet has done more to better the lives of animals than Temple Grandin. People in the industry universally acknowledge that her insights on animal behavior and her innovative animal handling designs have revolutionized the business.

Personally, I’ve been around long enough to have witnessed plenty of since-defunct operations where the foreman’s best friend was fully charged cattle prod and kicking, beating and shoving livestock into pens and onto chutes was accepted as normal and necessary.

Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find a plant where any of the goes on — certainly not as a conscious management tactic.

So for activists like Bali to attack someone who is responsible for advancing the same agenda items they claim to support is the height of stupidity, not to mention totally counterproductive.

That’s why there’s no dialogue to be had with animal and vegan activists. They see the world through a distorted lens that considers raising livestock to be a horrendous immorality, yet have no problem with the death-dealing that occurs with every day with every species across the entire animal kingdom. Unless you’re grazing in a pasture or chowing down in a barn of feedlot, you’re either predator or prey.

One or the other. Eat or be eaten.

To activists, animals killing animals is just fine and dandy. People doing so humanely, however, that’s an abomination.

No — what’s an abomination is a college professor who believes that spray painting is a legitimate way to start a conversation, or that someone who has dedicated her life and career to bettering the lives and the treatment of millions of livestock is to be shouted at and protested against for doing exactly what animal activists are demanding: Reducing the suffering of animals.

Although they see themselves as martyrs for the cause, the reality is that people like Bali are part of the problem, not the solution.

Grandin, to her credit, tried to talk with the picketers (see photo), which was a waste of time.

Bali and the rest of his band are the ones the rest of us should be protesting.

Dan Murphy is a food-industry journalist and commentator