Tag Archives: ucla

Understanding addiction: NIDA article highlights contribution of animal research

Professor David Jentsch is a highly respected UCLA neuroscientist who specialises in the study of addiction, one of the most widespread and serious medical problems in our society today. Sadly, by devoting his career to finding out how to better treat a condition that ruins – and all too often ends – many millions of lives in the USA and around the world every year, David has found himself, his colleagues, and his friends and neighbors under attack from animal rights extremists whose tactics have ranged from harassment, stalking and intimidation, to arson and violence.

Did this extremist campaign persuade David to abandon his research?

No chance!

In 2009 David responded to the extremist campaign against him and his colleagues by helping to found Pro-Test for Science to campaign for science and against animal rights extremism at UCLA, and has been a key contributor to Speaking of Research, writing articles on the role of animal studies in the development of new therapies for addiction, what his studies on rodents and vervet monkeys involve, and how addiction research can help us to understand obesity.

Vervet monkeys involved in David Jentsch's research program live in outdoor social groups to ensure optimal welfare

Vervet monkeys involved in David Jentsch’s research program live in outdoor social groups to ensure optimal welfare

This week the NIH’s National institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has published an excellent article on David’s ongoing research entitled  “Methamphetamine Alters Brain Structures, Impairs Mental Flexibility”, which highlights the importance of non-human primate research in identifying how addiction alters the brain and why some individuals are more prone to develop damaging methamphetamine dependency than others. You can read the article in full here.

Human chronic methamphetamine users have been shown to differ from nonusers in the same ways that the post-exposure monkeys differed from their pre-exposure selves. The researchers’ use of monkeys as study subjects enabled them to address a question that human studies cannot: Did the drug cause those differences, or were they present before the individuals initiated use of the drug? The study results strongly suggest that the drug is significantly, if not wholly, responsible”

This knowledge of how drug use disrupts brain function will be crucial to development effective clinical interventions for methamphetamine addiction, and the huge scale and devastating impact of methamphetamine use makes it clear that such interventions are desperately needed, as David highlights in the article’s conclusion.

Methamphetamine dependence is currently a problem with no good medical treatments, when you say a disease like methamphetamine dependence is costly, it’s not just costing money, but lives, productivity, happiness, and joy. Its impact bleeds through families and society.”

At a time when animal rights activists in many countries are pushing to ban addiction research involving animals, the NIDA article on the work of David and his colleagues shows why this work is so valuable, and just what would be lost if animal rights extremists are allowed to have their way.

Speaking of Research

To learn more about the role of animal research in advancing human and veterinary medicine, and the threat posed to this progress by the animal rights lobby, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

The Science and Medicine of “Progress for Science”

The animal rights group “Progress for Science” (P4S) made one more appearance last night to harass a UCLA professor at his home. Don’t let their name fool you.  The consequences of P4S’s advocacy are backwardness and regression.  To advocate for science you must be familiar with it;  to advocate for progress you must understand medical history.  But it does not take much digging to discover just how detached from facts and science their beliefs really are.  Take for example their views on vaccinations:

Amy Nicole

There is absolutely nothing progressive or pro-science about being anti-vaccination. Those who, despite the evidence, continue to advocate against childhood vaccinations are nothing short of a public health hazard who have directly contributed to a rise in avoidable disease and death in our state and elsewhere.  Such groups are not pro-science.  Instead, they have the features of a cult.  

Another commonly held view among animal rights activists is that one’s diet is the source of all maladies and that a vegan diet is an effective remedy to many of them. There is no doubt that science supports the view that eating a good, balanced diet and getting a daily dose of physical exercise are integral components to a healthy life.  But disease, it turns out, can strike at any point in time, in ways you cannot anticipate or prevent.

So what happens when a healthy, young vegan gets sick with… say gallbladder stones?  Do they immediately reach for the oregano oil or yerba santa?  Perhaps ginger or cayenne will do the trick?  Or maybe they will follow the recommendation to use dandelion and milk thistle?

