We don’t have to agree about whether animal research is ethical or scientifically valuable to agree that some tactics for pursuing your view are harmful to civil society.
Bruins for Animals, the student organization at UCLA that was instrumental in organizing the recent dialogue about the science and ethics of animal based research, understands this, and they are not afraid to call out the people “on their side” who opt for threats and intimidation:
Joint Statement by Bruins for Animals and Pro-Test for Science
In an effort to establish a dialogue between those holding different opinions on the role of animals in research, Bruins for Animals and Pro-Test for Science held what, in our judgement and many of our colleagues, was an extremely positive and informative discussion on the science and ethics of biomedical research using animals.
In the weeks leading to the event, a handful of animal rights activists, with the only goal of preventing this dialogue from happening, harassed UCLA investigators at their homes and ran a campaign of intimidation through websites. Organizers and panelists on both sides of the event forcefully condemned these attempts at derailing our meeting. We prevailed. Dialogue prevailed.
Unfortunately, this outcome has not been universally received. Some appear determined to continue with their attempts at interfering with this fresh direction the debate is taking. In a move that defies logic, these activists are now suggesting children are legitimate targets of their protests.
Nobody should tolerate these renewed attempts at silencing our voices. Scientists and animal rights activists who are committed to an open dialogue that will allow the public to become better educated on these important issues should now stand up together, publicly condemn such actions and defend the right of everyone to express freely their opinions.
Anyone willing to participate in an honest, rational and open dialogue is welcome at the table.
Jill Ryther, Kristy Anderson, David Jentsch and Dario Ringach
The statement is currently posted at the Pro-Test for Science site and at Speaking of Research, and will also go up soon on the Bruins for Animals site. (They are students and it’s a school day; they will get to it!)
Major props to Bruins for Animals in setting an example of how to stand up forcefully for what they believe without trying to silence people who hold differing views.