Why UCLA Pro-Test must reject the requests of extremists

The violent animal rights extremist organization the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) recently released a communique challenging UCLA Pro-Test to a radio debate. Just two working days later and ALF spokesman Jerry Vlasak decided that UCLA Pro-Test had given in and released this statement:

I relish the opportunity to debate not only the lack of scientific merit to animal experimentation, but I am also looking forward to explaining and defending the tactics used to stop animal abusers at UCLA. After years of polite offers to debate and negotiate, UCLA’s obstinacy has forced activists to pursue more effective means of halting animal experimentation.

“Explaining and defending the tactics…” Let’s for a moment just make sure we’re on the same page about Jerry Vlasak. What exactly are these tactics that Vlasak tends to expoud? At the 2003 Animal Rights Conference he told attendees:

If vivisectors were routinely being killed, I think it would give other vivisectors pause in what they were doing in their work — and if these vivisectors were being targeted for assassination … — and I wouldn’t pick some guy way down the totem pole, but if there were prominent vivisectors being assassinated, I think that there would be a trickle-down effect and many, many people who are lower on that totem pole would say, “I’m not going to get into this business because it’s a very dangerous business …”

And I don’t think you’d have to kill — assassinate — too many vivisectors before you would see a marked decrease in the amount of vivisection going on.

And I — you know — people get all excited about, “Oh what’s going to happen when the ALF accidentally kills somebody in an arson?” Well, you know I mean, I think we need to get used to this idea. It’s going to happen, okay? It’s going to happen. [emphasis added]

So Jerry, if this is your line in 2003 where were all those “years of polite offers to debate and negotiate“? Forget not condemning violence, this guy is out and out condoning it. There are also some worrying parallels between certain statements made recently, and those from 2003:

2009: UCLA’s obstinacy has forced activists to pursue more effective means of halting animal experimentation
2003: I don’t think you’d have to kill — assassinate — too many vivisectors before you would see a marked decrease in the amount of vivisection going on

Anyone else worry about some of these “effective means” might someday entail unless we stand up against animal rights extremism. Honestly can you blame scientists for not wanting to be in the same room as Vlasak? If he wishes to be taken seriously by the research community, and have his say publicly, then he must first renounce violence. Then, and only then, will he find researchers ready to talk.

10 thoughts on “Why UCLA Pro-Test must reject the requests of extremists

  1. Edward,

    Only the animal rights groups use the term “vivisectors” because, well let’s face it, it’s a lame word. But that aside, it’s pretty hypocritical of you to accuse me of soliciting a knee jerk reaction when the animal rights groups are entirely based on the same premise. Don’t argue, they are. The reason we don’t go straight to testing on humans, by the way, is because of the Nazi’s. They banned animal testing (see, you have something in common!) and began running all their testing on human subjects. Jews, homosexuals, communists, anybody they disagreed with. Since then the world community required testing on animals first. You can say we should go straight to human testing because it’s more accurate, but I’d rather not have that in common with the Nazi atrocities. Don’t pretend there’s some sort of difference between your stance and theirs because there really isn’t.

    You claim we are torturing and making the animals suffer. My guess is you really don’t know much about it. How much time have you really spent with animal researchers? Or do you get all your talking points from the PETA website? The whole animal rights movement is based on knee jerk reactions to animals and false claims about the usefulness of animal research.

    I know I won’t change your mind about anything. That’s OK, I don’t really care. What I do care about is standing up to people with your views and saying, “Your wrong”. For years researchers have sat back, afraid to talk about what they do for fear of violent reactions. But the times are changing my friend. We’re taking a stand and saying “Enough”. As Stephen Colbert would say, “You’re on notice!”

  2. I suspect this discussion has turned into word games.

    A “humane” death is only forced upon humans who have committed the what society considers to be the most serious crimes in our society and even in those cases many people seriously object to it. I also suspect that you would not use the terms “tortured”, “tormented”, or “abused” for anything that was deemed “scientifically necessary” and was within an approved protocol regardless of what it was and regardless if those terms would readily be applied to the very same actions when done in another setting.

    Animals aren’t just killed (that is seemingly not even considered much of a harm to you?), they are burned, poisoned, mutilated, forcibly addicted to dangerous drugs, bred for disease, and much more etc. Perhaps all these things are done “humanely”…but then that word isn’t much a consolation anymore.