There is no need to ask the hypothetical question, because one can easily discover what P4S member Sarah Jane Hardt did.  Despite her vegan diet, she developed gallbladder stones, and the pain seemed to have been intolerable.  What did she do?  She decided to set aside all her personal beliefs about biomedical research and went to the hospital for surgery —

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I would bet she does not have much knowledge about how cholecystectomies (the surgery she received) were initially developed.  As it happens, it was a naval surgeon named Herlin who first performed the procedure in cats and dogs, leading him to famously conclude:

One can remove the gallbladder without great danger, and this discovery opens the way to a safe approach to stones collected in the gallbladder or impacted in the biliary ducts where they often produce fatal complications”.

In other words, this adamant opponent of the use of animals in research was treated with surgical techniques that were developed as a direct consequence of the work she opposes. Experimental studies on gallbladder surgery are still performed on animals, to this very day, in order to improve the prognosis of individuals that receive the surgery.

So Sarah Jane Hardt can today have a good night.  Thanks to animal research.

Imagine that!

It is doubtful any other member of P4S would act in any other way. They raise no objections when they are the direct beneficiaries of animal research, but they outrageously claim it is compassionate for them to deny the benefits of today’s research to others, including our children and grandchildren.  No, it is not compassionate. Their point of view is nothing short of cruel.

Additional insight into Sarah Jane Hardt’s beliefs are revealed in a view of medical profession that she posted a few days after her surgery regarding the ability of physicians to provide advise on nutrition and diet:

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However, at the same time, she had no trouble at all swallowing the other pills the doctor prescribed:

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Funny…  Topping all this, Ms. Hardt and her friends also had the ethical chutzpah to suggest that UCLA Professor David Jentsch, against who they demonstrate, had firebombed his own car, instead of accepting the claim of responsibility made openly by the Animal Liberation Brigade.  

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Progress for Science has made it clear they cannot find it in themselves to condemn the violence of the animal rights movement.  Carol Glasser, the group’s founder, said:

Whatever we are doing as a movement is not working, it is not saving animal lives. I think it is a waste of our time to demonize people who put their own life, their own  safety, their own health, and their own freedom at risk, because they can’t imagine another way to help the animals.  It is total bullshit of us, to point a finger and demonize them.

Not only do they refuse to condemn those that firebomb cars or homes, but they publicly offer support to convicted animal rights arsonists.  Here is Tyler Lang, another member of the group, offering support for two of them:

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Members of “Progress for Science” masquerade  themselves as peaceful, compassionate, pacifists, and pro-science.

Nothing is further from the truth.

They are scientifically illiterate, cheerleaders of violence, cruel, anti-science and, obviously, dishonest.

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Update: More discussion from David Jentsch here.


To learn more about the role of animal research in advancing human and veterinary medicine, and the threat posed to this progress by the animal rights lobby, follow us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/SpeakingofResearch

Statement on postponement of Pro-Test for Science rally

Dear colleagues, students, friends and supporters,

We want to thank each and every person that put aside their valuable personal time when they committed to attending this weekend’s Pro-Test rally in Westwood. Your agreement to participate is a testament to your commitment to scientific research and to the scientists who have been targeted at UCLA.

Our real goal was to positively change the climate for researchers at work and at home, where protesters are conducting their campaigns of terror. Counter demonstrating was but one way that this can be accomplished, and indeed, we believe a multi-faceted approach is required. Your commitment to this demonstration has evoked a renewed motivation in the University to work with us to create new strategies to bring under control the activities of animal rights extremists who insist on conducting campaigns of harassment, intimidation and threats against scientists and their families. At the recommendation of the University and to give these strategies an opportunity to develop and take effect, Pro-Test for Science has decided to defer the event planned for this Saturday.

We want to thank our supporters, and those who may object to aspects of the work but still hold that moral disputes ought to be resolved in the court of public opinion by civil debate. We will continue to express our expert views to the public so that society can take informed decisions in matters of basic, medical research and public health.

