Not All In It Together

In February of this year I got into an argument on the SR blog comments section about whether we should be taking an all or nothing approach to animal use. If we wanted to best support the use of animals in biomedical research, should we also be defending eating animals, hunting animals, cosmetic testing, fur farming, etc.

“I’ve been working to get people to understand that if they want their pet dogs, gerbils, monkeys, foxes, lions, or whatever, they had better be on the side of medical researchers, hunters including “canned” hunters, fur farmers, and all animal users”

I imagine that different readers of our blog will have diverse views on some of these things. Living in the UK there is not much of a culture of hunting (and can be seen as a pastime of the rich elite). Fox-hunting was banned in 2004, and other forms of hunting are banned or heavily regulated. I am also fully in support of the UK’s 1998 ban on cosmetic testing – I do not believe the harm to animals outweighs the benefits in this situation. On the other hand I eat meat, and do not feel morally in the wrong to do so (though I would say that medical research on animals has a stronger justification). I also believe that animal welfare should remain a priority in the food industry. In short, support some forms of animal use and not others.

So what was our commenter’s reasoning for his ‘all for one and one for all’ argument.

All that happens with that attitude is that they take us apart piece by piece. I am very much for cosmetics testing and fox hunting because if I give them the power to take those away, they have already come and taken away dog breeding and pet ownership.

This slippery slope argument makes no sense if you have reasons for supporting one activity and not the other. If you think there might be some logic in the above sentence, then consider this argument instead: “I am for bear baiting and dog fighting, because if I allow that to be taken away, they’ll ban owning pets”.

While it would be hard to ban pet ownership before banning animal research or hunting (or indeed bear-baiting; which is now banned), this is not an argument for keeping it. In other words, we should keep animal research because it is vitally important to medicine, NOT because it ensures pet ownership stays off the animal rights hit list.

The argument continued.

You’ve also given hunters, dog breeders, and exotic animal owners much less reason to support you and they will end up giving the extremists the power to take you out. Everyone must support everyone.

They should support animal research because it may one day save their life, or the lives of those around them, not to save their own cause.

In the US, Great Ape research has been at the forefront of the scientific debate. Now personally, I’m not convinced of the arguments in favour of great ape research (aside from research aimed at conserving great apes from disease like Ebola) and I live in a country which has banned it (since 1986). Nonetheless, there are two types of arguments being had about Great Ape research. The first is a legitimate and important debate about whether  Great Apes are necessary research subjects, and whether the suffering caused is justified by medical advances that could not come any other way. The second is a meaningless (and thankfully much less used) argument that says “if they ban Great Ape research then later they’ll ban research on lower primates – which are really important to research”.  I’m afraid this second argument just doesn’t hold water.

Some Philosophy

I start by using a model used previously by Dario Ringach on another SR post. On the far left we have the Cartesian view that animals are automaton who cannot feel pain in any way, at the other end we have absolute animal rights whereby animals have right to land and liberty – so at its absolute limit you couldn’t displace a worm to build a house.

animal welfare model of animal research

Now let’s modify it slightly by cutting off the ends.

animal welfare model of animal research 1.5

You don’t have to travel far from the Cartesian view before the idea that an animal has no more moral importance than a brick doesn’t hold true. So we have a cut off there; to the left is the do-what-you-want-to-animals zone; and to the right is the balance-suffering-and-benefit zone. So everything to the right of that split allows the idea that animals have a level of moral consideration (more consideration as you move rightwards). On the right hand side, we have a cut off further away from the end. Everything cut off on the animal rights side fundamentally says you cannot use an animal for the benefit of a human. There is still some gradation of views between “leave-the-animal-completely-alone” to “carry-out-tests-on-an-animal-to-save-that-specific-animal” (obviously this is without consent, thus why it is further away from pure animal rights views).

Between the two splits is a region where animal research is permissible in principle, but would need some level of cost-benefit analysis before it could be carried out.

