Fighting back against animal rights terrorists

Enough.

I don’t know about you, but as a surgeon and a biomedical researcher, I’m fed up with animal rights terrorists who threaten biomedical research with their misinformation about animal research, their terroristic attacks on scientists who engage in such research, and listening to the despicable self-righteous idiot who is a disgrace to surgeons everywhere, Dr. Jerry Vlasak, spouting off about how assassinating researchers who use animals as part of their research would be justified.

And apparently I’m not alone. Scientists at UCLA, which, along with UC Santa Cruz, is at ground zero for the animal rights movement in the U.S., have decided to do something about it. They’ve formed their own chapter of Pro-Test, and, even better, they’ve decided to get in the faces of the animal rights terrorist crowd:

The campus movement, UCLA Pro-Test, has organized a demonstration on Wednesday, April 22nd in order to support medical research; it will coincide with the “World Week for Animals in Laboratories” rally organized by various anti-research extremist groups. The upcoming UCLA Pro-Test demonstration parallels the 2006 demonstrations by the UK student organization Pro-Test, which opened the public debate on animal research in the UK and contributed to the downfall of animal rights activism in the UK. One of UK Pro-Tests founders, Tom Holder, will be on hand at the Los Angeles rally to show his support for our efforts and to emcee the event.

UCLA faculty and students conducting cutting-edge research on the biology of mental disorders and treatments for AIDS and pediatric afflictions have been the victims of increasingly vicious and hateful attacks because of the direct or indirect involvement of animals in their studies. Animal research is crucial for the development of most medical breakthroughs, including the development of insulin and penicillin and the creation of treatments for leukemia and breast cancer. Without such methods, medical progress would be severely impaired.

“Year after year, anti-biomedical research activities in Los Angeles (primarily directed against UCLA faculty and students) have grown (in size and methodology). They have written terrible and hateful lies about us. They have maligned us and our University. They have scared adults and children alike at home. They destroyed our property and sense of security and threatened some of our lives. Their momentum is building. All this while, we haven’t risen up as a group and said ‘enough is enough.’ The time has come.” – David Jentsch.

Actually, it’s long past time. For too long, scientists have remained silent, cowed by the rhetoric of sanctimonious idiots like Dr. Vlasak, who clearly cares far more for animals than his fellow human beings and thinks nothing of advocating murder in the name of his cause. Of course, he’s also a coward in that he never actually takes part in any of these animal rights “actions.” Oh, no. He can’t get his hands dirty. He can’t take any actual risks. Why should he, when he has a band of useful idiots, usually college-age kids whose natural idealism has been warped beyond recognition. Legitimate complaints about abuses that may be visited upon animals have been used to persuade them that all animal research is wrong. Animal rights have been confused with animal welfare. The end justifies the means. Mice, even Drosophila, are worth as much as–more, in practice, than–human beings.

If there’s one thing about the animal rights movement, it’s profoundly antiscientific. It’s Luddite to its very core. Animal rights activists deny that animal research has ever produced any advances in medicine, a demonstrably false claim. The claim more than that, namely that animal research is misleading, that it actually slows down medical progress. They argue that computer models and cell culture can substitute for animal research. Would that were true! But that, too, is false. Moreover, researchers have been working for years to try to minimize the use of experimental animals. They’ve also been working to minimize any pain and suffering. Indeed, animal research is the second most highly regulated form of biomedical research after human subjects research. Just in my neck of the woods (two institutions where I’ve worked), in the 9 years that I’ve been an independent investigator, the length and complexity of protocol applications for animal research have tripled or quadrupled in length and complexity.

Here’s another thing. Notice where the hotbeds of animal rights terrorism are: Los Angeles and UC Santa Cruz, the latter of which is about 60 miles south of the Bay Area. Notice anything? That’s right. They’re also the same areas in California that are hotbeds of antivaccine activism and high levels of claimed “philosophical” exemption for vaccination. While it’s true that correlation does not necessarily equal causation, the correlation between antivaccine lunacy and animal rights terrorism, I suspect, is more than just a coincidence, as is the prevalence of pseudoscientific, mystical, New Age woo in the same areas. Antiscientific beliefs tend not to remain restricted to just one area; they tend to be associated with each other. It’s crank magnetism in action, and it endangers us all, whether it’s due to parents who think vaccines are dangerous because a former Playboy Playmate and gross-out comedienne tells them they are or animal rights terrorists who stifle potentially life-saving research.

This is a battle that’s about more than animal rights. It’s about science and reason, as opposed to unreason. It’s about fighting back against the incipient Age of Endarkenment. It’s about not letting antiscientific radicals prevent scientific progress or endanger everyone’s children.