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Animal Rights’ Firebombings

It would seem that animal rights’ terrorists are at it again, this time with a spate of firebombings in SouthernNorthern California.

One might be sympathetic to the child-like adoration of animals, without a doubt. You might even naively think that researchers using animal test subjects are some kind of torturers. Then you find out that there are protections for the ethical treatment of animals for research, like the Animal Welfare Act. And then you find out that this research saves lives in the long run.

knockoutmiceAs I’ve mentioned before, these extremists harbor no interest whatsoever in participating as civil members of a civil society. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who outwardly look like decent people, who have signed up as supporters of such activist groups. But looks can be deceiving. Supporting such animal rights extremist groups is the mark of someone who is uninformed and condones violence.

I don’t say this for the sake of ranting, just to get your attention a little. The solution, as always, is educating people.

As Drug Monkey points out, a good start is to get potential new animal rights extremism supporters to read the Animal Welfare Act. That, afterall, is the law we should be talking about. (laws matter, right?) As the original act states (click the AWA link for its expansions and clarifications):

Enacted August 24, 1966, Public Law 89-544 is what commonly is referred to as The Animal Welfare Act although that title is not mentioned within the law. It authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to regulate transport, sale, and handling of dogs, cats, nonhuman primates, guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits intended to be used in research or “for other purposes.” It requires licensing and inspection of dog and cat dealers and humane handling at auction sales.

Another area to educate people on is the guidelines that major scientific organizations put implace to police themselves. Such as the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research run by the National Academies of Science. Not only do ILAR and other groups establish internal guidelines and help scientists to follow them, they publish reports and books constantly re-evaluating and validating current standards to ensure humane treatment of animals. Take this book, for instance, which establishes the factual basis for the causes of animal distress and how to alleviate it:

The first in a two-part update of ILAR’s 1992 report, Recognition and Alleviation of Distress in Laboratory Animals, focuses on the distress experienced by animals used in laboratory research. This book aims to educate laboratory animal veterinarians, students, and researchers, animal care staff, and animal welfare officers on the current scientific and ethical issues associated with stress and distress in laboratory animals. The report evaluates pertinent scientific literature and generates practical and pragmatic guidelines for the recognition, alleviation, and minimization of distress for animals in the laboratory setting.

And you can read a lot more also at Speaking of Research. For instance, SoR explains the animal model, as neatly explained in “The Animal Research War”, by Michael Conn and James Parker:

If you are going to study a human disease you can’t, for ethical reasons, perform the initial work in humans; you have to develop a model. Some models may be in vitro – literally, in glass tubes – but as you learn more and more, you must eventually test ideas in vivo- in living animals. That means you have to have a way of producing the disease that allows you to study it.

Let’s consider AIDS, one of Podell’s interests. You could take its causative agent, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), grow it in a test tube, and kill it by pouring bleach on it. Do you now have a way to kill HIV? Yes, you do. Do you have a treatment that can be used in humans? Absolutely not: bleach is toxic. Killing HIV in a test tube and killing it in a living animal are two very different accomplishments.

To complicate things further, viruses grow differently in test tubes than in humans. Humans have an immune system: test tubes do not. A virus growing in a test tube is not a good model for the human disease, but drugs that don’t kill the test tube virus probably won’t work in humans either – and these might be eliminated from further consideration.

Animal models allow closer approximation to a human response. They are not perfect, of course; animals host different diseases and different responses. While the fundamentals of life are the same – there is a 67 percent similarity between the DNA of humans and earthworms – there are differences in species and even in individual animals. Some animals are good human-like models for one thing and some for another; some have a cardiovascular system that is similar to humans while others have similar skin.(3)

And lots of people are talking about this (hardly an exhaustive list, I’m sure):

Drug Monkey
Discovering Biology in a Digital World
Terra Sigillata
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Evolving Thoughts
Respectful Insolence
A Blog Around the Clock
The Frontal Cortex
Built on Facts
Dr. Joan Bushwell’s Chimpanzee Refuge
Greg Laden’s Blog

Let’s fight extremism and support civility, decency, and the proper grasp of the facts, shall we?

8 Comments

  1. Dan on August 19, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Becca,
    If you’re not aware that ALF is a terrorist organization supporting violence, that’s not my problem. It’s also not my problem that you missed the link to a chronology of such violence in my first comment. And, labeling them as terrorists is entirely warranted… Connee reflected their support of violence in her comment (note: not my words), “AR people value ALL life but have NO problem with destroying the property of people who commit acts of violence against sentient beings.” Acts of violence against animals?! Please.