Pro-Test for Science

PTfS_8137

An open letter to those who support violence in the name of animal rights


The following is an open letter from a victim of animal rights extremism.  It was sent to a Los Angeles Times journalist in an effort to draw his attention to the problem. The letter was never published. Her family, not connected to animal research, was the mistaken target of the Animal Liberation Front attack on a UCLA scientist (ALF’s claim of responsibility here). Her personal account of the story, written only days after the firebombing, makes it very clear how close animal right extremists came to hurting human beings in their pursuit of their political goals. These is the kind “direct action” celebrated by animal rights fanatics that demonstrate at the homes of UCLA scientists. The truth is, as the writer notes, that this nothing short of terrorism. For fear of retaliation from animal rights extremists, the author wishes to remain anonymous.

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An open letter to those who support violence in the name of animal rights

For those of you who support violence because you are tired of waiting for the rest of us to accept your views, how exactly are your actions going to convince us to care more about the rights of non-human animals?

Three days ago, at 4 o‘clock in the morning, someone poured gasoline over my car (on the gas tank side) and set it on fire. It was parked in the driveway one foot away from my house, under a tree.  We don’t know if this was done in the name of animal rights, but after looking at websites and learning of similar actions taken against researchers and innocent bystanders, it is a reasonable guess.   My family is connected to UCLA, although none of us have anything to do with scientific research, other than having benefitted from life-saving medications and surgeries in the past.

The sound of the exploding burning tire woke my neighbors, two of whom acted quickly to prevent the worst from happening.  My two cars are total losses, my neighbors’ two cars are damaged, and a neighborhood is terrorized.  The ripples of fear and outrage spread far beyond our street, to our families, friends and colleagues at work.

What might have happened? Without quick action by my neighbors, the gas tank in my car could have exploded, killing or maiming my teenage daughter sleeping 15 feet away.  She has been a vegetarian since age 8, as are many of her friends, since they grew up watching “The Simpsons’ and wanted to be like Lisa Simpson who is smart, vegetarian, a saxophone player who challenges authority.   A roommate closer to the driveway would have suffered the same fate.  It was 4 in the morning; we were all sleeping.  This is ‘attempted murder’ not just ‘property damage’. Someone tried to kill us.

goran_lacan_attempt

Maybe you don’t care at all about the human side of this story.  You might classify the horrors that could have happened in my family as ‘collateral damage’ the same callous way our government labels civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world.  How does that kind of thinking advance the cause of the animal rights movement? After all, you are trying to influence other human beings to change their ways and care about the rights of animals, correct?  This doesn’t seem the optimal way to win hearts and minds.  Your approach seems more like ‘destroy the village to save it’ as our government practiced in Viet Nam in the 1960s and 70s.

Maybe you care only about animals.  Did the persons who firebombed my car know about my rescued house rabbit, Samsonita, sleeping in my house 25 feet from the car, who lives cage free in her own room?  Did they know about my cat, Ethel, who worked hard every night in the neighborhood to find rats and mice to lovingly bring them inside to share with me in the middle of the night?

Some of the animal rights websites claim that they are part of a proud tradition of liberation movements.  There are quotes from Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Frederick Douglass, and claims of being the ‘Underground Railway’ for animals.  But the violent harassment of medical researchers is more like the terror practiced by the Ku Klux Klan, who burned crosses in front of the homes of African Americans who dared to act as if they were free and equal to whites.  These kinds of tactics were used not by civil rights activists but by their opponents, and any claim of a moral relationship to that history by violent animal rights advocates is obscene.

I ask you to reconsider your support for violence in the name of your cause, animal rights.  Please think about other kinds of terrorism we have experienced in recent years.  How did you feel about the events of September 11th? Were you horrified, or did you think that everyone harmed, and all their friends and relatives, deserved what happened?  What about the bus bombing in London, or the nightclub in Bali, the trains in Madrid, the slaughter in Mumbai?  Do you support those actions, because the bombers believed in their cause, as you believe in yours?  Or do you disagree with their approach?

Either way, if you believe it is ok to commit violence in the name of your cause and harm innocent sentient beings, how are you are different from those terrorists?  Around the world, millions of people suffer from violence committed in the name of a cause, by government soldiers or rebels or saboteurs.  How does this make the world a better place?  How are you convincing other human beings to care more about the rights of animals by committing and applauding violence?

