When I was sixteen, I was rebelling against whatever society had got by getting stoned, generally screwing up, and eventually getting thrown out of high school six months before I graduated. Laurie Pycroft on the other hand, decided enough was enough with the Animal Liberation Front’s terrorism activities, and began blogging about it, leading to the foundation of, wait for it, a pro-science movement defending the use of animal experimentation.
Seed Magazine has a short item about Laurie that got me interested, so a short Google later, I discovered that not only did he set off a demonstration in Oxford, but an organisation has been established, called Pro-Test. In true form, the ALF supporters started sending him death threats. Imagine that! Death threats to a 16 year old unemployed kid! Because he availed himself of his democratic right to protest their activities and defend good science. He needed police protection after his name and address was given to the ALF.
Yes, it is good science. Using animals allows us to discover things that serve the interests of human medicine, not to mention just learning about biology. I worked for ten years in a medical research institute, and I know first hand that the animals are not made to suffer. Forget all that emotive crap about electrodes in their heads and so on – there are strict rules about how experimental animals can be treated, and they are not allowed to suffer, at least in anything I ever heard of.
Anti-vivisectionists, as they used to be called before the current round of insanity, have a long history in the UK; Arthur Conan Doyle was one supporter. They opposed animal cruelty in scientific experimentation, quite rightly, in the 19th century, but they also seem to mistake emotional reactions for facts. And their response to it is not to lobby or protest any more. Now they want to “blow these fucking monsters off the face of the planet“. They are as bad, or worse, than anti-abortionists in the US.
I have had animal libbers tell me that we can use computer models to work out what will happen instead of using animals. Crap. We can’t even model a single cell in detail. We make make all the models we like, but we still have to test them.
The ethics underlying animal liberationism seems to be based on an extreme form of act utilitarianism – pain is to be minimised at all costs. Human pain is therefore less worthy than animal pain, and we should all be Vegans. No matter that Nature itself is cruel and pain-inflicting, or that moral valuation applies first and foremost to humans as a human act. So long as a little finch or mouse is saved from death, you apparently can try to kill a kid. It’s very like the anti-abortionists, who place the life of a developed actual human being, whether the mother or the doctors, beneath that of a 128 cell blastula, which has, at best, a limited chance of development.
If you want a war on terrorism, one that really does threaten democracy, try fighting those who think their deeply-held beliefs permit them to use violence against other citizens. That is terrorism. Kudos to Laurie.