TCS Daily

Animal Rights, Human Wrongs

By Iain Murray - April 20, 2006 12:00 AM

Animal rights extremism -- which the FBI has labeled the biggest domestic terrorism threat -- has encountered a number of serious reverses recently. These reverses are a great victory for science, free inquiry and public health. In particular, Americans could learn from a popular movement in the UK that is standing up to the threats and intimidation of the animal "liberation" movement and asserting the moral arguments for animal testing.

The poster child for animal liberation extremism has been Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), a British-based firm that conducts experiments on animals largely in the field of toxicology protection. In April 1997 the firm was found to have breached animal protection laws in the UK and had its license revoked for three months. However, after that punishment was imposed a group called Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) was started with the express aim of closing down HLS within three years. The organization claims to be committed to non-violent direct action, targeting not just HLS but anyone connected or doing business with it, whether they be a director of the firm or a cleaner doing contract work for it.

In February 2001, Brian Cass, the managing director of HLS, later honored by Queen Elizabeth II for services to medical research, was attacked by three men armed with pickaxe handles. Its marketing director, Andrew Gay, was attacked with a chemical spray that temporarily blinded him. After SHAC started using public records to threaten HLS shareholders, the company relocated its financial center to the state of Maryland.

SHAC supporters in the US have also been accused of harassment, intimidation, arson, trespass and vandalism. Eventually, the evidence became too hard to ignore and the US branch of the group and six of its members were indicted for inciting violence and terror, and for stalking. On March 2 they were found guilty, some on several counts. Some of the six face up to ten years in federal prison as a result. While denying any intent to injure, one of the defendants said in the trial that it was fine to throw rocks through someone's window as long as they were not home. SHAC has been condemned by people and groups of all political persuasions. One of the most powerful summaries and indictments of SHAC's method came from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which compared SHAC to anti-abortion extremists.

Despite this, SHAC had almost succeeded in its efforts to close HLS down. Animal rights extremists have moved on to target other organizations using equally despicable methods. For example, last year a British farm that bred guinea pigs for use in animal experiments pulled out of the business after the culmination of a long campaign against them when activists desecrated the grave of the owner's grandmother and "kidnapped" her body. The activists were tracked down and recently entered a plea of guilty to blackmail in relation to the desecration. The whereabouts of the remains, however, are still unknown.

Yet with such "successes" under their belts, it was inevitable that the extremists would set their targets higher. They found it in the shape of the most distinguished institution of learning in the world. Oxford University had decided to consolidate its dispersed facilities into one biomedical research center on South Parks Road alongside its other famous scientific centers. The new center would replace existing laboratories and at the same time upgrade them, thereby increasing the welfare of the animals involved. To the extremists, however, it was too good a target to miss and they resolved to make its construction impossible.

Threats were issued and the first contractor, Walter Lilly, pulled out of construction. SPEAK, the group co-ordinating activities against the new facility started to host demonstrations against it. It was during one of these on January 29 this year that a 16 year-old high school drop-out named Laurie Pycroft thought that enough was enough. He spontaneously organized a tiny counter-demonstration in favor of the benefits of animal research and with it Pro Test was born.

Coincidentally, the most infamous of all the animal rights extremist movements, the Animal Liberation Front, got involved at about the same time. In a press release dated February 2, the ALF announced:

"This is just the beginning of our campaign of devastation against ANYONE linked in ANY way to Oxford University. Every individual and business that works for the University as a whole is now a major target of the ALF. The University have [sic] made a crass decision to take us on and we will never let them win!

"This ALF team is calling out to the movement to unite and fight against the University on a maximum impact scale, we must stand up, DO WHATEVER IT TAKES and blow these fucking monsters off the face of the planet. We must target professors, teachers, heads, students, investors, partners, supporters and ANYONE that dares to deal in any part of the University in any way.

"There is no time for debate and there is no time for protest, this is make or break time and from now on, ANYTHING GOES.

"We cannot fail these animals that will end up in those death chambers.

"Be warned, Oxford University, this is only the beginning of our campaign. Everyone linked to your institution is right now being tracked down and sooner or later, they will be made to face the consequences of your evil schemes."

This instantly made legitimate targets of Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and your present writer, among others. It also woke up about 18,000 highly intelligent students to the realization that they were now at risk of attack from a terrorist organization.

