The Scientific Activist

More on Animal Rights Extremism

Earlier today, I posted a review of The Animal Research War, which details the lengths that animal rights extremists are willing to go to in order to further their cause. Coincidently, the AP yesterday published a detailed article on the rise of animal rights extremism in the US. Here’s a taste:

In the hills above the University of California’s Berkeley campus, nine protesters gathered in front of the home of a toxicology professor, their faces covered with scarves and hoods despite the warm spring weather.

One scrawled “killer” in chalk on the scientist’s doorstep, while another hurled insults through a bullhorn and announced, “Your neighbor kills animals!” Someone shattered a window.

Borrowing the kind of tactics used by anti-abortion demonstrators, animal rights activists are increasingly taking their rage straight to scientists’ front doors.

Over the past couple of years, more and more researchers who experiment on animals have been harassed and terrorized in their own homes, with weapons that include firebombs, flooding and acid.

Scientists say the vandalism and intimidation threaten not just themselves and their families but the future of medical research. Specialists in such fields as addiction, eyesight and the aging brain have been targeted.

“It used to be everyone was worried about their laboratories being broken into and their data being destroyed, their animals being taken away,” said Jeffrey Kordower, head of the Society for Neuroscience’s animal research committee. “What they’ve decided to do now is make things more personal.”

Accompanying the attacks is increasingly tough talk from activists such as Dr. Jerry Vlasak, a spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front press office. In an interview with The Associated Press, he said he is not encouraging anyone to commit murder, but “if you had to hurt somebody or intimidate them or kill them, it would be morally justifiable.”

The Washington-based Foundation for Biomedical Research said researchers were harassed or otherwise victimized more than 70 times in 2003, up from just 10 the year before. The number of attacks has held steady or risen ever since, according to the group.

The quote from the ALF spokesperson is particularly revealing. For more, check out the full article.

Hat tip to Jacquie Calnan of Americans for Medical Progress.


  1. #1 Nick Anthis
    July 9, 2008

    I have twice had to delete a comment on this thread that links to a site that publishes the personal information of animal researchers and a variety of other people involved in animal research. Such sites exist solely to intimidate these people, so under no circumstances will I allow such links on my blog. If you do wish to comment, you will have to leave those links out.

  2. #2 NM
    July 9, 2008

    “He KILLS animal! He’s a BUTCHER! … No seriously, he’s a butcher. He owns a butcher shop. Steaks and stuff.”

  3. #3 meinbc
    July 9, 2008

    Arguably it would be interesting if someone published the addresses of the various mouthpieces for ALF etc… These people seem to get a free ride by claiming that they only speak for the cause but attaching a social stigma to their associations would appear to be warranted.

    Admittedly, since the people who oppose ALF etc.. tend to be law-abiding I suppose it wouldn’t make much of a difference.

  4. #4 Paul
    July 10, 2008

    Meinbc, it’s not just that supporters of animal research are law abiding, it’s also that we don’t want to lower ourselves to their level.

    Pro-Test managed a very successful campaign against AR extremism in Oxford without resorting to any of the nasty tactics the extremists use.

  5. #5 Joe Erwin
    July 10, 2008

    I am commenting as an individual who has been the target of some bizarre misinformation from those who practice deception while claiming to advance the interests of animals.

    My name was listed on a website that claimed that I was “one of the worst animal abusers” in the greater Washington D.C. area. An address was given, which was out of date (I no longer lived there, but my daughter and grandchildren did). I was accused of performing horrendous torture of chimpanzees in a research laboratory, and “people of conscience” were urged to do “whatever their conscience allowed” at the address where my grandchildren lived. Of course, I received lots of hate mail from all over the world in response to this and other web postings.

    We are often advised not to respond to communications of that kind, for various reasons, including the likelihood that we would be just wasting our time. However, I responded to every letter associated with that episode and explained to people what had happened. They had been misled into writing abusive letters. I explained that my role in scientific research was mainly to improve the quality of life for captive primates in laboratories and zoos through environmental enrichment and design of improved environments and to conduct scientific studies in habitat countries in support of conservation of wild primate populations. I urged these people to continue to care about animals but to not be misled by people who seek to sensationalize and condemn all scientific research involving animals. I received many thoughtful and apologetic letters from people who had meant well, but now realized they had fallen prey to deliberate deception. Of course, there were a few people who just reaffirmed their commitment to see me “rot in hell.”

    Some of the hard cases were people who had signed a letter in which they claimed to be “concerned teachers.” I googled some of the names and found that they were from a midwestern US university, and that one of them was a leader of the local “anarchist club” as well as head of the campus chapter of PeTA. I found out where she worked on campus and sent copies of the correspondence to her supervisor and the Provost of the university. I received a very nice letter in return from the Provost, and a brief and hateful response from the individual concerned.

    [You might wish to also check my response #49 to your previous post, “Tales from the Front….”]

    Wishing you well,


  6. #6 Ibod Catooga
    July 20, 2008

    These animal extremist people should be used in experimental testing.

  7. #7 Joe Erwin
    July 21, 2008

    Of course, comment #6 is just silly and does not reflect my sentiments nor those of others who advocate for the careful and considerate involvement of humans and nonhuman animals in biomedical and behavioral research.

    I have voluntarily served as a human subject in a number of studies, including vaccine trials, and I intend to donate my brain and other tissues to medical science when I die. I do not wish to coerce anyone into such involvement, but the facts indicate that there is little risk and much to be learned. Of course, I would welcome anyone to join in as a research volunteer.

    I would hope that those who advocate for the rights of nonhuman animals would not continue to falsely claim that “humans are no longer used in medical experiments.” Of course they are, just within very stringent rules. And I agree that the rules for nonhuman primates and other animals should also be very protective. Among other things, animals should be protected from regulations that harm them by ensuring ignorance of their biology and health.

  8. #8 J. R.
    August 5, 2008

    Speaking as someone who recently went thru mitral valve surgery, and was fitted with a valve replacement which originated from a pig, I am deeply grateful for medical advances
    stemming from animal research. I would not be alive without them. However, I do believe that research animals must be treated as humanely as possible.

  9. #9 Ibod Catooga
    August 13, 2008

    I eat animals because they would eat me.

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