What would you do?

We understand.

There is a segment of the population that opposes the use of animals in medical research and basic science.  Their reasons vary.  Some think all sentient beings ought to have the same basic right to life and freedom as any other human being. Some believe that the work amounts to scientific fraud and cannot possibly lead to any advancements in the health of humans. Some argue that illness is merely a product personal choices. In most cases, it is a combination of all of the above.

Of course, we disagree.

So what have we done about it?

We made the effort to open up dialogue and bring both sides of this important debate to the court of public opinion.  In 2010 Drs. David Jentsch and Dario Ringach, along the student group Bruins for Animals, organized a discussion panel at UCLA that many welcomed as a good first step at establishing some sort of meaningful debate.

In 2011, Dario Ringach and Robert C. Jones (an animal rights philosopher from California State University at Chico and a participant in the our 2010 discussion panel), organized a one-day symposium at UCLA on the similarities and dissimilarities of human and non-human primate cognition (video here).

Dr. Ringach participated in two public debates on the use of animals in research.  The first one at the Institute for Human Values in Health Care at the Medical University of South Carolina, where he debated animal rights philosopher Dr. Nathan Nobis.  A second debate took place at Rutgers Law School, where he debated animal rights scholar Prof. Gary Francione.

In 2013, Dr. Ringach also participated in the UW Forum on Animal Research Ethics that aims to provide a platform for all sides to share their views with the public.  He also published an article about the ethics and science of animal research and contributed a chapter to a book that describes the position of both sides.

After accepting an invitation to speak at a local high school, Dr. Ringach brought along animal rights philosopher Robert C. Jones to present to opposing view.  Their shared goal was to educate children that we can have a civil debate about moral disputes in our society.

And on top of all that, our strong commitment to providing the opposing side a platform to express themselves in public continued throughout a deplorable campaign against researchers that included threats, intimidation, and calls for violence by animal rights extremists.  Nefariously, our efforts were replied with increased “home visits” that clearly have no other purpose than to harass those they disagree with.

What would you do to stop the relentless attacks on your family and home? What kind of support would you want and expect from your community, professional societies, home institution and the government?

After more than 10 years of a sustained campaign animal right extremists left us with no options but to personally protect ourselves from their disgraceful behavior.  It was regrettable that, on our first attempt, one person within our group was overwhelmed with anger resulting from over a decade of mistreatment from animal extremism and acted in ways we do not approve of.

Our stated goal clearly was, and still remains, to peacefully prevent animal rights thugs from conducting orchestrated campaigns of harassment against the UCLA family.  We wanted to convey that message clearly to all our supporters.  Having said that, one must not let the bullies who openly support violence as a legitimate method to advance their cause to pretend they are the victims.

It is then for all the above reasons that we will gather once again on Saturday Feb 15th at 10:15am, in the Lobby of Franz Hall, at UCLA to defend the tranquility of our homes, families and neighbors from fanatics whose sole goal is to resolve their moral dispute by violence and force.  We will join hands and be proud of the fantastic science done at UCLA and in universities across the country in the name of society.  Work that will improve the well-being of humans and animals alike.

David Jentsch and Dario Ringach

I Pro-Test for Science

Please leave your messages of support including your full name in the comment section at the bottom of the page (no sign up necessary). We must show our fellow scientists that they have our support. Names in the comment section will be added to the signatures at the bottom of the post.

When researchers are harassed and intimidated for carrying out their work, we must consider the whole scientific community to be under threat. We may not always be available to stand shoulder to shoulder with our colleagues, but we can still offer our strength and support from afar.

At UCLA, the scientists and their community are standing up to end the home demonstrations that have targeted their colleagues for many years.  As Professor David Jentsch writes

For more than a decade, the streets in front of the homes of UCLA researchers have been the scene of regular, brutal, vitriolic and hate-filled campaigns by animal rights hooligans. …  We have decided to act, with our voices, our messages of scientific progress and – most importantly – with the unity of our community.

