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Animal rights terrorists target students as the “soft underbelly of the vivisection movement”

I’ve made no secret of my disdain for self-proclaimed “animal rights” activists, the ones who are more than willing to terrorize scientists doing research to understand disease better and thereby develop better treatments and even cures. None of this means that I am some sort of “animal abuser” (to steal the animal rights jargon) or that I’m cruel and advocate “torturing” animals. There is a difference between animal rights and animal welfare; animal rights activists in essence equate a mouse with a rat with a dog with a pig with a human being. In any case, I’ve reported how animal rights activists have tried to intimidate scientists through terrorism and intimidate their children, using dubious scientific and moral arguments to justify their actions. Indeed, one of the movement’s high priests, disgraced trauma surgeon Dr. Jerry Vlasak even argues that murder is an acceptable in his cause. Meanwhile, they pull stunts that are impossible to parody, so ridiculous are they to begin with. Even death doesn’t sway some of them from their beliefs, and some of them also appear to fetishize violence.

One of most odiously despicable of the animal rights terrorists (or terrorist wannabes, given that many of them, like Vlasak, assiduously avoid being associated with anything blatantly illegal but instead prefer to use inflammatory rhetoric to inspire college-aged kids who are long on idealism but short on wits to do their dirty work for them) is Camille Marino, who runs the equally odiously despicable Negotiation Is Over website. We’ve run into her before as a supporter of targeting researchers’ children, having said:

If daddy makes a living bathing in blood, you have to expect some of it to drip off onto junior.

Well, she’s at it again.

At Florida Atlantic University, there is a student named Alena Rodriguez. She is a junior majoring in biology who wrote:

Hello! My name is Alena Rodriguez, and I’m a junior at FAU. I’m working toward a BS degree in biology with a minor in psychology. I developed a passion for life sciences early in high school and have been studying for a career in biology ever since. My goal is to become a research biologist.

During my time at FAU, I have taken advanced science courses, excelled in my academic labs, tutored my peers, and held an executive position for the Chemistry Club of FAU. There was only one thing missing; I had yet to be in a real lab. Luckily, I heard about the URM-NSF program, which is now providing me with the opportunity to do just that! I look forward to participating in this program in hopes that it will provide me with the training and knowledge to be a successful graduate student, and, ultimately, an influential scientist.

Specifically, I am interested in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, as well as biochemistry. I hope to someday be a part of the growing research that aims to find treatments and cures for cancer and other diseases. I am also inspired by biotechnology because its discoveries improve human health.

Let me tell you, it warms the cockles of this scientist’s heart (or the multicolored blinking lights of this Plexiglass box) to read such words coming from a young, enthusiastic student studying science. This is exactly the sort of young woman we want in science: straight A, enthusiastic, and willing to speak her mind. Unfortunately, her willingness to speak her mind ran her afoul of hte animal rights movement. In response to solicitations to attend an animal rights event near her school called Bioblitz!, Alena wrote an e-mail back to someone named Ghazal Tajalli (Facebook page) that said:

Actually, I’m an undergrad researcher aiming to work at Scripps! I currently test on animals and think that it is perfectly fine. In fact, it is the one of the only ways that we, scientists, can test drugs in order to treat human diseases. I’m sure someone in your family or even a friend you know has suffered from a disease or pathology that was treated (or cured) by medicines THAT ONLY CAME INTO EXISTENCE BECAUSE OF ANIMAL TESTING.

Her willingness to speak out and tell it like it is is another reason why Alena is just the sort of student we want to recruit into science. One week ago NIO posted a gloating article Alena Rodriguez: Publically Denounces Vivisection & Abandons Career Plans With Scripps. Apparently, the animal rights activists, led by the self-same Ghazal, “reeducated” Alena:

Having received some intense education from the networks of Florida activists overnight, however, Alena now understands that, just like every other student being indoctrinated into the horrific world of institutionalized animal abuse, “I was naive…I really just did not know about all this stuff.”

In the rest of the post, NIO included a statement from Alena denouncing animal research, pleading “ignorance” of all these “horrible things” going on, and offering an apology for her previous statements. It’s all very Soviet-style in that the straying comrade has been brought into the fold and forced to publicly confess her “crimes” before being offerend a chance at absolution.

Gee, I wonder what that “intense education” consisted of. I don’t know for sure, but I can make a reasonable guess. My guess is that they flooded Alena’s e-mail with threats, and posts like this cached post entitled Alena Rodriguez: Hang your head in shame you disgusting ANIMAL ABUSER! This post is no longer posted on the NIO blog, probably because Alena recanted under pressure, but of note Ghazal published Alena’s e-mail address on the NIO website, urging her fellow animal rights loons to “e-mail her.” She also posted the link to Alena’s Facebook page. Ghazal even urged people to spam Alena’s FAU Chemistry Club.

Sadly, Ghazal’s harassment obviously worked. As P.Z. Myers mentions and NIO gloats about, Alena recanted, apologized, and begged Ghazal to leave her alone. The bully had won. She had done what she had promised to do upon joining NIO Florida, taking the position of Senior Editor of Disturbing the Abusers’ Peace, where she was described as “part of the core group working to organize a network of militant activism across the state” for NIO Florida. Clearly, Ghazal abused Alena’s peace until she gave in, which is the way animal rights activists work, just like criminal thugs. Indeed, in the early morning hours of March 23, Alena e-mailed Ghazal saying:

I’m sorry! You all are right! : ( please stop saying such horrible, untrue things about me. It’s hurtful. I’ve done nothing but fruit fly research. I’m crying because of this… I’m sorry….