Let us look a bit deeper.

animal welfare model of animal research 2

Now the whole area marked by the no-entry sign is what Dario described as the “forbidden zone”. We know animals can suffer and so cutting open monkeys without anaesthetic is clearly a no-no. Similarly using ten thousand monkeys to make another common cold remedy is a no-no – the moral balance doesn’t make sense. Similarly bear baiting is clearly in this forbidden zone since it treats animals as having minimal moral worth.

Most researchers’ views will be in the blue arrow region. At one end some would agree you could do invasive and potentially painful surgery on many animals for some small human benefit (e.g. new indigestion treatment). At the other end would suggest that, perhaps, only a few mice could be used, if no pain was expected, in order to find a cure of cancer.

In truth, regulations probably mean that what some researchers and members of the public would find acceptable (the far left of the blue arrow) is not allowed. For example, in the UK, cosmetic testing would probably come at the far end of the blue arrow (so some people find it acceptable, others do not) yet regulations do not permit it. The same might be said for fox hunting. Food production’s position on the line would depend on the animal welfare considerations it was done under.

The green arrow would be the views of an animal rights advocate. Few exist right at the far right end (where, say, you couldn’t take a medicine to kill a tapeworm), but few will cross the gap into suggesting that we have a right to use animals in testing (and those that do probably shouldn’t be considered animal rights activists).

What can clearly be seen is that there is no “middle ground” where both sides generally agree. No matter how many improvements are made in animal welfare, they will never agree to animal research, or eating meat.

As someone who supports animal welfare and animal research we are not all in it together. I am not “in it” with those who care little for animal welfare. Neither am I “in it” with those who believe animals have rights.

Tom Holder

36 responses to “Not All In It Together

  1. I’m unclear on what those to the far right of the green arrow think about a predators right to predate. I eat very little meat (less than 50g a week) but accept some meat eating as part of evolutionarily being an omnivore. Isn’t animal research just very sophisticated predation? Arguably even more important than eating animals. I’m also pretty cold on the pet ownership thing, i like dogs and cats bit feel theyre being bred and kept for very little reason.

  2. Hi! First post on SR!
    I get drawn into those debates all the time, and I relate strongly to the concerns of the commenter you referred to. Since the AR movement is achieving its aims by increments, I fear every single step forward for them is a step backward for those of us who use, own and eat animals in a legal and morally appropriate way.

    That is the point that I think you and the commenter might find agreement. Bear baiting and dog fighting are illegal, cosmetic testing, fur farms and hunting are not.

    Cosmetic testing is done to prevent a harmful product being sold: it must be done in strict accordance with the animal welfare laws: I am happy that it is being phased out though. I don’t like fur farms, but they are legal, and I know most keep the animals in comfortable conditions, and kill them using humane methods. I despise ‘trophy hunting’, but some hunting is essential to protect habitat and threatened species, and often to put food on the table. Done responsibly and respectfully, it is not morally wrong.

    I think we need to be 100% united against those who would take our legal rights away from us, and I think that is what the commenter was trying to say.

    • There was a time when bear baiting was legal – should the people then have said “let’s be united with the people to use animals for food in order to prevent them being the next target. Those farmers should therefore support bear-baiting”?

      • I am surprised you are allowed to post on this site Tom!
        I fully agree with your post and reply. Similarly, since shark finning is legal, we should protect it?

  3. First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
    Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
    Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.
    Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
    (no doubt misquoted but accredited to Martin Niemoller.)

    When bear baiting was legal (though never morally appropriate) those who lobbied for it to be made illegal did not do so to force their ideology/eating disorder on the world. They did it for sound, moral reasons.

    Hunting is legal; there are many people who declare it cruel and morally inappropriate and are lobbying to have it banned. You might say, fine – I don’t like hunting – but medical testing is next on the list. And then animal agriculture and so on. The motives for having hunting banned are not about animal welfare and compassion, but towards an agenda that will harm all of us, including you.

    I’m not saying that you need to loudly proclaim your support of any animal industry you are not comfortable with. You need to exert every bit of energy you have to support the industry you have the most knowledge about, because that is where you will be the most effective. But you must also appreciate that others are just as desperate to protect their industry. It’s a lot harder to hold on to our legal rights if we are fragmented, insular and unsupportive of others who are on the AR hit list with us.

