When I told you about the infuriating tactics extreme animal rights activists are turning against Dario Ringach for even daring to express his view that animal research can be important, a number of you asked in the comments, “What can we do besides signing petitions and writing blog posts?”
David Jentsch offers some concrete ideas about where to start making your stand:
For those that support research or researchers, I offer a number of possibilities that will allow you to become involved in this struggle:
1) Participate however you can in supporting science and scientists. This may include forceful statements about the values of academic freedom and calls for your University administration to make categorical statements about threats to controversial research. Get ahead of the curve and condemn it on principle, not just because someone in your University is being threatened.
2) Write letters to the editor of your local papers about your position on research. Promote science education and an understanding of biomedical research through presentations about science at your children’s school.
3) Speak to your friends and family members who hold views critical of research. Open a dialogue with them. Compare notes about what you feel the ethical basis for conducting animal research is and why you think it is justifiable. Try to achieve an agreement that they should condemn those in their movement that support “direct action” (which is a barely concealed attempt at rebranding criminal behavior).
4) Write to your Congressperson and Senators and demand that they strengthen and support legislation that increases civil and criminal penalties against activists who go beyond Constitutionally-protected speech and begin resorting to criminal harassment and stalking. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism act is under judicial review. The House and Senate need to consider revisions and extensions now.
5) If anti-research activists show up on campus or in your community with their dated pictures and slogans, show up as well and present your own perspective forcefully but articulately.
6) Foster your own campus dialogues with animal rights activists, but refuse to respond to, engage with or involve persons unwilling to PUBLICLY condemn people that support or apologize for direct action campaigns.
I’ll offer one more: Be that person, in your everyday interactions, who consistently calls out the tactics of intimidation, no matter who’s using them. Make sure your family, your friends, your coworkers, your neighbors, have no doubt that you prefer a society where we deal with each other on the basis of reason, not fear.
Commenters with other suggestions about how to take a stand against over-the-line tactics, no matter where you stand on the question of research with animals, are invited to share them in the comments.