I can’t help but wonder: Aren’t fruit flies animals too? Will Camille and her gang of motivated but not too bright terrorists keep harassing Alena if she continues to do Drosophila research? Think of the carnage! Thousands upon thousands of innocent fruit flies will be slaughtered! Some of them will suffer from mutations induced in their DNA or have exogenous genes inserted into their genome that alter their anatomy or function, all in the name of science trying to figure out what these genes do! The horror! To Camille and company, apparently the mass slaughter of fruit flies in the name of science is morally acceptable, but experimenting on mice is not. After all, Alena recanted her previous belief that animal research was morally acceptable, but she said nothing about stopping her Drosophila research. Truly, the thought processes of radical animal rights terrorists like Camille that lead to the conclusions that animal experiments utilizing rodents are pure evil while such experiments that slaughter insects are not are beyond the puny ethical faculties of mere scientists.

Dubious moral reasoning to justify harassment and intimidation aside, buoyed by the success of its intimidation of a college student, NIO has now gleefully decided that its members and supporters should generalize these tactics. In a spittle-flecked and disturbing post, NIO über-crank Camille Marino crows about Bringing the War to the Student Body – The Soft-Bellied Target of the Vivisection Complex:

…while many above ground strategies remain ineffective, the MDA campaigns of the animal liberation underground — liberating animals from captivity, inflicting economic damage through sabotage, and creative intimidation tactics — have yielded quantifiable gains. But even tougher means may be necessary to end the billion-dollar animal holocaust industry by bringing the war home to the vivisectors, professors, academic departments and administrators, and the entire staff of private research facilities. But only about 2% of the animal liberation/anti-vivisectionist movement is fought by underground activists. That leaves 98% of us free to use the light of day to start chipping away at the aspects of industry that remain hidden in shadows.

Every time a vivisector’s car or home — and, eventually, the abuser him/herself — blows up, flames of liberation light up the sky. And now we have a golden opportunity to begin to destroy the foundations upon which Bogus Big Pharma and the academic-industrial complex rest — the vivisection research model can be made unworkable and obsolete.

“Creative intimidation tactics”? Is there any clearer statement that intimidation through the threat of violence against researchers is the stock in trade of how these people work? But it’s even worse than that. What Marino wants to do is to target young, aspiring scientists when they are still young, because they are “far more malleable and easily manipulated.” In addition, she threatens:

Like all young adults, college students are acutely concerned with how they are perceived by their peers. They need to maintain a certain persona if they wish to continue to enjoy the acceptance of their community. This makes them infinitely more susceptible to negative and inflammatory publicity than their veteran-mutilator counterparts. When education fails, smear campaigns can be highly effective. Abusers have forfeited all rights to privacy and peace of mind and, if an abuser-to-be should fail to make the correct choice now, NIO is here to broadcast all of their personal information. Remember, young people document every facet of their personal lives online. In about 30 minutes, we were able to compile an impressive and comprehensive profile for Alena.

Despicable smear campaigns do appear to be the animal rights movement’s stock in trade, which is why I have likened the anti-vaccine movement to the animal rights movement. I like the part about “when education fails, smear campaigns can be highly effective.” Basically, to the animal rights movement “education” consists of harassment and intimidation. Those who stand up to the harassment and intimidation can next expect a smear campaign. Then, if the smear campaign doesn’t work to intimidate its enemies into silence or recanting (as Alena did), then NIO, like other animal rights terrorists, will ratchet up the threats:

Students also need to understand that making the wrong choice will result in a lifetime of grief. Aspiring scientists envision curing cancer at the Mayo Clinic. We need to impart a new vision: car bombs, 24/7 security cameras, embarrassing home demonstrations, threats, injuries, and fear. And, of course, these students need to realize that any personal risk they are willing to assume will also be visited upon their parents, children, and nearest & dearest loved ones. The time to reconsider is now.

The problem is, Marino has probably hit on a fairly effective strategy. College students are probably more susceptible to intimidation and threats than older scientists. On the other hand, college students don’t usually have children whom the animal rights movement can threaten; so they are probably less susceptible than established scientists to threats against family. Be that as it may, what Marino forgets is that people, when under threat, will sometimes say anything to get their harassers off their back. Indeed, i wouldn’t blame Alena in the least if she had done exactly that. After all, she doesn’t need this nonsense; she needs to study and continue to earn straight A’s in order to be accepted to a good graduate program. Almost any reasonable tactic to get the idiots off her back would be hard to argue with, and, if that’s what Alena did, I don’t blame her in the least. Indeed, I might have advised her to do the same thing to get rid of the loonies: Tell them what they want to hear and then do what you were going to do anyway. Indeed, I hope that’s what Alena did. I don’t want to lose her as a future biologist.

In the meantime, I can’t help but contemplate what utter Luddites Camille Marino, Ghazal Tajalli, Jerry Vlasak, and the rest of the animal rights terrorists are. They’ve now intentionally decided that the best way to achieve their goals is to target the youth of America, specifically the youth we most need, those who are interested in becoming scientists. Given how hard it is to be accepted to graduate school and how long and hard the training is to become a biologist or biomedical researcher, only to look forward to the absolutely dismal chances of achieving independent funding that exist in the current federal budgetary environment, the last thing we need now for our national competitiveness in science is a bunch of anti-science loons trying to frighten young people away from a career in the biological and biomedical sciences with visions of car bombs and 24/7 intimidation.

Fortunately, I believe that our college students are made of sterner stuff than Camille Marino apparently does. I don’t think they’re quite as “soft” an underbelly” as Marino does. When push comes to shove, I predict that fewer of them will back down than Marino thinks, providing far fewer recantations than she wants for her twisted website.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

190 replies on “Animal rights terrorists target students as the “soft underbelly of the vivisection movement””

Maybe re-educating the NIO lot is the only possible situation in which Lovaas’ ‘work’ could actually be put to any ethical use!

I’m not beyond using it for that purpose, given how they treat people like Alena.

You know, I oppose animal testing but not from any sort of concern for “Animal rights.”