    • I don’t think the reference to the Holocaust is remotely valid analogy. Every attack on those social groups by the Nazi regime was morally wrong.The speaker in your quote should not have acted to defend the communists because he was concerned for himself, he should have defended the communist because it was morally wrong to take them away in the first place. On the other hand it was not morally wrong to “take away” bear baiting.

      Now we will agree that we should all loudly reject extremism. I condemn extremism against fox hunters, even if I do not agree with foxhunting. I also agree that many animal rights groups do have an incremental agenda towards attaining animal rights i.e. ban A, then ban B, then C.

      But if I disagree with A, I’m not going to defend it just because I’m concerned that someday they’ll come against C (which I happen to agree with).

  4. Animal use industries need to unite because divided you fall. This is called solidarity. You may not agree with hunting, fishing, animal farming, animal companionship, animal displays, animal slaughter, animal research, animal transport or whatever animal use but in the end it is the people that decide by voting. Our future is not decided by a mobilized minority, polls or petitions and my vote goes to those that help feed, cure, dress, entertain us.

  5. Juan Carlos Marvizon

    I fully agree With Lynda Hynes. I was thinking in posting along the same lines, but it’s hard to improve on her argument.

    We are in a propaganda war – often flaring into a real, violent war in which people’s lives are threatened. The enemy has no compunction about twisting facts and lying. We should deny them any victory.

    • So we should twist facts by glossing over all uses of animals, moral or otherwise? I think there are other uses of animals which are moral, but I don’t think we should be blanket defending all uses because we’re worried that the AR groups might take it as a victory.

      • Very good point. And by defending things that you don’t agree with just to try and prevent an incremental victory resulting in more rights to animals will make it difficult to be seen as a moral and ethical person trying to defend what you see as morally correct. You will have to try and justify things that you cannot justify, weakening your arguments to justify those things you actually do believe in.

        I think people like Linda and Juan that clearly have no moral compass and just said that they will blindly stand by and watch horrible unethical behaviour just to be able to eat their steak is actually very detrimental to your cause.

  6. Tom, I think you are twisting my words.

    I said that all of us should support the rights of “those of us who use, own and eat animals in a LEGAL and MORALLY APPROPRIATE way.

    We should support the legal rights of every person in the world, and fight if necessary when those rights are threatened. If our rights are threatened, our survival may depend on others fighting for us. That’s what the poem was about – it wasn’t a reference to the holocaust at all: it was saying how we must defend the legal rights of others, even if we do not share their religion, politics or lifestyle.

    You are saying that you shouldn’t have to defend the legal rights of others if they are doing something you consider morally inappropriate. Well, thanks to the AR movement, a growing number of the public believe that using animals in research is morally inappropriate, unnecessary and cruel. A huge number of people now believe that all hunting, circuses and zoos are morally inappropriate, and would like to see them made illegal. But the core of the AR agenda is to convince the public that all animal agriculture is inhumane, unsustainable and morally reprehensible.

    I will not passively sit by and watch a group of insane intellectual control freaks impose their eating disorder on the world – and that is exactly what they are doing. I will fight for my right to own pets; eat fish, eggs, dairy and meat and wear wool and leather – even fur if it does not conflict with my personal ethics – but I can’t fight them alone. We ARE in this together, Tom, and if you won’t fight for my legal rights, you have a bit of a cheek expecting me to fight for yours.

  7. Legal is a reflection of what is morally appropriate, and what is morally appropriate isn’t a static concept. Even within animal research, what is deemed right and moral within animal research has changed over the years. I don’t think that is a bad thing. Much of it has to do with our greater understanding of the capabilities and characteristics of other animals.

    The poem is most certainly about the Holocaust and the conduct of Nazi Germany. Nonetheless, while the rights we attack and defend should not be based on prejudice (religion, politics, lifestyle etc.), we do not have to defend all rights. I live in a country where I am not allowed firearms (without very strict regulation processes), I would not defend someone else’s right to have a gun.

