Earlier this week, the animal rights extremist group at NegotiationisOver.com posted an email they received from Alena – an undergraduate student at Florida Atlantic University – in response to their attempts to solicit local activists to attend an animal rights event:
Actually, I’m an undergrad researcher aiming to work at Scripps [Research Institute]! 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.
First off, we applaud Alena for standing up for what she believes in and for expressing support for the humane use of animals in research aimed at addressing the health and welfare of humans and animals alike. Not surprisingly, however, NIO launched an offensive of degrading and hateful emotional abuse that caused Alena to plead for them to:
…please stop saying such horrible, untrue things about me. It’s hurtful.
In response, they no doubt ratcheted up the threats, causing Alena to:
…denounc[e] animal testing and my involvement in it…. I will be looking for other career choices.
Not unlike perpetrators of child and spouse abuse who use fear of further attacks to ensure silence in their victims, NIO hopes that flooding the email boxes of young people with obscenities and rabid missives will ensure that the voices of scientists of tomorrow are suppressed. Even for NIO, this is a new low, and Speaking of Research sharply condemns those who chose to act like shameless bullies when harassing, threatening and intimidating any student, researcher or faculty member.
Students are far more open to objective information and far more susceptible to applied persuasion tactics. The vested interests of industry-entrenched vivisectors lie in their bloody wallets and, truly, the only effective approaches to veteran abusers appear to be through incendiaries, intimidation, and violence. On the other hand, … students are far more malleable and easily manipulated.
What people who use fear and attacks to affect others forget is that, under threat, people will say almost anything, true or not. They may well get a statement or two like the one above, but overall, scientific research will continue and the vast majority of students will continue to feel safe and secure – especially when the scientific community rallies behind them to offer support.
What’s more, for each statement of capitulation they post to their website, there are countless other students who watch these events unfold and, in reaction, redouble their own commitment to science and to scientific advocacy.
Though NIO may refer to students as the “Soft bellied target of the vivisection complex” who “can be shut down with relative ease,” they should study their history. In the winter of 2005, the ALF launched a campaign that targeted students at Oxford University in the UK, declaring them to be “legitimate targets”. Did the students bow to the threats and arson attacks on their facilities? Not a chance! The students responded by launching the Pro-Test movement in support of animal research, and gave the ALF a drubbing which helped to turn the tide against AR extremism in the UK. The hate and lies of the ALF were simply no match for the solidarity shown by students and scientists at Oxford.
Similarly, the extremists at NIO may claim one victory, but they fail to see how much dedication they create at the exact same time.
At UCLA, faculty and students alike have been the target of a heinous and criminal campaign of violence and harassment. How many students have quit animal research and/or changed their careers? To our knowledge: none. Indeed, students at institutions like UCLA have become some of the most passionate and committed defenders of animal-based research.
At NIO, they see victories in stories like these. We say those victories are hollow and pathetic. If you share our view, leave a comment below showing support for Alena and other students like her. The scientists of tomorrow need to hear our voices.
Speaking of Research