I just think animal rights activists would often make better subjects.

Isn’t Marino more or less openly calling for violence against students in animal testing? I thought that crossed the boundaries of free speech into criminality.

In any case, have the FBI go after some of these psychotic scumfucks, and slap the more extreme ones with domestic terrorism charges. That’ll scare them, and get some of the truly dangerous ones behind bars (I hope).

That’s more than blantant & does cross the line into areas of “incitement of violence.” I can guarantee you that the FBI is already involved.

I’ve read some of the posts at NIO before, but even by their standards this is pretty chilling stuff.

The threats of AR extremists like Marino are 90% bluster, that is little comfort to those who suddenly find themselves at the receiving end of it for the first time. I expect that you are right about Alena lying to NIO to get them off her back, after all, there’s no shame in lying to terrorists.

I hope that Alena receives the support from her friends and colleagues at FAU, and the wider scientific community, to eventually be able to tell NIO to go to hell.

There is good precident for students standing up to animal rights extremism. In the UK the ALF no doubt thought that students were “Soft bellied” when they threatened students at Oxford University a few years ago, but they got a very bloody nose when the students decided that they weren’t going to put up with it anymore http://scientificactivist.blogspot.com/2006/02/oxford-scientists-bite-back-at-animal.html

I hope that students in the US are made of the same stern stuff!

Typical bully tactics.
Oh, and — it may be 90% bluster but it’s meant to attract the attention of someone who’s unbalanced enough to actually do something.

Apparently the “animal rights” nutbags have been observing how nutbags operate, like anti-woman/anti-abortion types: Use rhetoric to incite violence and murder, then disavow responsibility after they succeed.

It’s also used in politics. Remember “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,” then the lie that “we never claimed they had nuclear weapons”? You can’t get the stupid to perpetrate and justify violence if you don’t create the climate for it to happen.

The tyranny of the animal-rights activist has to stop. Why is it that we can’t just harass and hurt them back? Turn the tables and pour out am equal measure of wrath? Show them that they do, indeed, reap what they sow?

Lucario “Why is it that we can’t just harass and hurt them back? Turn the tables and pour out am equal measure of wrath? Show them that they do, indeed, reap what they sow?”

Because we are better than that!

I wonder from a legal standpoint, where does criminal harassment end and terrorism start?

Just like the author, I don’t know the content or tactics of the ‘intense education’ – unlike the author, i have no direct interest in animal experimentation and i’ve never been on the receiving end of the animal rights crowd’s wrath. Therefore, I won’t make any assumptions one way or the other. But perhaps the reason students are more susceptible to that content and tactics is less because they’re kids concerned with acceptance and more because they’ve yet to have a vested interest in the practice. people don’t like to feel that what they do is bad – and when confronted with evidence they either justify, excuse, differentiate, or tune out. if your life’s work is built on animal experimentation, you’re a lot more likely to have a psychological need for justification than a student who has never engaged in animal experiments or has only dabbled. plus, people tend to justify things that are in their self interest. i’m a lawyer involved in civil litigation and you don’t know how many times colleagues cite the virtues of our system of civil justice to justify the rotten role they play in it – i’m sure their conviction has something to do with self interest. law students are far more likely to be idealists.

You should see Camille’s blog; she’s practically squeeing with delight over all the attention. I wonder if she’ll be as happy when the FBI knocks on her door.

Has anyone from scienceblogs tried to contact Alena’s (notice how the ARA loons can’t even spell her name right, half the time it’s Elena) school to make sure she is alright? I hope that her instructors at school are helping her.

I also wonder if this whole attack on her is just out of spite. Ms. Tajalli contacts her thinking she’s another ARA and she turns out to be a research student. The whole thing seems very high school to me.

quote: Isn’t Marino more or less openly calling for violence against students in animal testing? I thought that crossed the boundaries of free speech into criminality.

I think Marino is, based on what I received from Americans for Medical Progress. So I sent a heads-up to fellow IACUC members and vivarium staff at my place, and sent the notice to daughter in college. She’s sending it on to her dean to ensure the security of students, faculty, and staff. Daughter has a rat dissection lab tomorrow.

But perhaps the reason students are more susceptible to that content and tactics is less because they’re kids concerned with acceptance and more because they’ve yet to have a vested interest in the practice.

Frankly, that’s stupid bullshit. You’re saying “Young people who have only just recently become adults have not yet gone into the careers that give them a vested interest in the practice, therefore they see the situation more honestly than older people; they give in to what the animal rights activists want because they see the rightness of the activists’ cause.” Except if that was true, the animal rights terrorists wouldn’t need to use threats!

These nutcases refer proudly to their “creative intimidation tactics” and “smear campaigns” and “broadcast[ing] all of [a victim’s] personal information” and “impart[ing] a new vision [of] car bombs, 24/7 security cameras, embarrassing home demonstrations, threats, injuries, and fear [which] will also be visited upon their parents, children, and nearest & dearest loved ones” — and you have the stupidity to stand up on your hind legs and bray that it isn’t the announced intention of the animal rights activists to coerce compliance through terror that evokes compliance, it’s some more refined perception of the moral landscape shared between the animal rights terrorists and the victims they call in plain language their “soft-bellied target”??

It’s too bad that you’re only involved in civil litigation. I’d love to see you disbarred when the bar association discovered that you knew your client was attempting witness intimidation but you condoned it because you thought that trying to instill witnesses with ‘a vision of car bombs visited upon their loved ones’ was an attempt to appeal to a finer, less blunted moral sense in them.

The real irony is that animal rights activists have such small minds, they could benefit a lot from having a vivisected rat brain inserted into their heads as a better substitute.

Even without the threats of violence, the disappearance of lab animals from classrooms (for budget and ethical reasons) makes us all worse students.