    My point remains that provided I feel that it is moral to eat meat (which I do), provided it is produced in an ethical manner, then I will defend the rights of myself and others to eat it. NOT because I want to defend animal research, but because I feel eating meat can be done ethically. I would not defend something I believe is not moral (e.g. final product pure cosmetic testing, or hare coursing).

    I don’t expect you to fight for my legal right to animal research (I don’t have such a right) – I expect you to fight for the medicines which will benefit yourself and your loved ones.

  8. Hi Tom. We all know WHERE this poem came from, that doesn’t make it’s point any less valid. It was a warning written to the future, not simply an ode to the past. It is about divide and conquer. You can make sports hunting illegal, but not without making food hunting illegal as well. The rules of animal testing are being firmed up nicely, but are still being attacked because the AR goal is total animal apartheid, no testing, no livestock, no hunting, no breeding, no pets. At the most hallucinatory end there is harsh talk even about genetically modifying our predators to eliminate predation altogether. Just absolutely psychotic disconnects from natural systems that is getting greater currency as we urbanize to such an extreme that kids just grow up not knowing any better. They do not recognize that even herbivores eat other animals, because those herbivores don’t have fingers and thumbs with which to peel the lizards and bugs off. They don’t recognize the difference between hard science and junk science when looking at human dietary history and needs. They don’t see invasive species killing off native populations as a problem

    Perhaps if you could express a coherent coda, a basic outline of what you think is a ballanced guideline?

  9. I think a pretty good idea of what Lynda is talking about may be seen in the religious variations on humane slaughter. Right now, around the world, AR activists are getting those exceptions slammed shut on other religions. Quite aside from the whole attack on religions bit, this attack is not actually based on any kind of good research. These activists are simply making the statement that one type of slaughter is more humane than another, without anything stronger than rhetoric and imagery.

  10. “I expect you to fight for the medicines which will benefit yourself and your loved ones.” – Tom, April 23, 9:41 am

    No.

    We all have a tendency to be selfish, to only fight for what benefits us or our ‘loved ones’, but our freedom, security, full stomachs and good health – our very existence – is due to those who were selfless, who fought for the rights of strangers and future generations. I have benefitted from the suffragettes, the black civil rights activists, the soldiers of my country and those of other countries, anti-discrimination protesters, trade unionists – millions of people who fought for the legal, civil and human rights of others.

    Some people want power and control over others. They attack minorities on the fringes of social or moral acceptance because they know they will have little support from the majority. The majority are fed with propaganda (lies, faked evidence) to not only keep them out of the issue but gain their support. The minority group falls, and the public thinks it may not be such a bad thing. On to the next minority, and the next.

    Then YOU are in the minority being attacked. The monster is now huge -bloated from gorging on the rights and freedoms of others. The public now believe you are sadists in white coats who deserve to be punished. So you appeal to the selfishness of others?

    • You are right insofar as we should fight to defend rights we believe in. This is exactly the point. I don’t believe in, say, fox-hunting. I should not fight for it just because I worry about what will happen to my other beliefs.

      Let me run a parallel – should those who use animals for varying purposes have been against the civil rights movement on the grounds that after activists had won civil rights they would go for animal rights? NO!!

  11. Juan Carlos Marvizon

    Thank, Lynda and Pego, for writing such clear-minded statements. I think one of the main problems in the world right now is that so few are willing to fight for principles anymore. Arguments based on selfishness like the one Tom is making at the end lead nowhere, because they destroy the principle of solidarity that is the only road to success.

  12. Wow, these comments are extremely strange, some of the most incoherent I have seen on this site.
    You are saying that if you believe in animal testing because you believe it can be ethically justified in the case where it will result in saving human lives, you MUST also fight to protect shark finning, puppy mills, the eating of a monkey’s brains while it is still alive and any other form of animal exploitation, just because it will be cannon fodder for delaying animal rights activists to get to your cause that you actually believe in?
    This is mind-blowingly unethical, nonsensical and inhumane and I am glad everybody doesn’t think this way because then there would have been no progress in the world.
    Women would have no rights, there would still be slavery, child labour and human trafficing would be at the order of the day.

    You guys really take solidarity to the macarb extreme! And really you are the selfish ones that are not willing to give up some of your guilty pleasures for improving the well-being of other inhabitants of this planet.

