I am also confused and have been trying to figure out this place since I started participating here a week ago. This is why I have been trying to leave ever since and have been asking other AR/AL to join me. If you have time check three of my topics (threads): "Boycott Animal Abusers and Animal Cruelty Advocates", "Do Animals Have a Voice on this Forum" and the most recent one "To: AL/AR/AW: Good by".
This is the way I see it from the impression I am getting during the short time I have been here:
This forum is open to everybody. Democratic, fair. Hard to argue that.
In reality what is actually happening here, as I see it, you have two or three posters on AL/AR side, the rest are people that hunt, people who support them and some of them also advocate many other animal abuse and cruelty practices such as skinning animals alive, cock fighting, whaling etc. They are painting AR/AL as extremists terrorists, treat to public safety and freedom of choice, people that hate humans. On the other side they are stretching concept of AW to the extreme and painting themselves as sane law-abiding citizens wise scientific animal welfare moderates. This is very well known and documented strategy used by major animal user industries: Meat, fur, animal testing entertainment hunting etc. AR/AL is treat to their multi billion dollars enterprises. They are putting up a fight. They want to discredit and stop AR/AL movement the best they can at any cost. (Remember the case of Leon Hirsch, president of the Norwalk-based U.S. Surgical company). They have the money the power and the the media on their side. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the names you see here are actually offices with a number of people sitting behind their computers thinking these strategies out.
So be careful. You are a minority here. Everything you say will be skillfully used against you. You would be portrayed as emotionally overloaded extremist. You would be slandered sometimes and your wards Will be taken out of context many times. This has been my short experience here.