In any case, have the FBI go after some of these psychotic scumfucks, and slap the more extreme ones with domestic terrorism charges.

But they don’t appear to be Middle Eastern or Islamic therefore they can’t be terrorists. (/snark)

One NIO supporter on the Pharyngula thread said, apparently seriously, that terrorism was crashing planes into buildings. Period. No other act was terrorism. It’s an interesting rationalization.

Feldspar @14

You have the stupidity to stand up on your hind legs and bray that it isn’t the announced intention of the animal rights activists to coerce compliance through terror that evokes compliance, it’s some more refined perception of the moral landscape shared between the animal rights terrorists and the victims they call in plain language their “soft-bellied target”??

I thought that’s what happened in every Iranian confession video where Western tourists realized the error of their ways and denounced the wickedness of America. You’re not telling me those weren’t real heartfelt moments of remorse, innocently captured on state television, are you?

I’ve heard of lawyers naively believing a client was really innocent but this beggars immagination.

*yawn*

You make yourself look the crazy person by calling ARA’s all sorts of things under the sun in this article.

We all know (well the EDUCATED ones) that animal testing = more drugs thrown down the pan than drugs being successful on humans, and not all diseases have been ‘cured’ by animal testing. So what the student said was absolute nonsense.

That said, you whine and moan about the tactics ARA’s use yet continuously use similar tactics/or styles on the animals you abuse in the lab. You abuse and murder animals in a lab then you should be the ones who REAP WHAT YOU SEW.

It’s sad how scientists will continue to defend their sick, twisted job, probably because the nice paycheck and a secret satisfaction in having power over another being is worth more than any ounce of respect for said living being to them. Shame on you.

Wow. What a bunch of bullshit that NIO site is.

It struck me as a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. They marginalize themselves with the violent rhetoric, which means that (at least in their perception) they have even fewer normal opportunities to advance their cause, thus “ensuring” that the only avenue left open to them is one of violence, intimidation, and terrorism. Yet it’s completely manufactured and entirely their fault that no one takes them seriously. Like typical bullies, they act like assholes and then blame the rest of us for treating them like pariahs.

If it weren’t so insidious and nasty it would be like a child throwing a temper tantrum.

The other thing occurred to me is that it is disturbingly similar to the acts of Taliban thugs who throw acid in little girls’ faces on their way to school. Actually, it’s more or less the same thing, minus the acid. I wonder if they have enough self-awareness to notice that?

@Alex

While not all medical procedures or products came about through animal testing, a great many have. If you feel that strongly about it, then I recommend that you put your convictions to the forefront and refuse any and all medical treatment should you ever require it. After all, acquiescing to medical care would merely validate the animal testing you so despise.

Also, you may want to note that some things that were tested in animals for humans ended up becoming medicines to treat and save animals!

All that said, advocating intimidation, bomb threats and outright violence is never a solution to any problem and just speaks to the moral bankruptcy of the individual advocating those tactics.

It’s sad how ARAs like you will continue to defend sick, twisted tactics against animals (i.e., homo sapiens sapiens), probably because of a secret satisfaction in having power over another being is worth more than any ounce of respect for said living being to them. Shame on you.

I read the Parody linked page and wondered; am I the only person who read their phrase “After several years of living in filthy conditions and being forced to produce 10 times more milk than they would naturally, their exhausted bodies are turned into hamburgers or ground up for soup.” and got hungry?

Alex, speaking of reaping what you sow, are you looking forward to having heart surgery done on you by someone who, once you ban all animal use in research and training, has never done it before on any entity?

Then again, if you’re an anti-research loon, you probably don’t believe in science in general, and so will happily die about thirty years before your time chanting sutras while clutching a cross in one hand and a dreamcatcher in the other, in true finest woo-age belief syncretism.

@Alex,

“secret satisfaction in having power over another being is worth more than any ounce of respect for said living being to them.”

I totally agree,

Signed: Threatening people’s children to make them agree with you

Diane:

One NIO supporter on the Pharyngula thread said, apparently seriously, that terrorism was crashing planes into buildings. Period. No other act was terrorism. It’s an interesting rationalization.

Apparently you answered my question before I even asked it 🙂

Alex:

That said, you whine and moan about the tactics ARA’s use yet continuously use similar tactics/or styles on the animals you abuse in the lab.

Actually, I worked at a contract testing lab and the animals were not treated half as badly as people like Camille want you to think.

They certainly weren’t terrorized. See, something you might not know is that harming the animals can ruin your test results. So if you prefer to believe that all the people who work in such labs are evil torturers [they aren’t], you can at least be assured that they have selfish motivations for not abusing the animals.

Where I worked, even yelling at an animal would get you fired, no questions asked. You’d just be walked out the door.

I work with animals for my research and the same thing applies. We have strict rules on how they can be treated. they are not allowed to be stressed in any way that we have control over as that can cause problems (they won’t breed, data is unreliable, ect…) it actually behooves researchers to treat their animals well. Of course idiots like Alex can’t/won’t understand this because, like other zealots, it doesn’t fit into their little models of how the world works.

Animal rights activists: proving the old adage that the one with the morals is worse than the one without them.

When you’ve got morals, you can exnominate every evil deed done for those morals, it seems.

“Sure, I bugged telephones, but they were liberal pacifist telephones!”

“It’s not terrorism. I’m white, he was a cell biologist and he was eating a hot dog! The bastard!”

“Sure I had a rifle with me, but I was yelling at people outside an abortion clinic! It’s all cool, officer!”

Morals disgust me. Somebody should ban them. I proposed this in a moral issues class, and I got a 40% final grade. Vindicated!

Whether the research requires the animals be treated well or not, the law in the U.S. is very strict that they must be treated well. A whole university’s research can be shut down if any lab violates this.

Whether the research requires the animals be treated well or not, the law in the U.S. is very strict that they must be treated well. A whole university’s research can be shut down if any lab violates this.