As a result, within a month of its founding, Pro Test was able to host a major rally in Oxford, with over 1000 people attending and addresses from Professor Tipu Aziz, Consultant Neurosurgeon and professor of neurosurgery at Oxford University, Professor John Stein, professor of Physiology at Oxford University, Dr Simon Festing, Executive Director of the Research Defense Society and Dr Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West. Dr Harris spoke with passion and eloquence, telling the crowd:

"Several years ago I volunteered to be a human trialist of a potential new AIDS vaccine, developed here in Oxford. I know that would not have been possible without the use of animal models and safety testing in animals. I said at the time that animal research was vital if we are to conquer AIDS, TB and malaria, and every time politicians talk about their concern for the developing world and those diseases they should mention the role that animal research will play.

"My message to the extremists is that you will never win. Every vile action of harassment, intimidation, or violence undermines any legitimacy your cause ever had and strengthens the resolve of those of us who support the rule of law and the role of science to resist you and to speak out against you."

The tide appears to have turned. Laurie Pycroft has become a celebrity and his cause is treated sympathetically by the British media. The grass roots nature of the Pro Test movement bears out another thing Dr. Harris said, that the British public values and respects the work of medical researchers:

"My message to the scientists, researchers and students who carry out biomedical work using animals is that you are heroes -- under paid , under-pressure and under-praised. You have always had my full public support and that of the vast majority of my constituents, of my parliamentary colleagues and of the British people. Your work is legitimate, necessary, carefully regulated and - where authorized -- the only or best way to provide insight into the causes and therapies of human diseases. You are right. You are brave. You are valued."

The American public certainly respects and values the work of medical researchers here. As the SHAC convictions have shown, animal rights extremism is alive and well in the United States as well. While organizations that want to end animal testing continue to bask in celebrity adulation, and with protests very much in the news these days, the USA could do with a Pro Test movement of its very own.

Iain Murray is a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.



Animal "Rights"
The columnist Emmett Tyrrell has labled PETA and it's ilk as a "public nuisance." It would be great if the mainstream media would pick up on this.

Hilarious really
that we go half way around the world after terrorists and ignore those here at home.

Animal Rights, Human Wrongs
I would suggest that readers of this article take a look at the National Anti-Vivisection webpage: Not all animal testing has been beneficial to humans: thalidomide, penicillin, etc. Penicillin you ask? Why yes because it was "discovered" in the 1920s and tested on rabbits and killed them. So penicillin was ignored for two decades as it was thought to be harmful to humans because of what it did to the rabbits... This is one of many examples. NAVS is not PETA or like other extremist groups. There is little balanced and civilised discourse on this topic by both sides. The medical research people scream just as loud as the animal rights extremists that without animal testing all of medical research and all the many cures could cease overnight (and so the war against cancer goes on). And let's admit that there is a lot of money in the research business: mice, dogs, cats, chimps, etc are not provided to these labs for free. And there is a lot of unecessary and redundant testing that takes place. Not in the name of "research" but of liability.

Animal Rights, Human Wrongs
Given how the science/research community is fraught with all kinds of 'bad studies', flawed premises and conclusions, incredible and dubious leaps of faith, and a complete and utter lack of regard for ethics and the value of life, I find it difficult in the extreme to give any credence or validity to the article presented here.

Until the scientific community starts to view life as being something that is precious-equally so-to those who are not human, then it will be forever deemed as being both insignificant, and a menace to life. Science and research has stoked the fires of greed and selfishness, while serving to further the destruction of the planet, its denizens, and ourselves as the 'lesser' species(in my opinion, for being stupidly arrogant enough to presume ourselves morally and intellectually superior all the while that we further destroy all and sundry).

The compassion offered up on display by the medical industry is superficial, designed to promote itself so as to profit further from its activities and products, nary a regard for the inevitable failings that result from using non-human animal models for its research-some perverse ethical protocol that presumes arrogantly that non-human life does not have a similar value to itself, as the human animal accords its own.

Animal Rights naturally includes human rights, as humans are an animal species too, but the distinction comes of also recognising that when we attach a value to life, it has a broad, all-encompassing application, that requires respect and accorded treatment to all, equally. We do not accept the enslavement of others of our species, so why would we of the non-human? We do not accept the adulteration or manipulation of our own species' genetics, so why would we deem it acceptable to do so to others, specifically to attempt to solve self-created ills of our kind, to the detriment of those we manipulate?

That, is terrorism in its most faceless and horrifying incarnation. Nothing can possibly justify that which we do to countless primates, rodents, insects and more-all under a false perspective that says we 'have the right to do so' becuase we are 'superior'. Smug and malevolent bastards we most surely are...

Testing testing testing
" Penicillin you ask? Why yes because it was "discovered" in the 1920s and tested on rabbits and killed them."