  3. It is impossible in this situation to have an equality between humans and non-humans in the case of medical research. We can end up with 1 of 2 scenarios:

    1) We continue animal research and although this will cause animals to die it will save humans and other animals alike, in this case we put human lives above animals

    2) If we however stop animal research, we effectively give millions of people a death sentence by practically halting medical research to save animal lives in which case we put animals lives above humans

    I would also strongly disagree you can equate animal research to something such as slavery and racism as i believe you where trying to imply with 3/5 as a value. I do not feel it reasonable to automatically grant sapience to all animals and therefore do not feel logically we can have animals as equally valuable.

  4. Surely a tactic such as arson being ineffective shouldn’t be the reason we condemn it, we should condemn it on the grounds it is an attempt to cause harm to a person. That being said terrorist acts such as the ones used (and the use of the word terrorism is surely justified) are ineffective, not only do they fail in what they are trying to achieve they usually succeed in strengthening what ever it is they are opposed to, its peaceful protest and debate that really change minds.

  5. Edward,

    Animals in Labs are killed, yes. They are not tormented, nor tortured, nor abused… They are killed humanely, normally with an overdose of anesthetics.

    Vivisection means literally to “cut into live tissue”. The word leaves out the fact that in nearly 99% of the cases such vivisection involves anesthesia and analgesics. The so-called “vivisection” procedures of animals in labs is nearly the same as a human patient undergoing surgery. There is no difference at all (except that surgery in animals is in fact more regulated than surgery in humans)

    Finally, if 1% of the population “correctly believe their cause to be just…” and “they have legitimate claim to a wider variety of tactics.”, including violent crimes, then you must surely agree that the other 99% of the population, which also correctly believe their cause to be just, has the legitimate claim to put the 1% in jail… and that, my friend, is exactly what is going to happen if the violence does not stop.

  6. Clearly not all medical conditions are due to risky behaviors or poor choices…all I am saying is that there we are not even taking full advantage of the knowledge that we already possess but are seemingly willing to pay a huge cost in terms of animal lives and suffering to seek out what we still do not know.

    I imagine your understanding of science is broader that your initial post seemed to suggest…you suggested that without using animals science would come to a screeching halt, but clearly science has more tools at its disposal thank animals in cages and under knives.

    I do not think that everything can be done in test tubes and certainly not on prisoners…but I also acknowledge that somethings are currently beyond our grasp. It is fairly uncontroversial to suggest there are moral limits on how science can proceed, I imagine you acknowledge many such limits…I am simply proposing an expansion on those limits. If we threw off all moral constraints perhaps we could make certain discoveries even faster, but most opt not to go down that path.

  7. You make a lot of assumptions based on very little information. I never said that my friends feel entitled to benefit from animal research, but how should society as a whole continue to make medical progress without the use of animals when federal regulations require animal research prior to human trials? Do you think we can do everything in a test tube or on prisoners? I agree that prevention and life-style changes are vital, but you seem to think that anyone with HIV or heart disease deserves it based on “risky behaviors.” Hmm. What about congenital heart defects? Babies born to HIV-infected women? What risky behaviors did those people engage in, aside from being born.

    Thank you for pointing out my narrow understanding of science. I should step away from this debate and go back to my job supporting my university’s IACUC.

  8. Jennifer…you seem to have a very narrow understanding of what constitutes science!

    Science does not necessarily have to use/harm/kill animals…its resources go much further than that.

    There is also a lot of information that is that is not being acted upon. Insufficient resources are being directed toward the prevention of many diseases (which could arguably help more people with fewer resources) and lifestyle changes are not being made. It seems a bit unfair to engage in risky behaviors and then torment animals to find a cure for what was essentially a result of negligence or poor decision making in many cases.

    Just because animals have historically been used, does not mean that they must continue to be used or that there is no alternative.

    Your friends who have these conditions apparently feel entitled to exploit others in their effort to regain their health…this is not something they have a right to anymore than they have a right to subject human orphans to invasive procedures in a search for a cure. It is difficult to learn that you do not have a right to benefits that you have grown accostomed to having. Oppressors always feel their rights or their well being is being unfairly sacrified when they lose grip on their dominant position.

  9. We’re not the one condoning the murder of researchers though, are we? So we can still offer a sanctity of HUMAN life.

    Your view of some “all equal” equation seems to fall down in nature – you say animals aren’t morally culpable, but surely if we (as moral agents) fail to stop animals killing animals we are as guilty as the researchers apparently are.

  10. Well, I think Edward has made his point. All research with animals should come to a full and immediate stop and we should be satisfied with the extent to which current medical science can treat disease, illness, and injury. I’m sure that my friends who are HIV+, those who battle cancer, those with heart disease, and many many others would agree that nothing more can or should be done. Bravo.

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