Wouldn’t mistreating the lab animals bias the results? When you get down to it, “good” is really nothing more than a form of enlightened self-interest.

When PZ first posted about this, the rhetoric in question looked fairly isolated; and I had a small suspicion that it may have been planted by outsiders as a means of nudging the AR movement into marginalizing itself. It’s an old COINTELPRO tactic, so it should not be ruled out, at least not too quickly.

Having read Orac’s more extensive coverage of the overall behavior of AR activists, however, I’m inclined to think this latest rhetoric is genuine. Either that, or the COINTELPRO marginalization tactic worked better than anyone anticipated.

AS for how to respond to all this, what about expulsion from the college? IF hounding and bullying students, and deliberately interfering with academic work, doesn’t merit expulsion, then what the frack does?

@Poodle Stomper #22

Yes, I got hungry, and loled.

If we aren’t supposed to eat meat, then why is it so tasty?

I hear a grilled Filet Mignon calling me.

Mmmmmmm…..meat *drools*

Apparently, Ms. Marino’s great compassion for the suffering of animals doesn’t extend to that of children -if they happen to have the *wrong* parent- or to students who have the “wrong” outlook.

While considering the appalling vitriol flung at advocates of SBM by HIV/AIDS denialists, anti-vaxxers, and other proponents of alt med ( esp.”buyers” rather than “sellers”), I always try to remember – and it can be *hard*- that we’re dealing with _suffering_ people. Most die-hards come to woo because of a *diagnosis*- they’re HIV+, or they have cancer, or their child has an ASD, and a *long* road ahead, fraught with danger. It’s shocking to them – they may have poor coping skills, little or no counselling, a particular personality style. They are offered a panacaea or alternate reality that doesn’t seem to *hurt* as much as that of SBM… in the short run at any rate.

These people use the escapism of woo to “relieve” their own psychological pain: worry, fear,uncertainty, endless speculation, sleepless nights, panic. The question, “What will be?” can encircle your waking mind space like a noose. Fear can induce paralysis: woo-meisters step into this emotional maelstrom and sell their wares, be they “answers”, potions, or psychological analgesics. I try to have empathy for the victim of the both condition and the charlatan.

I don’t know what sets off the animal rights activists or violence-inciters in the first place other than a largely imagined mental image of animals’ suffering rather than their own. I can’t understand how they can cold-heartedly interfere with a young woman’s life because she disagrees with them. Are animals idealised to be more worthy or “pure” than a scientist’s child or a biology student? Threats of violence take us to a whole other realm: that of socio-pathology and criminality.

Thank you Leni, for both of your comments, very nice analysis, and a great reply to the ARA.

I hope Alena, or someone who knows her reads this. Whether your words to the terrorists were true or not, do not be ashamed! Decide what’s right for you, and work towards your goal.

I remember an incident some years back when self-proclaimed animal rights activists removed the animals from a veterinary science lab – that’s right, a lab dedicated to improving the health of animals. Then there was the release of minks from a British farm that resulted in massive wildlife destruction and a landscape littered with dead minks. Greater stupidity in the name of a cause might be harder to find.
I also support the challenge that anyone who feels so strongly about animal experimentation should forgo any medical care based on it (This includes most of modern trauma surgery.).
But what bothers me most is their gleeful descriptions of what incurring their anger will bring down. Theirs is a seriously disturbed and disturbing love of violence, terror and murder that tells me that those who engage in it don’t love animals so much as they hate humanity and will seize on any excuse to terrorize and harm other humans.

As a reminder to those who probably have not spent a lot of time among those who have strong animal welfare/AR beliefs, the vast, vast majority of people who even are against animal testing out there condemn these kinds of people. I was a member of one of the largest vegetarian/animal welfare/AR forums for about 7 years, and a moderator for about 2-3 years. Anyone who spewed this kind of stuff was quickly run out by other members, and any violent rhetoric was deleted by moderators and those members given a warning or banned. I also have spent much time socializing with people who care about animals through veggie meetups and activism. I have yet to meet anyone who condones this sort of thing.

So for the sake of intellectual honesty, I think “AR extremist” is the proper terminology for these types. It may sound petty, but there are people out there who are simply trying to stop puppy mills or other obvious animal abuse that any non-sociopathic person would abhor, and they get lumped into the same pile with these ***holes and thus not taken seriously.

BlackCat: animals in labs are certainly better treated than animals in the wild. And they’re no less “free” either. Failure to understand or appreciate this is one of the most fundamental flaws in the ARAs’ moral “reasoning.”

The AR extremists posting on Pharyngula think that setting fire to a building with no-one in it is A-OK.

They must think no firefighter ever got lost and ran out of air, or had a wall fall on them or got caught in a flash-over (where the heat of the fire causes combustible gases to build up to the point where everything ignites).

NIO may be right that students make easier targets for intimidation, but this course of action also has a much better chance of blowing up in their faces. An eager, bright eyed young student being threatened with violence will garner a lot of sympathy and media attention.
Think about all the media coverage of cyber bullying stories over the last few years, particularly those that ended in suicide or some other act of violence. Now imagine that the perpetrators were not a bunch of teenagers, kept anonymous by youth justice laws, but an organization of “adults” who openly and explicitly coordinated this harassment. If NIO continues with these tactics and someone gets hurt, they will be facing a serious shit storm. Between, the media, the feds, and the many non-animal rights vigilantes out there, the folks at NIO will be the ones hiding out.
Here’s hoping it doesn’t come to that.

…the vast, vast majority of people who even are against animal testing out there condemn these kinds of people.

What are you doing to STOP those kinds of people? IF those extremists are such a tiny minority, where is the sensible majority when teachers, researchers and students are targeted by concerted bullying campaigns like this one? How many of you have tried to make contact with victims like Alena and tried to give her support against the extremists?