According to
Penicillin was ineffective against bacteria infected rabbits, but didn't kill them. However it does kill hamsters and guinea pigs.

Notwithstanding, another source of government mandated testing is your friendly book of MSDS, (Material Safety Data Sheets.) Pick up a copy and read a few sheets in your spare time.

There is a whole spectrum of animal testing, from practicing open heart surgery to observing chemical effects on rabbits' eyes and skin. I'll agree that some is bureaucratic and CYA, so that needs government and tort reform, (excuse me if I don't hold my breath.)

1/3 of the rats improved on the experimental medicine,
1/3 of the rats had no significant change, and
1/3 of the rats couldn't be reported on because those two got away.

This is a great example...
of the type of twisted thinking that goes on inside of the mind of a animal rights activist.

"Animal Rights naturally includes human rights"

Really? From your own words it seems that you do not have the highest opinion of humanity. In fact, like most of your ilk, you seem to have an extreme hatred for them. Not to mention the self-loathing that is evident in the last line of psychotic ramble.

We are superior to animals. Pure and simple. That does not mean that we are to inhumanely treat animals. The fact remains that animal testing is invaluable to medical technology and science and has offered up a wide variety of advances that would have otherwise been impossible to test.

Where are the governments in this?
Why are we not attacking arresting and killing these terrorists? I believe firmly that anyone involved in ELF, ALF, Earth First and a few other green/animal rights extremists groups are indeed international terrorists. They need to be dealt with accordingly.

Humans must come first and anyone who disagrees with that must be taught the error of their ways.

Animals are not equal to humans
And all life is not, and should not be held, equally precious. People like you should be staked out on the African plains so we can find out of the lions, hyenas and vultures consider your life equally precious to them. Want to bet on the outcome?

That fact that people like you are not only allowed to live, but allowed to walk the streets is all the proof I need of the moral superiority of humans. However, that same fact does make me question our intellectual superiority.

"The medical research people scream just as loud as the animal rights extremists"?
Funny, I don't see 'medical research people' beating, intimidating, fire bombing the animal rights people.

Just Wondering...
If a mosquito lands on your arm, do you let it eat or do you slap it and flick it's dead carcase to the ground?

Animal Rights
Iain Murray neglected to mention why SHAC and others are protesting some animal testing companies and their suppliers. Here is a sample of what he didn't explain: At Huntingdon Laboratories in Cambridge-shire, England, beagles were videotaped screaming as two technicians forced them to simulate intercourse with each other while one jabbed the dogs with a needle. At the Royal College of Surgeons a baby monkey was found with the word "crap" tattooed onto his forehead. One of the top animal experimenters in Britain had his license suspended by the Home Office after he left a rabbit to burn under a surgical lamp while he chatted with another experimenter.

Can this behavior can truly be called science? How can it help us find cures for disease? There are a host of cheaper, more accurate, and more sophisticated alternatives to archaic animal tests and, for the sake of animals and humans, they need to be more widely used.

Alisa Mullins
Senior Writer
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Before we stop animal testing...
... need to stop eating them. The sheer numbers of animals eaten compared to the number used for research is so much larger, the food industry is where 99.9% of the effort by the animal people should go. What is the benefit to the world gained by the nourishment of another fast food customer compared to what might be gained in knowledge from any study. BTW, thats great story about pencillian and rabbits, never heard it before. Guess they should have tried monkeys. You know I heard that this guy never went to college and made more money than all my fiends that did, boy they must feel pretty silly now!

Animal Rights/Wrongs
I would take the animal-rights crowd a little more seriously if they would assure the rest of us they will never,ever seek modern medical care that resulted from experimentation. Since virtually all modern medicine and medical techniques were tested on animals, I guess that doesn't leave the PETA crowd many options should they take sick --- maybe a visit to the local shaman would be in order. He can shake his rattle at them until they are all better.

If possible I don't let it land
I snatch it out of the air and squish it. Kind of a wet slimy little thing when you do that.

I much perfer to kill them in the larval stage by the millions, insecticide is my friend. You are surely pro abortion and really can't argue with the abortion of a few million insects.

Of course, I shoot rabbits, deer and elk; good eating. So is beef and bison. And the pelts make for great coats, gloves and shoes!!

Then there are the critters. Nothing beats a nice day of plinkin' gophers. Of course, I have to take the daughters along, they like to pull the tails off and use them for decorations. They also like to snare a few and take 'em home for pets; smarter than rats and cleaner than gerbils.

