I’ve made no secret of my disdain for self-proclaimed “animal rights” activists, the ones who are more than willing to terrorize scientists doing research to understand disease better and thereby develop better treatments and even cures. None of this means that I am some sort of “animal abuser” (to steal the animal rights jargon) or that I’m cruel and advocate “torturing” animals. There is a difference between animal rights and animal welfare; animal rights activists in essence equate a mouse with a rat with a dog with a pig with a human being. In any case, I’ve reported how animal rights activists have tried to intimidate scientists through terrorism and intimidate their children, using dubious scientific and moral arguments to justify their actions. Indeed, one of the movement’s high priests, disgraced trauma surgeon Dr. Jerry Vlasak even argues that murder is an acceptable in his cause. Meanwhile, they pull stunts that are impossible to parody, so ridiculous are they to begin with. Even death doesn’t sway some of them from their beliefs, and some of them also appear to fetishize violence.
One of most odiously despicable of the animal rights terrorists (or terrorist wannabes, given that many of them, like Vlasak, assiduously avoid being associated with anything blatantly illegal but instead prefer to use inflammatory rhetoric to inspire college-aged kids who are long on idealism but short on wits to do their dirty work for them) is Camille Marino, who runs the equally odiously despicable Negotiation Is Over website. We’ve run into her before as a supporter of targeting researchers’ children, having said:
If daddy makes a living bathing in blood, you have to expect some of it to drip off onto junior.
Well, she’s at it again.
At Florida Atlantic University, there is a student named Alena Rodriguez. She is a junior majoring in biology who wrote:
Hello! My name is Alena Rodriguez, and I’m a junior at FAU. I’m working toward a BS degree in biology with a minor in psychology. I developed a passion for life sciences early in high school and have been studying for a career in biology ever since. My goal is to become a research biologist.
During my time at FAU, I have taken advanced science courses, excelled in my academic labs, tutored my peers, and held an executive position for the Chemistry Club of FAU. There was only one thing missing; I had yet to be in a real lab. Luckily, I heard about the URM-NSF program, which is now providing me with the opportunity to do just that! I look forward to participating in this program in hopes that it will provide me with the training and knowledge to be a successful graduate student, and, ultimately, an influential scientist.
Specifically, I am interested in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, as well as biochemistry. I hope to someday be a part of the growing research that aims to find treatments and cures for cancer and other diseases. I am also inspired by biotechnology because its discoveries improve human health.
Let me tell you, it warms the cockles of this scientist’s heart (or the multicolored blinking lights of this Plexiglass box) to read such words coming from a young, enthusiastic student studying science. This is exactly the sort of young woman we want in science: straight A, enthusiastic, and willing to speak her mind. Unfortunately, her willingness to speak her mind ran her afoul of hte animal rights movement. In response to solicitations to attend an animal rights event near her school called Bioblitz!, Alena wrote an e-mail back to someone named Ghazal Tajalli (Facebook page) that said:
Actually, I’m an undergrad researcher aiming to work at Scripps! I currently test on animals and think that it is perfectly fine. In fact, it is the one of the only ways that we, scientists, can test drugs in order to treat human diseases. I’m sure someone in your family or even a friend you know has suffered from a disease or pathology that was treated (or cured) by medicines THAT ONLY CAME INTO EXISTENCE BECAUSE OF ANIMAL TESTING.
Her willingness to speak out and tell it like it is is another reason why Alena is just the sort of student we want to recruit into science. One week ago NIO posted a gloating article Alena Rodriguez: Publically Denounces Vivisection & Abandons Career Plans With Scripps. Apparently, the animal rights activists, led by the self-same Ghazal, “reeducated” Alena:
Having received some intense education from the networks of Florida activists overnight, however, Alena now understands that, just like every other student being indoctrinated into the horrific world of institutionalized animal abuse, “I was naive…I really just did not know about all this stuff.”
In the rest of the post, NIO included a statement from Alena denouncing animal research, pleading “ignorance” of all these “horrible things” going on, and offering an apology for her previous statements. It’s all very Soviet-style in that the straying comrade has been brought into the fold and forced to publicly confess her “crimes” before being offerend a chance at absolution.
Gee, I wonder what that “intense education” consisted of. I don’t know for sure, but I can make a reasonable guess. My guess is that they flooded Alena’s e-mail with threats, and posts like this cached post entitled Alena Rodriguez: Hang your head in shame you disgusting ANIMAL ABUSER! This post is no longer posted on the NIO blog, probably because Alena recanted under pressure, but of note Ghazal published Alena’s e-mail address on the NIO website, urging her fellow animal rights loons to “e-mail her.” She also posted the link to Alena’s Facebook page. Ghazal even urged people to spam Alena’s FAU Chemistry Club.
Sadly, Ghazal’s harassment obviously worked. As P.Z. Myers mentions and NIO gloats about, Alena recanted, apologized, and begged Ghazal to leave her alone. The bully had won. She had done what she had promised to do upon joining NIO Florida, taking the position of Senior Editor of Disturbing the Abusers’ Peace, where she was described as “part of the core group working to organize a network of militant activism across the state” for NIO Florida. Clearly, Ghazal abused Alena’s peace until she gave in, which is the way animal rights activists work, just like criminal thugs. Indeed, in the early morning hours of March 23, Alena e-mailed Ghazal saying:
I’m sorry! You all are right! : ( please stop saying such horrible, untrue things about me. It’s hurtful. I’ve done nothing but fruit fly research. I’m crying because of this… I’m sorry….