We’ve all seen the extremists’ capacity for concerted action. When and where will we see the “moderate elements'” capacity for a concerted and effective response to mitigate the extremists’ actions? We’re waiting…

Leni:

Where I worked, even yelling at an animal would get you fired, no questions asked. You’d just be walked out the door.

Sorry, I missed your comment, but it makes sense. Most animals can be pretty sensitive to that, and even that could skew results. I have a friend with a niece who works with lab rats in a psychology lab, where they’re studying the process of learning, such as teaching them how to play video games. (Seriously!) You’d definitely need to treat the rats well to get results, abusing them could be disastrous.

So for the sake of intellectual honesty, I think “AR extremist” is the proper terminology for these types. It may sound petty, but there are people out there who are simply trying to stop puppy mills or other obvious animal abuse that any non-sociopathic person would abhor, and they get lumped into the same pile with these ***holes and thus not taken seriously.

Quite frankly, I do not see AR sympathizers or activists clearly dissociating themselves from these terrorists particularly strongly. In all fairness, perhaps I simply haven’t been looking hard enough or am not exposed to the proper AR groups. On the other hand when I write about these things I do do some rather extensive Googling, Binging, and Yahoo!ing, and I’m hard pressed to find AR activists strongly denouncing the tactics of people like Camille. What I do find is a lot of weaselly statements of the “I can understand their anger although I can’t condone their threats” kind of nonsense.

Hmmm. Maybe the sane AR activists are intimidated by these nutjobs too.

Raging Bee, your last comment sounds like the people who are asking why the moderate Muslims in the US aren’t educating all other Muslims in Islamic countries on how to treat Christians…

Given what we now know about brain function, personality and decision-making the fact is that the behavior of these people has nothing to do with a concern for animals. The animal “rights” part is just an excuse for a particular type of disturbed individual to rationalize an excuse to commit violence and give “meaning” to their pathetic lives.

Kirsi: the moderate Muslims have been answering the call for years. Now it’s the “moderate” ARAs’ turn…

What I do find is a lot of weaselly statements of the “I can understand their anger although I can’t condone their threats” kind of nonsense.

Yeah, they excuse extreme tactics after insisting they don’t condone them. (Although, to be fair, G’s language @36 above is the strongest condemnation of AR extremism I’ve yeat heard from the AR camp. Not that that’s saying a lot.)

What vile sickos. Like someone pointed out above, why are the worse offenders often driven by moral zealousness? If your morality dictates you be exceptionally horrible to someone, you’re probably wrong. Have a cup of tea and a biscuit instead.

I really hope this student is OK, and the University is being fully supportive of her.

@ Raging Bee:”Although, to be fair, G’s language @36 above is the strongest condemnation of AR extremism I’ve yeat heard from the AR camp. Not that that’s saying a lot.”

If their idea of “condemning” is erasing their comments and not letting them express their views at events, I think that says a lot about their mind-set. That isn’t condemnation in any sense of the word I have ever heard of.

The so called “moderate AR” position does exist, but they don’t even register as “AR” because the “moderate” position is that of Animal Welfare.

What I do find is a lot of weaselly statements of the “I can understand their anger although I can’t condone their threats” kind of nonsense.

Exactly.

You also see lots of credulous parroting of the fundamentalist AR extremist lies- that animal use is unregulated, that the subjects are “tortured”, that animal-based research is meaningless, that the evil scientists refuse to use “alternatives” out of…malice?, etc. Also a lot of hypocritical parsing of personal lifestyle choices and personal use of medical care that relies on animal-based research science.

Even in the face of patient explanations of the facts, such as are provided on Scienceblogs, Speaking of Research but also in many other media and on-the-ground venues.

People who persist in their “moderate” support of AR motivations in the face of this are a part and parcel of the violent terrorist movement to bypass the political process which they are losing (for good reason, they are just plain wrong on the facts) with intimidation.

If you don’t want to be associated with these fringe elements, there is a simple solution. Stop associating yourself with them!

OlRockinDave…

I remember an incident some years back when self-proclaimed animal rights activists removed the animals from a veterinary science lab – that’s right, a lab dedicated to improving the health of animals. Then there was the release of minks from a British farm that resulted in massive wildlife destruction and a landscape littered with dead minks.

Your comment reminded me of the story in the Onion where the animal rights activists let all the cows go free.

They were found 1 mile down the road grazing in the ditch on the side of the road, rounded up, and brought back.

And for some reason, I have Far Side in my head, but that is just because that’s what I think of when I think of cows

The so called “moderate AR” position does exist, but they don’t even register as “AR” because the “moderate” position is that of Animal Welfare.

I totally agree. It’s uselss to think about animal “rights,” when they’re not sentient enough to exercise rights or fulfill obligations, and have zero power to make cognizant choices in their daily lives. I tend to think in terms of human obligations instead: we’re the master species, we have near-total control over all other life-forms, therefore we have obligations to preserve and protect other species, and at least keep them from going extinct. Protect the environment, make every animal experiment count, no unnecessary cruelty, that sort of thing.

The concept of “rights” for non-sentient species is completely divorced from reality. Which could well be why it is so attractive to people who are also completely (and bitterly) divorced from reality.

Back when I was an undergrad at UWO (London, Canada) ARA’s broke into a lab, “liberated” a number of animals and destroyed several years of research data in file cabinets (IIRC). The campus was polarized by the actions of the ARA’s who had also used the lesser tactic of hunger strikes before resorting to break-and-enter and vandalism.

I made a small fortune (or what appeared as one to a poor student at the time) by printing and selling buttons on campus that said, “Save a baboon, Experiment on a Hunger Striker!”

The so called “moderate AR” position does exist, but they don’t even register as “AR” because the “moderate” position is that of Animal Welfare.