Speaking of the successful first counter-demonstration at a home protest Professor Dario Ringach writes:

… it should not come as a surprise to anyone that after a decade of harassment, intimidation and threats,  we have decided to mount counter-demonstrations when these animal right terrorists show up at our homes.

These activists now have the shameless audacity to play the victim of this encounter. Incapable of understanding the message, they are now recruiting more misguided individuals to join them in their fanatical crusade and come back to harass us at our homes on February 15th.

We will be there to meet them once more and convey one simple message,

We are not going to take it anymore!

Colleagues and friends – please take a moment to leave a message of support for the brave UCLA scientists who have been subjected to fire bombs, home harassment, threats to their children, and relentless fear-campaigns for over a decade by animal rights activists, yet continue their work to advance science.  It may be difficult to imagine what this is like, and easy to imagine is an issue that is someone else’s– one that will never be yours– but it is not. It is an attack on public interest in scientific progress, in medical progress, civil dialogue, and democratic ideals. Our community is often silent in the face of attacks. We can change that and we really must.

I am Pro-Test

For those who think that this is about animal welfare, about specific types of research, about whether or not invasive research in nonhuman animals is justified, or about some other distinction among the wide range of issues concerning captive animals, it really is not.

We ask you to please read David Jentsch and Dario Ringach’s posts (here, here, here), watch this video, and get better look at what is happening.

These are our colleagues and scientists who bravely defend their work, who engage in public dialogue, who lend their voices to serious, fact-based consideration of ethical issues. Consider whether you really believe that the actions taken by the animal rights groups represent a best path forward.  If you do not, please take a minute to comment in support of the UCLA scientists and share with others who can be there to stand with them. Even if you cannot be in LA to stand with them, you can offer a comment in support and let the public know that home harassment is the wrong path.

Please leave a comment including your full name to be added to the list below.

We should all be Pro-Test. Now it’s time to say so.

Speaking of Research

Counter-demonstration. When: February 15, 10:15am sharp!
Where: Franz Hall Lobby @ UCLA (near Hilgard and Westholme)  http://maps.ucla.edu/campus/

Signatures:

Allyson J Bennett
Tom Holder
Chris Magee
Pamela Bass
David Jentsch
Dario Ringach
Jacquie Calnan
Paul Browne
David Bienus
Andy Fell
Jim Newman
Prof Doris Doudet
Gene Rukavina
Prof Bill Yates
Christa Helms
Jeff Weiner
Justin McNulty
Alice Ra’anan
Jordana Lenon
Jae Redfern
Melissa Luck
Claudia Soi
Kevin Elliott
Brian L Ermeling
Teresa Woodger
Joanna Bryson
John Capitanio
Dennis J Foster
Juan Carlos Marvizon
António Carlos Pinto Oliveira
Dawn Abney
Michael Brunt
Wayne Patterson
Greg Frank
Jim Sackett
Davide Giana
Paulo Binda
Emiliano Broggi
Marco Onorato
Cardani Carlo
Pasquele Franzese
Diana Gordon
Janet R Schofding
Rick Lane
Lorinda Wright
Jamie Lewis
Judy Barnett
Martha Maxwell
Stacy LeBlanc
Deborah Donohue
Paula Clifford
Cindy Buckmaster
Diana Li
Ashley Weaver
Jayne Mackta
Giordana Bruno Michela
Agata Cesaretti
Enrico Migliorini
Kim Froeschl
Daniele Mangiardi
Liz Guice
Myrian Morato
Patricia Zerbini
Michael Savidge
Jefferson Childs
Kimberley Phillips
Anne Deschamps
Dario Parazzoli
Robert M. Parker
Agnes Collino
Alberto Ferrari
Igor Comunale
Kristina Nielsen
Marco Delli Zotti
Megan Wyeth
Carolina Garcia de Alba
Andrea Devigili
Erin Severs
Patricia Foley
Mary Zelinski
Alison Weiss
Savanna Chesworth
Christy Carter
Joel Ortiz
William Levick
Lauren Renner
David Andrade Carbajal
Federico Simonetti
Daniele Melani
Dwayne Godwin
Howard Winet
Jeremy Bailoo
Stephan Roeskam
Mary-Ann Griffiths
Carolyn Pelham
Francesca Digiesi
Nicola Bordin
Dianna Laurent
Joe Erwin
Jennifer Picard
Vicki Campbell
Erin Vogelsong
Bob Schrock
Silvia Armuzzi
Elizabeth Harley
Wendy Jarrett
Barbara Rechman
Daria Giovannoni
Patricia Atkins
Scott Hall
Vickie Risbrough
Liam Messin
Brian McMillen
John Meredith
Aleksandra Gondek
Tehya Johnson
Nancy Marks
Leonardo Murgiano
David Markshak
William Horn
John J Eppig
Mila Marvizon
David Robinson
Steven Lloyd
Shari Birnbaum
Matthew Jorgensen
Karen Maegley
Barry Bradford
Corinna Ross
Stephen Harvey
Deborah Otteson
Bette Cessna
Steven Wise
Michael Conn
Gregory Cote
James MacMillan
Suzanne Lavalla
Lisa Peterson
Jennifer Perkins
Richard Nyhof
Beth Laurent
Gabriele Lubach
Michele A. Basso
Cindy Chrisler
Jian Wu
Mahmoud Loghman-Adham
Claire Edwards
Daniel T. Cannon
Emil Venz
Hyeyoung Kim
Jon E. Levine
Ken Linder
Kathy Linder
Matt Thornton
Margaret Maloney
Regina Correa-Murphy
Kristine Wadosky
Victor Lavis
David Fulford
Josiane Broussard
Fabio De Maio
Rachel J. Smith, PhD
Trinka Adamson
Cobie Brinkman
Emily Slocum
Michael J. Garrison
Tom Greene
Jenny Kalishman
Marcia Putnam

