The UCLA Pro-Test Rally: Researchers stand up to animal rights terrorism

Better late than never, given that DrugMonkey has already been all over this. Unfortunately, there was another serious outbreak of antivaccine idiocy over at HuffPo that I felt I had to deal with before this:

It was a great day indeed. For far too long, animal rights terrorists have intimidated reesarchers into silence. According to the L.A. Times:

Competing rallies at UCLA today over the controversial issue of animal research are peaceful so far, with supporters of the research appearing to outnumber opponents by more than 10 to 1.

About 400 people, including UCLA faculty, staff and students, have joined a pro-research rally on the northwest corner of Westwood Boulevard and Le Conte Avenue, just south of the campus. The demonstrators are carrying signs with such slogans as “Animal research saves lives” and “Campus terrorism is not OK.”

As numerous police officers stood by, the pro-research group briefly traded slogans across Westwood Boulevard with a smaller, rival rally of about 30 animal rights activists on the intersection’s northeast corner. Opponents of the research contend that UCLA scientists ignore the suffering of primates and other animals used in the experiments.

Two men in monkey suits were among the animal rights demonstrators; one wore chains and climbed into a cage to simulate the captivity of the animals in UCLA’s laboratories.

The animal rights activists, who were marking an annual observance of World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week, eventually moved away, toward the campus, where they were expected to continue their rally and hear speeches.

The animal rights terrorists who have been vandalizing scientists’ cars and threatening violence are a fringe group. However, their voices have always been much louder than the “silent majority” of scientists and the public who support research that improves our knowledge of disease and develops new treatments, as long as the animals are treated well and suffering is minimized. For too long, animal rights extremists have had the public relations stage virtually to themselves, and this Pro-Test Rally was an excellent demonstration of what scientists can do when they refuse to be cowed. Remember, this is about animal welfare, but not animal rights. Animal welfare. Scientists are very much concerned with animal welfare, and animal research is a highly regulated endeavor. Animal rights are not the same thing as animal welfare.

Even better, animal rights terrorists who have been thuggishly intimidating scientists are now facing stiff consequences for their crimes, some of which have included arson, attempted arson, and other acts of vandalism against its professors and researchers, along with many unrealized threats.

You can join the effort too by supporting Speaking of Research and signing a pro-research petition. Here’s hoping that this is just the beginning of a much needed pushback against extremists.