There are some problems I suppose
But you can't compare them to the suffering of people. Sorry.
One visit to a children's cancer hospital and you shouldn't care what goes on with animals.

If not, then people don't matter to you, it is all about the poor animals.

Come to Montana and we'll get permits for the bison hunt. Great meat and the winter fur makes for a fantastic coat. My brother, Robert Small Elk will show you how to properly dress out a bison and stretch the hide for tanning.

Perhaps you would perfer a little gopher plinkin' out in the prairie; naw, probably not.

Seriously though, this spring we can go to Yellowstone and I will take a picture of you with your arm around a bison. Should make for a great keepsake.

re. Animals are not equal to humans
According to whom? A human? How naively ill-informed and presumptuous on your part, and on the part of those who would cast your gullible mind in that direction. Look at your alleged analogy-the staking of a human on the plains of Africa...please think before allowing people to draw conclusions as to your abilities to do so.

And who, pray tell, 'allows' me to live? Come on-get real!

Don't be silly
Those around you allow you to live.

More to the point, Pauled's mockery shows that the PETA philosophy which you espouse has nothing to do with nature and natural selection. If man is an animal as you propose, then the only law is the natural law of survival.

re. This is a great example...
So, let us pretend for a moment that you have been to school, have in fact taken basic biology, and even learned a few fundamentals from said class(es). Would you say that humans are um, plants? Minerals? Animals perhaps? Good, now then, let us extend that thought a wee bit further, oh untwisted thinking one...would you say that humans fall under the classification of mammals, ie warm-blooded animals? And a bit further, if you have gone this far, we can maybe extend it to its natural conclusion that we are in facc of the sub-classification known as primates.

Understand this? No? Not surprising-you probably had some real difficulties in school too.

As for your other conclusions, let me just say that you are acing them all-not one of them is even remotely correct. Oh my, looks like you failed. Too bad.

re.Don't be silly
I propose nothing. We are a species of animals. Nothing more, nothing less. Basic biology. Oh, and here's another clue for you all, this is not our planet, and those other individuals you seem keen on torturing and exploiting aren't either.

All these concepts come from anthropocentric belief systems such as 'god', religion, etc.

Another tiresome activist
Like so many single issue fanatics, you fail to distinquish between a practise and specific abuse. That individual researchers may have abused animals I do not doubt. However this in no way invalidates the overall conduct of science research; it calls for standards. To adopt your shoddy logic, fire would be banned for all time because some child at some time in history burned itself.

re. Just Wondering...
Not that it matters, since you seem destined to try and make a weak point here, but I let it feed off me.

Come back to me when you are prepared to be honest
You are indeed proposing something, the banning of all research practices using animals. So tell me, do you propose banning it on all plants, on all single celled animals, on all flatworms, what? If your answer is anything less than everything, then you yourself are guilty of anthrocentrism. Not to mention the hypocrisy of attempting to deny it.

re. Where are the governments in this?
Ah yes, the moronic equation....I wondered when this discussion would descend to this level.

The government system…
which protects you as well as the rest of humanity, most of which would banish (at the very least) you for this type of equivalizing.

I also note you call yourself human - are you sure? I'm certainly not convinced.

re. Animal Rights/Wrongs
You haven't the capacity to take any intelligent dialogue seriously, as witnessed by this commentary of yours.
For one, there are certain realities at work here, as you mentioned, one being that there are laws that preclude the cessation of vivisected research for virtually all things medical, at some stage of the process.

That is not to say, however, that discoveries cannot and do not occur without animal research, since it is clear that they do. Genetics, for example, are very much species specific, and therefore rely on species specific research, invasive and not. Look at all the drugs being placed on the market(free enterprise, capitalist driven, not due to any compassionate measures, incidentally), and then at the numbers being taken off after the fact, once humans have ingested them, become ill, etc. Were it that the emphasis had been originally on the human animal, it is likely that not one of the problems with drugs would occur-and many of these toxic substances wouldn't be marketted either.

In other words, one would be free to discover/produce technologies and solutions to human woes without having to take a number of sidebars into/onto non-humans, with those being far more effective than the vivisected ones. It would also make industry far more responsible for what they unleash upon the gullible...

Than please refrain from going to the hospital…
if you contract one of the many misquito spread diseases.

re. Come back to me when you are prepared to be honest
Look at what you wrote. See the difficulty one has with people such as yourself?
I propose banning experimentation on animals. You say/echo what I say, then ask me if that means 'all single celled *animals*', on all flatworms...even going so far as to include the word *animals*.
What is wrong with this picture?
Oh, and choosing not to descend to that which you obviously want me to....since when have plants gone on to be part of the grouping known as *animals*?