  2. Becca on August 18, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Dan- are you renouncing the Iraq war? Are you refusing to pay taxes to support it? Are you attending protests?

    Are you sure our society rejects violence as a political tool?

    Mind you, I personally try to reject violence as a political tool. I’m happy to renounce it. I have bigger worries than the firebombing, as far as that battle goes.

    Anyway, if you can show me that ALF (who I didn’t bring into this) is responsible for acts of violence, I’ll happily renounce them. However, my point was that I don’t think it is reasonable to say “Ack! Evil animal rights groups!” without actually identifying a group responsible for an evil act. There are animal rights groups (i.e. PETA) that, although they contain more than their fair share of nutjobs, also contain many reasonable members.

    It’s divisive and unreasonable to describe members of animal rights groups (generally) as terrorists.

    I honestly feel it’s nearly as irresponsible as assuming Muslims are all terrorists. If that’s not what you’re trying to do (and I really don’t think you’re irrational enough to do so), you need to write a smidge more precisely. Be clear about where you’re pointing the finger.

    I’m not pretending anything. I am asking for evidence, for more data (since you presented *none* in your post that actually links any given group to this act).

    DM- see above. I know you aren’t foolish enough to assume all inquisitive undegrads as terrorists. I just don’t want to see you condoning incredibly sloppy thinking and “us v. them” mentality.

  3. Dan on August 17, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Becca,
    So you’re pretending that animal rights groups (e.g., the Animal Liberation Front) are nonviolent? Are you serious?

    Connee,
    Your initial complaints in your comment are fine, but then you speak of the animal rights terrorists as though they were not *bleeping* insane. Sorry, but you jumped the shark on that one – not to mention pretending that groups like the ALF are nonviolent.

    To both of you, I urge you to renounce violence as a political tool.

    Peggy,
    Thanks for pointing out my mistake.

  4. Connee on August 16, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Here is what I think about that law.
    I have read it and wish that it was followed…but, I know that it isn’t. We have many laws that protect animals but almost NO enforcement and a law is only as good as the enforcement. The Humane Slaughter Act was placed to protect farm animals from abuse in slaughter houses, but, it is a joke.The International Whaling Commission banned the slaughter of whales in 1986, but since then more than 25,000 whales have been killed. So, tell me, what good is a law that will not be enforced by any one? It is merely set into place for people such as yourself to point to and say “See, you wacko animal rights people are uniformed. We have these laws!” They are probably the most informed people on the planet and that is why they risk everything, knowing they can lose their freedom. Follow the money…you will find that the people who fight that fight are real heroes. Also, I do not think ALF was involved in that attack in Santa Cruz, that is not their method. They are nonviolent towards people. Property is a different matter. I believe that it is a setup by the law enforcement to rid their selves of a group the FBI has declared the number one domestic terrorist group in the US. This was questioned in Congress…why not prolifers which have murdered people and bombed buildings with people in them? AR people value ALL life but have NO problem with destroying the property of people who commit acts of violence against sentient beings.

  5. DM on August 14, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    the notion that I described all inquisitive undergrads as terrorists is complete and utter hogwash, since we’re discussing lumping and ridiculous painting and all becca.

  6. Peggy on August 14, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Good post. I just want to be pedantic and point out that the fire bombings were in Santa Cruz, which is considered to be in Northern Californa, not Southern California.

  7. Becca on August 14, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    “Supporting such animal rights extremist groups is the mark of someone who is uninformed and condones violence.”
    Ok, so if we’re trying to “support… the proper grasp of the facts” will you kindly tell me 1) what *group* is responsible for the attacks in Santa Cruz (and if you know this information, why you haven’t contacted the Santa Cruz law enforcement authorties?) 2) what “groups” you deem extremist? 3) what evidence you have that the majority of the supporters of any given animal rights group are uninformed?

    You’ve gotten my attention all right. The rest of your post is reasonable enough (I’m horrified by what’s happened to these folks), but there’s no reason to lump in everyone who has ever supported an animal rights organiziation with these criminals. After DM’s ridiculous painting of all inquisitive undergrads with the broad brush of terrorists, I’m not anxious to scientists assuming *they* are the ones with (exclusive) “proper grasp of the facts” while they are just increasing the alienation of anyone who might be a moderate on this issue.

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