The Vivisector’s Tale – An LA Magazine Story

LA Magazine July 2010

A rather ominous 6 page article can in found in LA Magazine (click left for .pdf). Despite an AR slanted headline (vivisecton is only one part of animal research, but is used by AR groups because of its sinister tone), this article was a breath of fresh air. The byline reads:

Planting firebombs and issuing death threats, activists are waging war to stop scientists at UCLA from experimenting on animals. One researcher has chosen to push back. By Steven Mikulan.

The article begins with the destruction of David Jentsch‘s car back in March, 2009; covers some of the atrocities committed by animal rights activists; then moves on to the founding and growth of Pro-Test for Science. Scientists around the country can learn from Jentsch’s interview techniques as he makes sure the science has its place in the article:

“Compared to 15 years ago,” he says, “the number of things we can see inside your brain without opening your skull are remarkable. But at present time there are no nonanimal alternatives to explore how the living brain works.”

The original Pro-Test movement in the UK and its spokesman / SR founder, Tom Holder, both get mentions throughout the article:

Tom Holder, a spokesman for Britain’s Oxford University-based Pro-Test, addressed reporters: “Today is going to be remembered as the day when scientists stood up and said, “No more!” … No more to the fear and harassment of researchers who do lifesaving research at UCLA and beyond.”

Little sympathy is given to animal rights extremists – and they seem to damn themselves with every comment, as Pamelyn Ferdin, wife of ALF spokesman Jerry Vlasak, shows:

“Wasn’t Jentsch’s car burned or something? … I don’t know how to put this – I only wish he were in it.”

And so the hypocrisy of the animal rights movement is revealed – on the one hand they condemn the death of every animal, and on the other they condone the death of human animals.

This article comes rather late from the activities of Pro-Test for Science, but was nonetheless welcome.

Regards

Tom

44 responses to “The Vivisector’s Tale – An LA Magazine Story

  1. I understand. You are saying:

    “I do accept that if someone finds X to be morally wrong (akin to murder) that killing will seem to make sense to that person to stop what seems to be a greater harm”

    You can replace X with anything you want. X can be performing abortions, or spilling oil, or driving us into a financial crisis, etc…

    I understand the point. But do you recognize the fact that if we all were to act according to this principle civilized society could not exist?

    That’s why in our society we have rules. Among these is the one that says that you cannot go around killing people, even if their acts were clearly immoral (such someone killing your children).

    • Simon Templar

      Actually there is such a defense as “justifiable homicide”. I’m not sure of the criteria, but I’m pretty sure it could be used against bagpipe players.

  2. Jimmy –

    I do not have to accept that if my finds abortions morally wrong that he would be justified in killing. I do accept that if someone finds abortion to be morally wrong (akin to murder) that killing will seem to make sense to that person to stop what seems to be a greater harm. I think pro-life moderates betray their position when they condemn those who kill abortion doctors; if they really think abortion is akin to murder than and that fetuses deserve protection than people like Scott Roeder should be celebrated because as Jerry Vlasak notes above the number of abortion providers is ever waning.

    But I don’t have to accept the conclusion of the pro-lifers argument (that killing abortion doctors is acceptable to prevent abortions) because I disagree with the premise that abortion is akin to murder.

    I am not saying that killing is permitted anytime someone feels strongly about something. I am saying that there is a fact of the matter about whether it is right or wrong in a particular case…sometimes people who feel strongly are correct and sometimes they are incorrect. Sometimes they do what is morally permissible by killing and sometimes they’ll do what is morally wrong.

    And – as said before – no one simply decides. It is something that we have to do our best to ascertain even while we may be wrong.

    • a scientist

      Gerald – Do you have a position on the topic at hand (animal research)? I feel strongly that animal-based research results in scientific and medical progress that improves the lives of humans and other animals. Others feel strongly that this progress should be set aside if it depends upon the use of animals.

      One key difference in this whole mix though: strong beliefs on both sides, yet only one side is condoning the murder of humans in order to advance their agenda, and that position is pretty clearly articulated by Jerry above.

      In a nutshell, their argument is that the lives of mice merit equal consideration to the lives of humans and therefore, killing humans is justified in an effort to save mouse lives. (Presumably they’d extend that to argue that killing humans could be justified if it could lead to a decrease in the number of animals consumed for food.)

  3. a scientist

    Gerald – that doesn’t really answer the question. You think killing is permissible “under some circumstances”? Which ones? Decided by whom? What exactly are you advocating there? Free for all?