Please try to think first, write second. Oh, and check the definition of 'hypocrisy'.
Then, come back and we can try to discuss this further.

re. Than please refrain from going to the hospital…
If ever I do go to the hospital I will refrain from entering...

re. Another tiresome activist
No, it calls for ethics.
You clearly know absolutely nothing of this topic, nor of those who see it for what it is, thinking(wrongly, as with every other post of yours)that 'we' are single issue *fanatics*.
As for 'shoddy logic', take a good look at what you wrote. Enough said.

I have to agree with Colin on this one. Abut the only thing you even know about this topic is "ohhhh the poor little animals". You have no other frame of reference and 0 ethics.

Yup, a fanatic.

Answer the question
You sound like a politician with is pecker caught in an intern. Just answer the question.

Please try to figure out if you can think before you try to write.

I checked, next to hypocrite is a photo of you.

I can respect that
If you honestly believe what you write here, you would never use most types of cleaners, cosemtics or medical facilities. I may disagree, but at least you stand by your belief.

I find that comment fascinating. Please expand.

re. Answer the question
Hmm...'Pauled' that past tense for Paul?
If you had actually read what I wrote you wouldn't have written this response now would you?
Well, yes you would because you obviously weren't able to decipher the answer contained within.

So, silly one, what do I lokk like then?

re. I can respect that
Well, perhaps we are in fact making progress here. I don't make a habit of writing things that I do not believe, not am I about to say one thing and do the complete opposite.

That would make me somewhat akin to those who claim to be of certain belief systems that say "...judge not, lest ye be judged...", among others.

Humans have a tendency towards saying one thing and doing another, often times. I choose to not do that. It would be unethical and hypocritical...

You said - "So, silly one, what do I lokk like then? Moron."

I can't argue with that!!

you did not answer, you avoided the answer with a very evasive non-response. I know why you did it; Colin had you painted in a corner and you were either unwilling or unable to go through the long explaination of your stand.

"Hmm...'Pauled' that past tense for Paul?"

Yes, I'm your long dead great uncle coming back to try and keep you from becoming a complete lunatic.

On this we completely agree
but i still think you must have a scr ew loose to be this deep into animal activism.

Hey, it's your scr ew, you can keep it as loose as you want.

Can I say
Gotcha to this stupid loser now?

We can go through the insults and mudslinging forever, but I'm not going to deal with this joker again until he answers or refutes my previous post.

It's too easy
These people wouldn't recognize a logical argument if it came up and kicked their teeth out.

Is it asking too much to say, "Guys, give me a logical argument for your position, rather than a lot of propaganda and meaningless rhetoric and emotionalism?"

too late
he's already a complete idiot.

Animal Rights/Wrongs
I notice that the anti-animal-experimentation-crowd has declined to assure us they would never, ever partake of medical treatment that had, in any way, been tested first on animals. (If they would refuse medical treatment, then the problem of animal rights terrorism will be self-correcting since sooner or later they will have gone the way of the dinosaur.)

So, since they apparently refuse to go on the record that you would disovow any modern medical treatment, let me try this question on our enlightened friends of animals: Your daughter and your dog are playing in the street. A large semi has slipped its breaks and is bearing down on them. You have time only to save one of your loved ones. Will it be your daughter? Will it be your dog?

Or will you spend so much time worrying over the morality of making either choice that the truck slams into both?

it's like abu grahib
One or two bad apples, and immediately the entire industry is condemned.

re. On this we completely agree
No artificial or metallic contrivances in me either!

re. yep
If you need to note typos as some proof of my being a moron, so be it...whatever makes you feel better.
Personally, I chose not to note those made by you and others, including 'misquito'...

In my opinion…
Yes. He refuses to answer the question.

I wasn't trying to make fun of the typo…
we all have them here. I was just agreeing that you are a moron.

re. Can I say
What does this mean?
"Gotcha to this stupid loser now?"
Even as slang it makes no sense..."Got you to this stupid loser now?"

As for the other part of your commentary-the promise you just made, I will not show you where and how I answered your question, since it might mean you will deal with me again-here is where I am assuming that the term 'joker' refers to me...

Your right
That is what probably got me out of the grave to begin with •sigh•. Perhaps it time to retire back tot he dirt from which I came… Naaaaaaahhhhhhh to much fun here!

re. it's like abu grahib
Interesting analogy...institutionalised torture versus institutionalised torture....

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