I can’t help but wonder: Aren’t fruit flies animals too? Will Camille and her gang of motivated but not too bright terrorists keep harassing Alena if she continues to do Drosophila research? Think of the carnage! Thousands upon thousands of innocent fruit flies will be slaughtered! Some of them will suffer from mutations induced in their DNA or have exogenous genes inserted into their genome that alter their anatomy or function, all in the name of science trying to figure out what these genes do! The horror! To Camille and company, apparently the mass slaughter of fruit flies in the name of science is morally acceptable, but experimenting on mice is not. After all, Alena recanted her previous belief that animal research was morally acceptable, but she said nothing about stopping her Drosophila research. Truly, the thought processes of radical animal rights terrorists like Camille that lead to the conclusions that animal experiments utilizing rodents are pure evil while such experiments that slaughter insects are not are beyond the puny ethical faculties of mere scientists.
Dubious moral reasoning to justify harassment and intimidation aside, buoyed by the success of its intimidation of a college student, NIO has now gleefully decided that its members and supporters should generalize these tactics. In a spittle-flecked and disturbing post, NIO über-crank Camille Marino crows about Bringing the War to the Student Body – The Soft-Bellied Target of the Vivisection Complex:
…while many above ground strategies remain ineffective, the MDA campaigns of the animal liberation underground — liberating animals from captivity, inflicting economic damage through sabotage, and creative intimidation tactics — have yielded quantifiable gains. But even tougher means may be necessary to end the billion-dollar animal holocaust industry by bringing the war home to the vivisectors, professors, academic departments and administrators, and the entire staff of private research facilities. But only about 2% of the animal liberation/anti-vivisectionist movement is fought by underground activists. That leaves 98% of us free to use the light of day to start chipping away at the aspects of industry that remain hidden in shadows.
Every time a vivisector’s car or home — and, eventually, the abuser him/herself — blows up, flames of liberation light up the sky. And now we have a golden opportunity to begin to destroy the foundations upon which Bogus Big Pharma and the academic-industrial complex rest — the vivisection research model can be made unworkable and obsolete.
“Creative intimidation tactics”? Is there any clearer statement that intimidation through the threat of violence against researchers is the stock in trade of how these people work? But it’s even worse than that. What Marino wants to do is to target young, aspiring scientists when they are still young, because they are “far more malleable and easily manipulated.” In addition, she threatens:
Like all young adults, college students are acutely concerned with how they are perceived by their peers. They need to maintain a certain persona if they wish to continue to enjoy the acceptance of their community. This makes them infinitely more susceptible to negative and inflammatory publicity than their veteran-mutilator counterparts. When education fails, smear campaigns can be highly effective. Abusers have forfeited all rights to privacy and peace of mind and, if an abuser-to-be should fail to make the correct choice now, NIO is here to broadcast all of their personal information. Remember, young people document every facet of their personal lives online. In about 30 minutes, we were able to compile an impressive and comprehensive profile for Alena.
Despicable smear campaigns do appear to be the animal rights movement’s stock in trade, which is why I have likened the anti-vaccine movement to the animal rights movement. I like the part about “when education fails, smear campaigns can be highly effective.” Basically, to the animal rights movement “education” consists of harassment and intimidation. Those who stand up to the harassment and intimidation can next expect a smear campaign. Then, if the smear campaign doesn’t work to intimidate its enemies into silence or recanting (as Alena did), then NIO, like other animal rights terrorists, will ratchet up the threats:
Students also need to understand that making the wrong choice will result in a lifetime of grief. Aspiring scientists envision curing cancer at the Mayo Clinic. We need to impart a new vision: car bombs, 24/7 security cameras, embarrassing home demonstrations, threats, injuries, and fear. And, of course, these students need to realize that any personal risk they are willing to assume will also be visited upon their parents, children, and nearest & dearest loved ones. The time to reconsider is now.
The problem is, Marino has probably hit on a fairly effective strategy. College students are probably more susceptible to intimidation and threats than older scientists. On the other hand, college students don’t usually have children whom the animal rights movement can threaten; so they are probably less susceptible than established scientists to threats against family. Be that as it may, what Marino forgets is that people, when under threat, will sometimes say anything to get their harassers off their back. Indeed, i wouldn’t blame Alena in the least if she had done exactly that. After all, she doesn’t need this nonsense; she needs to study and continue to earn straight A’s in order to be accepted to a good graduate program. Almost any reasonable tactic to get the idiots off her back would be hard to argue with, and, if that’s what Alena did, I don’t blame her in the least. Indeed, I might have advised her to do the same thing to get rid of the loonies: Tell them what they want to hear and then do what you were going to do anyway. Indeed, I hope that’s what Alena did. I don’t want to lose her as a future biologist.
In the meantime, I can’t help but contemplate what utter Luddites Camille Marino, Ghazal Tajalli, Jerry Vlasak, and the rest of the animal rights terrorists are. They’ve now intentionally decided that the best way to achieve their goals is to target the youth of America, specifically the youth we most need, those who are interested in becoming scientists. Given how hard it is to be accepted to graduate school and how long and hard the training is to become a biologist or biomedical researcher, only to look forward to the absolutely dismal chances of achieving independent funding that exist in the current federal budgetary environment, the last thing we need now for our national competitiveness in science is a bunch of anti-science loons trying to frighten young people away from a career in the biological and biomedical sciences with visions of car bombs and 24/7 intimidation.
Fortunately, I believe that our college students are made of sterner stuff than Camille Marino apparently does. I don’t think they’re quite as “soft” an underbelly” as Marino does. When push comes to shove, I predict that fewer of them will back down than Marino thinks, providing far fewer recantations than she wants for her twisted website.