White Coat Underground

Animal Rights Terrorists Target Children

I have this friend. She used to be a scientist, but changed fields, earning a Ph.D. in philosophy. She now studies and teaches the ethics of the practice of science. I’m sure most of my readers understand how important this is. Without transparent, thoughtful, and informed discussions of ethics, the practice of science and medicine would be a disaster. The past has seen many egregious practices, such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, Nazi medical experimentation, and the historical abuse of the poor and minorities by science, but ethical dilemmas and disasters are not a detail of history.  Many of the historical abuses in the name of science and medicine, for example experimentation on prisoners and the mentally ill, were normative at the time.  This doesn’t make them right, but it provides context, and reminds us that some of our current normative practices may later be judged wanting.

Ethicists don’t simply sit around a conference table discussing useless theory (although I’m sure they do from time to time).  They help develop policies and solve problems.  Ethical questions arise as a natural course of my work as a physician, and being able to consult experts not only helps me, but helps my patients.  

As an ethicist, Janet Stemwedel isn’t afraid to get her feet wet.  She recently participated in a dialog about animal research at UCLA.  One of her rewards for lending her expertise to this effort was to have her picture, name, and contact information posted on animal rights websites.  In case you’re not familiar with the level of dialog appreciated by many animal rights activists, here is some of the text from a posting with Janet’s name and picture:

We don’t think a ‘forum’ will dissuade ANY vivisector from continuing to torture animals, since they are making so much MONEY from doing so. But UCLA Bruins for Animals seems to think a “discussion” will help these poor, abused, imprisoned animals and we guess it takes every spoke in the wheel for change to occur.

 [...]

 If the nonhumans could fight back, their tormentors would have expired long ago. We have an obligation to expose the abusers. It is the LEAST we can do!

The hypocrisy of these groups is infinite. To change the way our society views animal research, you have to actually convince society that your position has merit.  You can’t (morally) force it on anyone through threats and violence. The animal rights crowd knows this, and they know that they are nowhere near convincing a significant number of people.  Since they have failed at dialog and debate, they have switched to terrorism, and targeting researches isn’t enough for them—now they are targeting children.

As the pictures indicate, neighbors came out from many of the near-by houses, took leaflets and talked to activists about how much they hate their neighbor Dario for doing “hellish primate experimentation.” One, in fact, gave an activist the name of the school one of his offspring attends! Activists plan on legally leafleting the school in order to educate fellow students what their classmate’s father does for a living.

A couple of details are worth noting here.  Terrorists and others who encourage violence and murder often dehumanize their victims.  In this plea to harass a scientist’s kids, they refer to Dr. Ringach as “a mobster for some drug cartel, (although mobsters don’t commit nearly the gruesome, hideous things to innocent beings as Dario does to primates on a regular basis.)” After re-branding a human being as a gruesome criminal who harms “primates”, the terrorists refuse to refer to his kids as “children” instead labeling them “offspring”.  Reading it, you get the distinct feeling that his children will next be referred to a “vermin”.  

And where are the “mainstream” animal rights groups on this?  Are they engaging in dialog so that their “rational” voices will win them support and drown out the violent rhetoric of the extremists?  
Of course not, because while many people may have legitimate concerns about animals used in research (not least the scientists working with them), the core of the animal rights movement is about fear.  It is about leveling the status of human and non-human animals, not by elevating non-human animals, but by de-humanizing people, making them legitimate targets for violence.
Animal rights groups are among the most dangerous domestic terrorists in the U.S., and anyone who works for “animal rights” needs to recognize this.  If your aims overlap significantly with those of terrorists, you must re-examine your position, and if you still hold it, make very clear that you are for something other than destruction and fear.
Addendum:

Comments

  1. #1 Paul
    February 24, 2010

    Thanks for the support PalMD.

    David Jentsch and Dario Ringach, the scientists who are being targeted by this latest extremist campaign, regularly write on the Speaking of Research blog at http://speakingofresearch.com/news/ and the Pro-Test for Science group they founded at UCLA also has a website http://www.pro-test-for-science.org/

    If you want to do something to show support for David and Dario Janet has some suggestions on her blog, and you can also sign the Pro-Test petition at http://www.amprogress.org/petition

  2. #2 Kate from Iowa
    February 24, 2010

    I’ve often thought fondly of how long some of these animal rights people would last if we dropped them off naked, unarmed and hungry in any wilderness where the animals they so love are living wild and could be on an “equal footing” with them. Not long, at least not in my imagination. And of how quickly they would find a city overrun by the cats and rats and foxes and raccoons that they want to have “equal rights” with humans instead of having thier various populations kept in check. That also probably wouldn’t take long.

