Following the recent and successful UCLA panel on animal-based research, there has been much online discussion about the virtues of the event. Supporters of Pro Test for Science (PTS) have applauded the publishing of a joint PTS/Bruins for Animals (BFA) statement against the “harassment” and “intimidation” by some AR activists of animal researchers at their homes and on websites. For example, one of the PTS panelists, CSUSJ philosopher Janet Stemwedel, exclaims in a headline on her blog, “There are animal rights supporters who take a public stand against violence and intimidation.”
Additionally, we see similar commentary in this article in Science magazine.
AR activists can rightly accept praise and credit for encouraging the two sides to come together in what was an unprecedented public and civil dialogue. However, one glaring and rather twisted irony too often overlooked is the fact that those very same participants who speak against aggressive campaigns against the animal experimentation industry and who are quick to praise AR advocates’ stance on nonviolence are themselves engaged in (or are supporters of) violence and intimidation towards sentient beings on a daily basis.
Vivisection, industrialized meat production, fur production, and other such practices involve extreme violence and intimidation against animals. So, when headlines such as Stemwedel’s congratulate AR activists for “taking a public stand against violence and intimidation,” what the headline fails to address is the fact that a vast majority of AR supporters are against violence and intimidation of any kind, including (and most importantly) violence against and intimidation of innocents, including animals.
Make no mistake about it, vivisection is a form of violence, violence perpetrated against innocent sentient beings. Animals exploited in medical research fear for their lives and are denied all that is important and natural to them. These animals are terrorized in every sense of the term. Despite the fact that most animals used in laboratories are sentient and have rich, complex, emotional lives, many experiments involve the infliction of physical and emotional pain and harm upon them. When the reality of the situation is brought to light in this way so is the hypocrisy of those animal researchers who, on the one hand, congratulate animal activists who are against violence and intimidation, while on the other, participate in the violence and intimidation involved in animal experimentation practices.
To assert this point in no way denies or diminishes the fact that the recent UCLA event was important, fruitful and an extremely positive and informative discussion on the science and ethics of animal based research. The praise by PTS supporters of ecumenical dialogue and the admonishing of certain tactics should not go unnoticed, as we do appreciate the willingness for dialogue. However, as already stated, we find it perplexing that one would congratulate us for a position which they themselves do not hold in a consistent manner. Further, such praise should not be allowed to weaken or undermine the solidarity of AR activists, nor should we lose sight of our shared, fundamental goal, namely, animal liberation.
BFA appreciates, welcomes and looks forward to continued civil and constructive dialogue with PTS on this issue.
Kristy Anderson, Co-Founder, Bruins for Animals!
Ashley Smith, President, Bruins for Animals!
Jill Ryther, Esq., Advisor, Bruins for Animals!