Once again, researchers who use animals in their research have been the targets of violence at the hands of animal rights activists.
As reported by the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
In one incident, a faculty member’s home on Village Circle off High Street was intentionally firebombed at about 5:40 a.m. [on Saturday, August 2], according to police. The residence belongs to a well-known UCSC molecular biologist who works with mice. He was one of 13 researchers listed in threatening animal rights pamphlets found Tuesday in a downtown coffee shop.
In the second incident at about the same time, a Volvo station wagon parked in a faculty member’s driveway on Dickens Way on campus also was firebombed, police said.
The family was home at the time of the firebombing and the victims, including two young children, escaped on a fire ladder from a second-story window, according to police. One family member suffered injuries during the escape and had to be hospitalized briefly, police said. That bombing is being considered an attempted homicide because the family was home, police said.
The Volvo that burned also belonged to a UCSC researcher, but not a researcher listed in the pamphlet who also lives on Dickens Way, according to Santa Cruz police Capt. Steve Clark.
Clark declined to say if the researcher who owns the burned car works with animals or if the wrong car was bombed. …
Fliers identifying 13 UCSC scientists, some of whom use mice, fruit flies and other nonprimate creatures in their research, were discovered at a downtown coffee shop Tuesday. The fliers say, “Animal abusers everywhere beware; we know where you live; we know where you work; we will never back down until you end your abuse.” The names, home addresses, home phone numbers and photos of researchers were published on the fliers. …
The Santa Cruz incidents occurred one day after a mass e-mailing by Stop Animal Exploitation Now! SAEN highlighting what the group called “mounting violations of the animal welfare act” at private labs in Santa Cruz and Berkeley. Police would not say whether there is a connection between the group and Saturday’s violence. Clark would only say they are looking at several animal liberation groups, including SAEN.
The group’s president, Michael Budkie, said he was in Ohio and that group researches and highlights public records regarding use of animals in research labs. But he said the group does not use violent tactics and was not involved in the Santa Cruz attacks.
Let’s see if I have this straight: The use of animals in scientific research — including mice and fruit flies — is abuse. And, the tactic chosen to end this abuse is firebombing.
Because setting fire to a house with little kids in it — in a really dry part of California during fire season — is an effective way to get your point across.
The problem is, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the “point” these thugs are making is that they get off on making incendiary devices, disrupting scientific research, and putting their fellow human being in harm’s way. There is nothing about this kind of violent act that advances anything like an argument that animals ought to be treated with more regard. As public relations for their cause, this kind of violence utterly fails (although I suppose it may help recruit more sociopaths who like to play with fire).
If you have a reasoned argument to offer on behalf of your view, you ought to stand up and make the case. Resorting to violence amounts to admitting that you have no persuasive reasons to support your view.
If you have beliefs worth standing up for, stand up for them for real, putting your name and your face out there with them. Firebombers and vandals who strike in the middle of the night and flee the scene are cowards.
Inspiring fear does not win the argument. In fact, targeting scientists and putting their families and neighbors in harms way does a lot to discredit the animal rights movement with the public. Read the comments from non-scientists in the Santa Cruz Sentinel article; if you lose the public in Santa Cruz, do you think your “argument” holds any weight at all in much more carnivorous parts of the country?
Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that groups like SAEN actually do stand against violence and are trying to make their case through peaceful activism. At this point, such groups now have a much heavier burden because of attacks on scientists.
It would be nice to see them take a stand against violence and intimidation, and for cooperation with scientists, universities, private labs, and regulatory agencies, both to make sure prevailing regulations are enforced and to find ways for each side to take the other’s concerns seriously.
Actually, it wouldn’t just be nice. At this point, taking such a stand is essential if a group like SAEN is to have any credibility at all.
Maybe some of the groups involved in firebombing and other violent attacks used to have a point worth taking seriously. At this point, their violent tactics have become their message.