  3. #3 Calli Arcale
    February 24, 2010

    Interesting observation about how they dehumanize their targets. It’s ironic, because they are essentially trying to make them like animals in their quest to show how bad they are. But aren’t they of the opinion that animals deserve the same rights as humans? It would be like a civil rights leader calling their opposition n***ers. (Bowlderdized because I know some naught-filters would object to the term.)

    Now, such a thing could be done as a way of reframing the argument and winning support for their cause, but they aren’t doing that. I don’t think they’re bright enough (or respectful enough of animals, frankly) to do it.

    I have developed the opinion that most animal rights protesters, particularly the most vocal ones, don’t know diddly about the animals they profess to defend.

  4. #4 history punk
    February 24, 2010

    As someone pointed over at Orac’s blog, these individuals always go for soft targets, and not just easy to access buildings. Researchers rarely use violence or own firearms which is why they are harrassed but leather wearing bikers are not.

  5. #5 Katharine
    February 25, 2010

    Calli, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them didn’t, since the vast majority of them appear to have a background in things that are not science.

    Which still doesn’t excuse their shit.

    I wonder if, if someone tried to talk to Camille Moron about bioethics, she would even remotely be able to hold up her end of the discussion. From the meaningless drivel she writes, I doubt it.

  6. #6 G
    February 25, 2010

    I’ve been wondering if the very base of *any* serious social problem has to do with dehumanizing the targets. “It’s okay to hate them or do terrible things to them, because they’re not as good as me.”

    Scientologists think it’s okay to do whatever they’d like to non-Scientologists, because they’re not real people. Fundamentalist fanatics of all religions think it’s okay to hate (and go to war with, and kill innocents of) religions other than their own. Excessively patriotic people think it’s okay to do whatever is “necessary” to defend what they think is important (warrantless searches, privacy invasions, war, etc) because the people oppressed by it are somehow less than they. The ends justify the means–the ends benefit “us” and the means only affect “them.”

  7. #7 Patsy
    February 25, 2010

    Pal MD asks “where are the mainstream animal rights groups?” That is like asking “Where are the liberal Tea Partiers?” The animal rights movement is by definition extreme. Some organizations utilize more socially acceptable means of advancing their agenda than others. Hence the often quoted description of the Humane Society of the United States as PETA in suits. Perhaps what you are seeking is input from the Animal Welfare groups, which are opposed to the extreme agenda of the Animal Rights organizations. I would refer you to the National Animal Interest Alliance for further explanation of the major differences between the two groups. Those or us involved in agriculture or just wanting to live with and enjoy our pets have been deeply involved in fighting for our rights to continue those activities. Our opponents have deep pockets and are heavily involved in lobbying state legislatures around the country to promote their agenda. They may denounce the behaviors of the “fringe” members of the movement, but their goals are the same.

  8. #8 DrugMonkey
    February 25, 2010

    Exactly Patsy. AR is already an extreme viewpoint. Pal, don’t fall for the lie of the truncated distribution.

  9. #9 PalMD
    February 25, 2010

    Agreed. Thanks for the clarification. More accurate perhaps would be, “non-violent ARA groups”

  10. #10 Bob
    February 26, 2010

    I’m sorry, but how are saying angry things about researchers and leafleting a school “terrorism”?

    Do you mean to suggest that using human emotion as a way to coerce people to consider animal welfare (a questionable method, to be sure) is the same kind of thing as committing mass murder to scare governments to change policies?

    I think you’re being a bit hyperbolic… unless I just misunderstand.

  11. #11 MonkeyPox
    February 26, 2010

    I don’t think you misunderstood the guy…i think you’re being intentionally obtuse. Do you really think that intimidating children is somehow legitimate? You’re right though…it is using “human emotion to coerce”, as is blowing up someone’s car.

    Fucking idiot.

  12. #12 bugjah
    February 26, 2010

    Why stop at lumping ALL animal rights organizations under a single “terrorist” banner because of a single website? Why not just say it: all these animal rights folks are just like Hitler! Then we can just stop this pathetic excuse for a conversation right there and go off and have a beer.

    Stay tuned tomorrow for: “All car drivers are terrorists cuz I just saw one nearly hit a pedestrian!!!”

  13. #13 PalMD
    February 26, 2010

    If AAA and most of the other driver’s organizations were all about intentionally running down children to highlight their agenda, then yes, they would suck as bad as the ARA folks.

  14. #14 bugjah
    February 27, 2010

    most…? all about…?

    Science is about evidence not assertion, right Doc?

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