Stop Harassing Scientists!

Harassment is the act of systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demands. The purposes may vary, but in the case of animal extremists it consists of personal malice, their attempt to force scientists engaged in legal, regulated research to quit their job, and to merely gain sadistic pleasure from making others feel fearful of or anxious.  That pretty much encapsulates the legal definition of harassment.

Anyone familiar with the tactic of animal rights groups, documented in videos, pictures, their own “demo wrap up” reports, and anonymous communiqués of criminal acts, can recognize that the goal of their “home visits” has no other purpose but to intimidate and threaten others to comply with their views.  (You can learn more here, here, here, here, here and here, just to mention a handful of incidents.)  

The truth is that there is no public to be reached at a scientist’s front door, there is no public to “educate” about their views — which is what they claim to be doing.  Neighbors and their families who do not want to listen to their shrieks, screams and insults have nowhere to take refuge, but must see their peace and privacy disturbed as well.  Everyone is entitled to express their views on the use of animals in research, but they are not entitled to mount campaigns of harassment, which celebrate blatant criminal acts such as fire-bombings, against individuals they simply disagree with.

One of the reasons scientists  work with animals to advance medical research is because they were so charged by our society.  The mission of the National Institutes of Health is “[…] to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.”

Those who disagree with this societal goal (for example, because they hold that disease is merely the result of personal life choices, because they believe animals ought to have the same basic rights to humans, or because they believe the same work can be achieved without the use of animals) are free and welcome to make their points to the public, to lobby their representatives, to form their own political parties, to make their voice heard at the ballot box, and to advocate for a change in the law as they see fit.  We will certainly offer our viewpoint in return, but we do not oppose animal activists airing their views in public.  In the end, it is for society as a whole to decide if we consider the work ethically permissible and worth of scientific pursuit.

Harassment, threats, coercion  and emotional blackmail, on the other hand, will no longer be tolerated.

Stop it!

Now!

Please join us in a counter-demonstration.