    • Isadehaan, your reference to eating meat as “a guilty pleasure”, along with a few other AR ‘buzz words’, revealed your true identity as an animal rights activist. I do not believe you are here in support of animals in research, and pretending that you are negates your right to judge others for their “moral compass”.

      There is no connection whatsoever between animals in research and “shark finning, puppy mills, the eating of a monkey’s brains while it is still alive and any other form of animal exploitation”: only an AR activist would say so. It is a standard AR tactic to link responsible use of animals with “exploitation”, cruelty and abuse to manipulate the public towards veganism. And doing so, Isadehaan, is “mindblowingly unethical”.

      • If you look at my posts you will see that in no way am I trying to pretend that I am for animal research. Just because I agree with a statement made by somebody that IS supporting animal research does NOT mean I support all his views. But I guess from the comments on this post it is not too far fetched that there are people that think if somebody agrees with one statement somebody else makes they just MUST support everything they believe?
        Did you even read the other posts that I commented on? I specifically said that it is rediculous to group all of these “legal” activities together because that weakens your chances of being seen as a reasonable person supporting all these activities that you don’t believe in. I did not say I think all these topics should be grouped together, I said that the people commenting above (Lynda, Juan, Pego) said that it should be.
        I agree with you, if you believe in one thing you should not automatically have to support all other things that other people with that one belief in common supports.

      • I so agree, Lynda. Not sure where Isadehaan gets his information, but there is no relationship or connection (except in A/R extremists’ minds) between using animals for research and exploiting them in cruel and unnecessary ways for nothing but human “enjoyment”. Using an animal to gain knowledge in regards to medicines or medical procedures to save lives (both human and animal) or treating disease is far different than using them for what results in releasing “endorphins” that induce the feeling of “pleasure” in the brain. The former is necessary and is for the sole purpose of survival. The latter is for temporary “enjoyment”.

      • I think you may have missed the point here. I don’t think Isadehaan is linking those things – he is saying that if you take the approach of defending all animal use (re-read the original post) then why not ridiculous things like shark finning etc. which few agree with.

  13. That is called a logic fallacy, Tom

    • Please explain – It may be a while since university but I have actually studied philosophical logic.

      lsadehaan, like my original post, used logical extremes (reductio ad absurdum) as a basis to criticise. In short:

      Argument I criticise:
      “If you want to protect animal research you should defend (say) hunting as if activists win on that issue they will put more pressure on animal research and it may get banned”

      Strip down to the core of the argument:
      “If you want to protect animal research you should defend other uses of animals because if activists win, they will put more pressure on animal research and it may get banned”

      Now lsadehaan, like myself, simply note that if you put “bear baiting” or “shark finning” (lsadehaan’s example) as your animal use then you would likely disagree with the argument. So you do not like the logical extreme – your original argument is flawed.

      I would note that (based on his varying comments) lsadehaan and I differ wildly on our views of animal research – neither of us think that one should be necessarily committed to defending one animal use just to protect another.

  14. The flaw in your argument is that you are equating legal and ethical uses of animals with illegal and unethical uses of animals. You are not taking the argument to an extreme conclusion: you are deliberately equating it with repugnant practices that are not related to the issue in any way. This does not confirm your argument. Using your argument, one could state: ‘I do not support shark finning or bear baiting, therefore I do not support the use of animals in medical testing.’ That would be just as illogical.

    Eg.1: Some people like a glass of wine. Some people drink to excess. We should not support the drinking of wine because some people are obnoxious drunks.

    Eg.2: Most pharmaceuticals treats illness effectively, but some have had adverse affects and caused deaths. Therefore all pharmaceuticals are dangerous and should be banned.

    Eg.3: Slavery, the owning of and forced labor of another human is wrong and immoral. Therefore the owning of a cat or a dog is also slavery, and is wrong and immoral.

