Earlier this week, I related a situation I found alarming in which a scientist and his children were targeted for harassment because he dared to express the view that research with animals plays an important role in answering scientific questions that matter to scientists and to the public. I was not alone in decrying these tactics. At least one animal rights group also condemned them.
Given that the post was pretty clearly directed at the question of tactics, I am frankly puzzled by this comment from Douglas Watts:
When I see mainstream “science” commit itself to a program which phases out vivisection by date certain, this post would have credibility. Without such a pledge and plan, you are basically saying that scientists are separate from the rest of society and should not be held to the standards the rest of society must live up to. In doing so, you are making the anti-vivisectionists point for them: scientists are unwilling and unable to clean up their own house.
If I’m understanding it, the logical structure of what Douglas Watts is claiming here is something like this:
- Targeting for harassment someone for publicly expressing a view in support of X, and targeting that person’s children at their school, is wrong unless the scientific community fails to pledge to stop doing X by a precise date.
- Claiming that people and their children ought not to be harassed and intimidated for expressing a view seeks to put them outside the standards to which the rest of society is held.
- If people are targeting you for harassment and intimidation for speaking in support of X, doing X and/or speaking in support of X must be wrong.
In short, it sounds like Douglas Watts is saying that we most certainly ought to embrace a society where people who disagree with our views post our names, addresses, and phone numbers online, put on their ski masks and bang on the windows of our houses after dark, and go to our children’s schools to hand out literature describing how evil we are to hold a view like X.
Is that what’s being claimed here?
The post to which this comment was purportedly a response asserted that:
Having differing opinions is not a crime. Nobody’s kids should be targeted for harassment because you disagree with their parents. We need to call this behavior out, no matter who does it, no matter what cause they hope to further with it.
Either Douglas Watts is claiming that harassment is always an acceptable tactic, or that it’s acceptable in pursuing some ends, but not others.
If it’s the latter, I’d be very interested in how he has arrived at the definitive list of causes in whose pursuit anything goes.