When: February 15, 10:15am sharp!
Where: Franz Hall Lobby @ UCLA (near Hilgard and Westholme)  http://maps.ucla.edu/campus/

Other relevant articles:

http://speakingofresearch.com/2014/02/03/join-pro-test-for-science-to-end-the-age-of-terror/

http://speakingofresearch.com/2014/01/31/reflections-of-an-animal-rights-arsonist/

http://unlikelyactivist.com/2014/02/04/why-give-your-time-to-stand-up-for-science/

http://unlikelyactivist.com/2014/02/04/insecure-bullies-never-like-resistance/

Join Pro-Test for Science to End the Age of Terror!

We will be counter-demonstrating:

When: February 15, 10:15am sharp!
Where: Franz Hall Lobby @ UCLA (near Hilgard and Westholme)  http://maps.ucla.edu/campus/

Why?

Somewhere in the United States, there is a scientist reporting data that says that humans are causing the world to warm at an alarming rate. In return, he receives email death threats.

In another case, a pediatrician is harassed and shouted at because, in her expert view, vaccinations are necessary and safe for children and prevent a whole range of childhood diseases.

And then there is the medical researcher who is threatened because he has been responsible for generating embryonic stem cells and suggesting they might be a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Finally, there is the law professor who is nearly killed by a bullet because of his views on Middle East politics.

These are not hypothetical situations. This is the real work of a growing number of fanatics living on the fringe of society.  The anger generated by their failure to make a persuasive argument to the public, amplified by their sense of self-righteousness, is sufficient to convince them they are entitled to use violence to achieve their goals.

One of the most salient examples of this type of fanaticism is exhibited by animal rights extremists.

Researchers, professors and students at UCLA have been the targets of terror tactics for so long that it’s easy to forget the history or to ignore the fact that it continues today. The present wave of criminal attacks goes back more than a decade.

Here is a very short summary:

Back in 2003, Neurobiology Professors John and Madeleine Schlag saw their property vandalized at a home demonstration. “The way it proceeded … we felt that the door was going to be kicked in,” they commented in an interview.

In 2006, Professor Lynn Fairbanks was targeted with an incendiary device. It turned out animal extremists got the wrong address and planted the firebomb at the doorstep of an elderly neighbor.

In June 2007 another firebomb was placed under the vehicle of Professor Arthur Rosenbaum, who dedicated his life to pediatric ophthalmology by helping children with strabismus. His wife later received a threatening note which told her to persuade her husband to stop his research or “…we will do exactly what he does to monkeys to you.”

In 2007, Professor Edythe London finds her home flooded by animal rights extremists, and received the threat, “water was our second choice, fire was our first.”  She decided to reply by explaining, in a thoughtful OpEd in the LA Times, the reasons for her work.

In 2008, the UCLA community saw once again an incendiary device char the front door of a home owned by a Professor, the vandalism of three vehicles parked outside the home of a postdoctoral student, and the firebombing of a university commuter van.

Then, in 2009, the car of Professor David Jentsch, parked in his driveway, is set on fire while he was sleeping at home.  He subsequently received a letter containing razor blades and a threatening note that fantasized about sneaking up behind him and cutting his throat. He replied with an open letter to these coward terrorists.

Animal rights extremists torched my car in 2009

Car arson at Professor Jentsch’s house. The Animal Liberation Brigade would claim responsibility for the attack 2 days later.

Though these events are graphic, frightening and chilling, they were neither the beginning, nor the end of the violence propagated against us. These criminal vandalistic acts have been accompanied by monthly “home demonstrations,” conducted by screaming mobs who shout obscenities and taunt researchers from the street.  These assaults on our residences are the essence of violence, aiming to turn safety and security into fear and panic.

These groups (which have organized under a range of monikers: “See You in the Streets”, “FUCKHLS” and [now, quite ironically] “Progress for Science”) claim that their demos are educational, a form of genuine activism or simply “prayer vigils” that honor the lives of animals involved in research. No one should be deceived. They are little more than liars and thugs whose goal is to inflict fear in researchers and our neighbors, and their own words show this to be true.

Over the years, these demonstrations have typically been followed up by “wrap-ups” written by the protesters, right alongside the publication of “anonymous communiques” that include direct threats and patent lies about our research. Their words show them for who they really are.