    • The first issue is that Shark finning is legal is many countries. Similarly bear baiting has been legal. So my question to you is if we went back 200 years when bear baiting was legal would you be using the same argument – that we can’t ban it because it would allow animal testing to be nearer the firing line?
      In the UK fox hunting is illegal – in the US it is not. So the UK has deemed it unethical, but the US has not. Should we defend fox hunting to protect animal research?
      Note that I am taking the arguments presented to their logical conclusion.

      Now your presentation of my argument is a straw man (which is a logical fallacy). My argument is clear – that the support for one use of animals should stand entirely on its own merit and not on its position to protect an alternative use. Your “I do not support shark finning or bear baiting, therefore I do not support the use of animals in medical testing” bears no similarity to this argument.

      Similarly none of your three examples are using logical extremes (reductio ad absurdum). They are simply badly formed arguments (but not using the same method I used above). Let me convert them into the same argument type used by YOU in your original argument. You’ll note none will be good arguments here:

      Example 1: If activists ban getting completely drunk on absinthe, then next they’ll be able to ban a glass of wine – so we should not allow a ban on absinthe. [Flaw: The arguments for banning absinthe would be different to those for banning wine, just as they are between banning bear baiting and animal research]

      Example 2: A new drug cures AIDS but gives you a cough. Another new drug cures AIDS but gives you cancer. We should not ban the cancer-giving drug because next they might ban the cough-giving drug. [Flaw: Once again, you can ban the worse thing - it does not necessitate banning the good one, just as banning bear baiting doesn't mean animal research will actually get banned next - they are two separate ethical arguments]

      Example 3: If activists ban slavery then next they’ll ban pet ownership. I think pet ownership is good so if I prevent them banning slavery I will be safer in my pet ownership. [Flaw: I hope this one is obvious. It is also the closest to the argument originally presented in my post which I argued against, just switch slavery with fox hunting and pet ownership with animal research]

  15. Shark is good eating, so is bluefin tuna, however the arguements against hunting for them are twofold, number one they have been over-fished and the practice is no longer sustainable. Secondly, finning a fish kills it, slowly, as well as wastes it. This is not like the practice of claw removal in crabs, where one is left for the crab to eat and defend itself while re-growing the other.

  16. Persecution is wrong. People tend to stand up against it ONLY when it affects them or their interests, and ignore the pleas for help from others being persecuted because they judge them as inferior.

    Persecution depends on lies and propaganda, to convince one group of people to dominate and/or destroy another group of people because they are inferior/evil/dangerous etc.

    When accurate information, changing attitudes and needs lead the public to disapprove of a practice, the democratic process is for the majority of the public – not one ideological lobby group – to direct their government to enact fair and just laws restricting or ending that practice. Speaking of Research exists because one ideological lobby group has deliberately misinformed the public through lies and propaganda, to manipulate them into lobbying their governments into enacting laws to have it banned. This is persecution, and it is wrong.

    It is equally wrong for this ideological lobby group to persecute other industries or practices involving animals. When you tacitly approve of persecution towards any group of people, you are guilty of aiding and abetting that persecution, and you are doing wrong.

    • I think we’re stretching persecution a little – certainly as we’re talking about a tiny minority of animal rights activists who might fit the barest concept of persecution of researchers. It’s a buzz word which sounds more dramatic than the truth of this situation (and I am fully aware of the extent of animal rights extremism in the past). Furthermore, persecution is the strong over the weak – I do not think the tiny number of activists constitutes “the strong”. Terrorism might be a better word to describe the actions of extremists, but not persecution.

      It is wrong for extremists to take illegal action against anyone engaged in animal practices. It is morally wrong to *knowingly* misrepresent the truth (I believe a lot of activists are unaware of their misrepresentations – they believe in it honestly). Moral opinion on things is not subject to easy “rights” or “wrongs”. If I believe X is moral, and Y is immoral, you can’t tell me I’m wrong (only inconsistent with other beliefs).

      I think, say, fox hunting is morally wrong. I am not persecuting anyone in this belief, nor am I abetting those who believe that they can use extremism to further such beliefs – because I would condemn illegal activity.

      …most of the flaws in what you wrote lie in the very casual (and I believe changing) meaning of persecution you use.