Indeed. And I hasten to point out, again, that the vast majority of IACUC officers, Animal Use policy makers, and clinicians/scientists who use animals in their research, could accurately be described as proponents of Animal Welfare.

@Pablo

That’s funny, I also had a comic strip-related association with that comment, but mine is from Bloom County. IIRC, Opus the penguin was freed from the Mary Kay lab by animal rights extremists and stashed in his “natural habitat,” aka the ice bin in front of the 7-11.

@David Lovaas’ work has saved my son. My son was a nonverbal autistic who did nothing but stim off of his hands all day. The beloved teacch method did nothing for him. Intensive aba has taught him to not only speak, but also has taught him to interact with people, follow directions, play with toys, maintain joint attention for long periods of time, eat with a fork and spoon, and interact with his environment. I finally have some hope for him. Plus, the scientific research has shown Lovaas’ methods to be the only methods proven to help autistic children gain functioning. I know it is not warm and fuzzy, but it works I’ll take that over warm and fuzzy educational placebos anyday.

We all know (well the EDUCATED ones) that animal testing = more drugs thrown down the pan than drugs being successful on humans, and not all diseases have been ‘cured’ by animal testing. So what the student said was absolute nonsense.

Perhaps I’ll start an organization to protest the over-the-top abuse of so many strawmen in which Alex engaged above. Didn’t Mommy or Daddy ever tell Alex that lighting so many on fire at one time can burn the whole house down?

Your comment reminded me of the story in the Onion where the animal rights activists let all the cows go free.

They were found 1 mile down the road grazing in the ditch on the side of the road, rounded up, and brought back.

Cows with guns

Well timed. Driving home with my son from setting up his science fair just yesterday, I asked him if he had any ideas on what he wanted to do next year. He liked seeing one science fair that was about a pet mouse running through a maze.

We got into a discussion about the ethics of science, and what you are and aren’t allowed to do to animals (and humans). I emphasized that there are review boards that have to approve your study. I hope I didn’t scare him off.

If their idea of “condemning” is erasing their comments and not letting them express their views at events, I think that says a lot about their mind-set.

Why should they have to play hero? There are all sorts of viewpoints I hold that are also held by people that I don’t like, but I don’t spend all my time writing letters to the editor condemning them. Life is too short to deal with the a-holes all the time.

It’s uselss to think about animal “rights,” when they’re not sentient enough to exercise rights or fulfill obligations, and have zero power to make cognizant choices in their daily lives.

You realize this argument applies to infants, too, right? Sure, we don’t let newborns vote, just like we don’t let cows vote. But they still feel pain and discomfort. The amount of “rights” these beings have is surely less than that we give to adult sapient humans, but it’s also surely more than “complete property to be abuse or destroyed at will.”

Also, like others, I think these threats have a good chance of crossing the line. Someone should call the police, just in case they aren’t already aware.

as someone that has worked with some of these people recently, i can say that some of these groups do good work against abusive pet stores and animal shelters, and ghazal was a big part of stopping amerijet’s animal transportation trade this winter.

that said, things haven’t been so great lately, everyone just spouts violent rhetoric & preaches about abortion & chases away anyone that doesn’t immediately agree with them. i hope some of these activists can get back to what we’re supposed to be doing, performing a public service.

i don’t go to NIO much or know all the contributors. but yes, i strongly disagree with virtually everything camille does.

and would i get shouted down/deleted for disagreeing with them? absolutely.

thanks for covering this, tho, science blogs. you guys got a lot of good, smart people, and animal rights activists could learn a lot if they were involved in more rationale debates with gusy like you.

I support using animals for research. And my research often lead to the death of animals, mostly food animals. Where possible these animals were then consumed for food. But while I am retired now, I own a tree farm and wildlife area. And every day I see one or two rabbits or pheasant killed but also mice, worms and insects, rats, frogs, fish, and possum torn apart and eaten by the wildlife, wild cats(2), heron(3), owls(1-3), hawks(2), geese(20+), coyotes(4), buzzards(1-12), muskrat(5), crows, woodpeckers, and by my dog! If such a frenzy ever reached the lab they would declare a national terrorism alert. And although I could do without the dog’s and hawks’ daily attack on the rabbit population, without it my trees would stand no chance whatsoever!

Even if animal testing was not a complete waste of time and resources, leading to mostly wrong information causing unnecessary human deaths, it would still be unconscionable. The animals we humans so cruelly and arrogantly exploit have as much right to lead their lives in their natural habitat as does any human. There are other research modalities which give better information more cheaply. Given the present sorry state of medical research, completely banning animal testing for ethical reasons would lead to an explosion of creativity which could revolutionize modern medicine.

Most of you are completely misinterpreting what Camille Marino said. It is certainly gratifying to see all of you defenders of horrific abuse frothing at the mouth and falling over each other to post your illogical, ignorant and largely irrelevant, self-serving drivel. Camille is a hero for the animals and her ability to agitate the mindless zombies who defend the immoral and broken status quo is unmatched. I hope she continues to pull the strings of the heartless, mindless puppets amongst you.

“Wesley Hanna”
A someone said, if that were true they wouldn’t need to threaten them.

Secondly there is another response: attack the evidence. Some evidence of abuse is made up. For instance: the charge that experimenters do not use anesthesia is utterly false, it is often required, yet the activists still repeat it.

Thirdly, everything you say also applies to the activists: They need funding, living off of donations, and therefore need to keep up the rhetoric, keep up the attacks, make things seem worse than they are. Someone whose livelihood and also entire worldview depends on things being one way, cannot admit they might be different.

Also, you might as well turn your point around on the activists: they are naive kids, and don’t know how the world works. Just like the anti-vaccine loons who never lived through polio and measles epidemics and don’t think it’s a big deal. These kids don’t live in a world without medicine, and are not old enough to have many friends with debilitating medical problems who were saved or have livable lives because of medicine.