On Feb 19 2011, this group (including members who still protest to this day), marched out front of the home of Dr. London. Knowing that she is the daughter of Holocaust survivors, they cut right to the chase:

“… Edythe London – aka “Hitler with a cunt”. She does things to primates that even Dr. Mengele didn’t do to Jews, gays, gypsies and other disenfranchised people in Europe. Though she claims to be Jewish, she must be somehow related to Hitler, since she uses the same methods of hideous deprivation, abuse and killing of our closest living relatives, non-human primates.” (WARNING: the following link takes you to an AR website: Click here for the full post).

On another occasion, this group marches in front of Professor Jentsch’s home, with a reporter from Los Angeles Magazine in tow. The reporter is writing a feature on the struggle between researchers and activists. Even with the scrutiny of the press, they can’t help themselves:

“David Jentsch—you cocksucking bastard!”
“David Jentsch—you sick pervert, I hope you 
die!”

And later, the leader of the group whispers to the reporter:

“Wasn’t Jentsch’s car burned or something?” Then, above the din of chants, she adds, “I don’t know how to put this—I only wish he were in it.”      

That kind of language is hardly surprising when you see the general pattern of behavior during these aggressive and hateful demonstrations. An April 2010 demonstration is summarized here:

When we attempted to open up dialogue on the science and ethics of animal research, including the points of view of animal rights activists, by organizing a discussion panel at UCLA, the only thing we got in return from these activists was more threats:

Activists protested him [Dario Ringach] and will continue to protest him because he has become a defacto leader of the pro-vivisection group ‘PRO-TEST‘ where he now speaks out to anyone who will listen regarding the need to torture and kill animals, especially primates. In fact, he is one of the speakers who will be at the “discussion” panel February 16th at UCLA’s Covel Commons. 

All the neighbors came out to see what was going on and activists filled them in on Dario’s long, atrocious history of abusing, torturing and killing primates and now his NEW job of going around PROMOTING it! The neighbors were actually very supportive of the activists and in fact, one neighbor told an activist and we quote, “I’ll be watching that asshole; I don’t want that piece of garbage and his family living in this neighborhood. He ought to be experimented on.” 

They went as far as targeting his children because of his pro-research stance (here and here).

So do not believe a single word when extremists argue that what they want is dialogue.  Here is their rephrasing of the truth:

When attempts at dialogue and peaceful attempts to make change and alleviate suffering are frustrated, some activists are willing to use more forceful means to help animals. North American Animal Liberation Press correspondent Camille Marino makes an apt comparison: “LA citizen Richard Ramirez, known as the “Nightstalker”, was a cold, sadistic and violent serial murderer — his behavior was eerily similar to that of any vivisector. While he was actively inciting an atmosphere of terror, the media relentlessly covered the newsworthy developments. While vivisectors like J. David Jenstch and Dario Ringach are active, the animal liberation networks are committed to relentlessly cover their sociopathic reign of terror. When average citizens finally apprehended Ramirez, they beat him mercilessly for his crimes. Jentsch and Ringach have earned the right to fear retaliation for their crimes. … They each make a potent case for individuals who need to be stopped by any means necessary.”

How have scientists reacted?  In a couple of occasions the UCLA community conducted campus rallies in support of our faculty and the fantastic work done at our university.  The message was that we are not going to tolerate such attacks any more.

So it should not come as a surprise to anyone that after a decade of harassment, intimidation and threats,  we have decided to mount counter-demonstrations when these animal right terrorists show up at our homes.

These activists now have the shameless audacity to play the victim of this encounter. Incapable of understanding the message, they are now recruiting more misguided individuals to join them in their fanatical crusade and come back to harass us at our homes on February 15th.

We will be there to meet them once more and convey one simple message,

We are not going to take it anymore!

Please join us to defend UCLA, our science, and the hope for medical advances and new cures.

When: February 15, 10:15am sharp!
Where: Franz Hall Lobby @ UCLA (near Hilgard and Westholme)  http://maps.ucla.edu/campus/

Join us to end the decade-long age of terror at UCLA!

David Jentsch and Dario Ringach