    • I would say that the way humans are currently exploiting animals (and nature in general) would be easier to classify as persecution than people who are fighting for the rights of animals. It is like saying the people that were against slavery were persecuting white slave owners. Or people that are against racism are persecuting racists.

  17. You are also narrowing the definition of “Persecution” in such a way as to let us all know you never had and annoying (but crafty) younger sibling :)

    “Persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another individual or group.” Using falsified data or propaganda films to convince large groups to harm others needs and rights certainly fits the bill.

  18. A near majority of the public share the opinion that using animals for scientific/medical research is morally wrong. Why? Because, mostly through the internet, they have read horror stories, seen videos and photographs of animals restrained, wired, implanted and obviously suffering terror if not agony. They put themselves in the position of the animal and feel overwhelming distress, and accept without question the claim that animal testing is not moral, necessary or even useful.

    But you know that the public are NOT accurately informed: they are MISinformed. They have been subjected to a ‘smear campaign’ of fabricated horror stories, old and foreign images – even staged videos – of barbaric abuse: a relentless, systematic program initiated by PeTA and promoted by several other animal rights group. This is persecution.

    The same tactics are applied to fox hunting – capitalising on the resentment towards the ‘upper class’. I don’t like fox hunting either, but that does not make me silent when a ‘smear campaign’ of misinformation targets any group to manipulate public opinion. Everyone should base their opinion on accurate, factual information, without anthropomorphising. Is what you ‘know’ about fox hunting accurate? Have you researched it and tested your hypothesis?

    Foxes are highly adaptable and fertile, making them a threat to many native species and causing considerable losses and suffering to young and small livestock. It’s sad to kill such a beautiful animal, but the population needs to be controlled (especially where I live). While a well-aimed bullet is the most humane way to kill a fox, objective evidence suggests death by a traditional fox hunt is more humane than gassing, baiting or trapping. The fox does not suffer any more than every animal it hunted and killed itself. The hunters do not go on shooting sprees shooting every animal in sight as is often asserted, nor do they torture the fox. They do not destroy the countryside – in fact, their influential status protects it from development.

    If an informed public decide that fox hunting is no longer morally acceptable, that is democratic and just and I personally would wholeheartedly support that decision. But if a misinformed public put pressure on the authorities to ban anything due to manipulation by an unscrupulous ideological minority, it is not democratic or just, and does not deserve support – or tacit approval – from anyone, whether they are future targets of similar persecution or not.

    • Polls in the UK and US show that 2/3 or more of the public support the use of animals in research.
      UK: http://speakingofresearch.com/2012/10/19/public-opinion-and-the-importance-of-transparency-in-the-uk/
      US: http://speakingofresearch.com/2011/07/11/putting-public-polls-in-perspective/

      It is worth noting that fox hunting in the UK tends to mean hunting with dogs (as opposed to shooting, or certain humane methods of trapping – both of which remain legal). I appreciate that fox hunting is often misrepresented, which is why I take information I read with a pinch of salt. Nonetheless, having looked at both sides, I do not support the ethics of fox hunting. I see it as sport over population control.
      I would not support gassing, poisoning or most methods of trapping (which are illegal in the UK).

      Nonetheless the point of this post wasn’t to say whether other uses of animal are ethical or unethical, but that their morality has nothing to do with the morality of animal research and each must be judged individually.

  19. I have to ask, since this keeps coming up, WHY is fox hunting wrong in your opinion? There was a reason that foxes were hunted, people had poultry and didn’t want to share, particularly since they often had to share already with the aristocratic landlords. These landlords then made a sport out of “eliminating the competition” as it were, to reduce predation on livestock. I have my own reasons not to care for the prctice, but I do not acally see many people give it any thought beyond the PETA propaganda

    • Fox populations can be controlled through humane trapping or careful culling by trained marksmen. Done in this way, it provides a relatively painless death for the animals.

      Fox hunting, as a sport involving dogs, involving chasing a fox through miles of countryside, causing huge stress to the animal. Dogs will often not kill a fox quickly and humanely, and shooting a fox on the run is more likely to result in injuring, rather than killing the animal. It is little more than a bloodsport as it does little to control fox populations.