Veganron :

how could we possible ever leave animals alone to live in their natural habitat?
1. farming kills animals, even organic sustainable environmentally friendly, even if you have a special picker that has rubber fingers on the end to shoo mice away (yes those exist) animals still get killed

2. predators don’t exist. In Chicago we have people shoot deer to keep the population down. we Have to do this, if we don’t, the deer eat everything, and that will kill off trees, kill birds, wreak havoc on the ecosystem. It is hard enough on humans to repatriate wolves in the plains states. No one is going to repatriate wolves and cougars in a city.

3. There is a difference between individual animals and the welfare of the animal species. As I point out above, if you try to treat individual animals as though they have rights, you are guaranteed to start killing off species. We have enough trouble trying to keep species from dying out, without making it harder. Animal Rights activists usually respond with the death of species as “just nature at work” and shrug their shoulders. However, most other environmental activists do not feel this way. And the widespread destruction large herbivores could wreak would have untold consequences to human life let alone everything else’s.

4. No animal lives in harmony with nature. Any animal smart enough to change its environment deliberately does so. From beavers to monkeys, animals will also non-deliberately change their environment. The only thing stopping them is predation. Without killing animals, they will starve and die and eat other animals food.

5. Just like animals, no indigenous people live in “harmony” with nature. Native Americans practiced controlled burnings throughout the NorthEast, which is why there was so much oak, because the Indians burned and killed Maple. Without that, the Maple kills off the Oak trees and takes over. I don’t see people condemning indians for this but instead praising them. Let’s not even get into them running herds of Buffalo off of cliffs and eating only the good parts.

Animal rights is a recipe for environmental destruction. It’s not even about medicine, it’s about feeding the planet. Feeding both Humans and animals.

@Veganron

Umm…how does one interpret the following in a positive, non-terroristic way:

We need to impart a new vision: car bombs, 24/7 security cameras, embarrassing home demonstrations, threats, injuries, and fear. And, of course, these students need to realize that any personal risk they are willing to assume will also be visited upon their parents, children, and nearest & dearest loved ones.

And even the best-designed artificial systems are no match for the variety that nature presents. We can think of a hundred ways to simulate, say, a surgery or particular drug, but nature will come up with a hundred other things we never envisioned. Even the best surgeon, trained on a simulaide, will be worse off for never having been trained on a living creature (human or non-human) and will, thereby, put his or her patients at increased and needless risk.

If their idea of “condemning” is erasing their comments and not letting them express their views at events, I think that says a lot about their mind-set.

Why should they have to play hero? There are all sorts of viewpoints I hold that are also held by people that I don’t like, but I don’t spend all my time writing letters to the editor condemning them. Life is too short to deal with the a-holes all the time.

The commenter I was responding to wasn’t just some casual proponent of animal rights, he/she ran multiple conferences and an online forum dedicated to the cause. He/she is obviously able to dedicate a considerable amount of time to the cause. And he/she has apparently had multiple of instances of people at conferences and at the forum advocating such behavior. Yet he/she doesn’t have enough time to put out a press release explicitly denouncing such acts? Sorry, not buying it.

I’m 26, I wanted to become a scientist at one point (primarily interested in becoming a geneticist) but I’m grateful I didn’t.
Why? I’d hate to have to numb my gradually acquired compassion for animals. I mean, I always loved them, but now that I worked with them more, I see their innocence in the same light I see a child’s.
They have feelings, emotions, breath.
Do unto others as you’d like them to do to you.
Would you like it if you had a painful solution spewed into your eyes for things such as trivial as cosmetics?

If I carried through with that ambition, I would’ve also focused on the argument, “It’s for a greater good” instead of, “Let’s find an alternatives!”

I would’ve invested so much time and money in doing so.
I’d have to convince myself that cruelty to living things was ok…

Find alternatives to research, synthetics maybe?
Seek both sides of the story instead of dismissing people with contrasting opinions as loonies.

There are other research modalities which give better information more cheaply.

Such as…?

I keep seeing this claim repeated, but no one ever seems to say what these methods are.

@vayle

“Find alternatives to research, synthetics maybe?”

Do you even know what you’re saying or are you just picking random words from “stock animal rights activist critiques” and stringing them together for us?

Also, consider what a “false dichotomy” is and then, with that knowledge in hand, reread what you wrote @67 and consider why we just dismiss people with contrasting opinions.

I’d hate to have to numb my gradually acquired compassion for animals. I mean, I always loved them, but now that I worked with them more, I see their innocence in the same light I see a child’s. They have feelings, emotions, breath.

What about animals fending for themselves in the wild, trying to feed their young and avoid being dinner for a larger animal’s young? What’s your take on their feelings and emotions?

There are other research modalities which give better information more cheaply.

Name one such method and show that it gives better information more cheaply and for what application. Certainly, when I hear AR activists make this claim regarding biomedical research, I have to laugh, because such claims make it clear that they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Given the present sorry state of medical research, completely banning animal testing for ethical reasons would lead to an explosion of creativity which could revolutionize modern medicine.

I keep hearing this claim from every animal rights sympathizer from Ray Greek to you but have yet to see any of you provide convincing evidence that there exist these magical mystical other scientific methods that would “provide better data cheaper” or show convincingly that abandoning animal models would “lead to an explosion of creativity.” Maybe you’re different and can do it, but I highly doubt it.

So, Vayle, not being a scientist has freed you to create alternatives to animal research?

Please, publish those new techniques. You’ll make a lot of people happy.

Or does your alternative consist of “do nothing, and abandon all medical and veterinary research and training that uses animals”?

@ Vayle: Why are you posting this here again instead of addressing the dozens of responses you already received when you posted pretty much the exact same thing on Pharungula? Are you just spamming any blog that discusses the subject?

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