  4. Who decides between a geocentric and a heliocentric model of the solar system? No one simply decides…

    We can make arguments in support of different views but ultimately there is a fact of the matter and we can be wrong despite our best efforts to figure things out.

    Morality is not dictated by an authority.

    • We agree.

      Still, I think you must accept that if your neighbor finds abortions morally wrong he would be justified in killing. It does not matter what you think (as you do not get to decide what is morally right or wrong). It only matters that, according to you, killing is a permissible way to act in our society.

  5. Let’s talk about hypocritical, shall we?

    David Beinus, so nice to see you again. Do you recall telling me that “there are a lot of woods around here to hide bodies?” (http://negotiationisover.blogspot.com/2009/06/terror-threats-from-pro-test-ucla.html)

    Do you recall volunteering me for your next sadistic experiment? (http://negotiationisover.com/2009/06/19/vivisector-taunts-animal-liberation-front/)

    Perhaps I’m just a confused simpleton. But I thought your whole argument and justification for animal torture revolved around the betterment of mankind. Yet, David Beinus has little regard for human life. Or do I just not count? Do you care about all human life except those who dissent?

    I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something utterly disingenuous about this discussion,

    Oh wait… I know!!!! It’s the fact that “by any means necessary” — while a wholly apt and justified approach to stopping torturer-murderers and their public relations networks — more aptly applies to the pursuit of profits: blood money by any means necessary.

    Let’s see if I can get a response here since all recipients chose to ignore my email (http://negotiationisover.com/2010/07/03/the-human-cost-of-vivisection-letters-to-the-media/

    “…people are routinely injured, maimed, poisoned, left in vegetative states, and killed. The consequent law suits are simply a cost of doing business — it is not a function of medicine or science. Simply put, vivisectors, their spokespersons, and assorted animal-experiment enthusiasts murder for money. You murder animals and you murder people. You all profit while we pay for these atrocities with our taxes and, therefore, we must demand an answer to a single question:

    If animal experimentation is necessary and effective, why are so many people consistently injured and killed? It appears to us [me] that human and nonhuman casualties are simply a negligible operating cost.”

    You may not argue that the betterment of mankind is the sole function of vivisection and yet simply carry an “allowances” account on your balance sheets to “wash” away all of those pesky little human-tragedy liabilities of which YOU — all of you — are the sole engineers.

    Come on, Tom, let my comment through…. let’s have a real discussion.

    If you care about people, how do you reconcile your responsibility in routinely maiming and murdering them?

    • Camille –

      “…people are routinely injured, maimed, poisoned, left in vegetative states, and killed. The consequent law suits are simply a cost of doing business — it is not a function of medicine or science.”

      What exactly are you talking about? Clearly not the vast majority of treatments and improvements in medical care for humans and other animals that result from animal-based research.

      • scientist,

        you use the phrase “clearly not the vast majority,”

        which is an implicit acknowledgment of the fact that results extrapolated from animal experiments and haphazardly applied to humans to pump out profits do, in fact, harm people…

        thank you for your candor.

        certainly, you and your vivisector associates have spawned an entire personal injury niche all by yourselves: “if you have been sustained organ damage, had a stroke, heart attack, taken anti-depressants and attempted suicide or homocide, or if a loved one has died from pharmaceutical produce xyz, then you may have a claim…”

        there’s no dispute there.

        so how much human devastation is acceptable? i thought your entire argument rested on your humanitarian pursuits…. on the fallacy that torturing nonhuman benefits humans..

        so how do you justify the healthy people injured as a direct result of your profit motive. how many human lives are you willing to destroy to churn out results that big pharma then uses to market flavor of the month?

        we know that nonhuman life is awarded a pricetag by the nih. what’s the value of a human life?

        • Camille, your grasp of philosophical logic leaves much to be desired.

          You try to create the impression that you have found evidence that most animal research leads to death. What he has actually said is that the vast majority of treatments (i.e. those that have passed safe in animal, non-animal and human safety tests) do not cause harm (in fact the vast majority improve ones quality of life) – but that some have caused harm. No one is pretending otherwise. One potential side effect of chemotherapy is death – but it still improves ones life chances – saving many people from otherwise certain death.

          The reason for deaths from medication is routed in the fact that humans have different DNA. For some people, rare side effects can happen – just like some people are allergic to bee stings, or are dairy intolerant, etc. Now for the vast majority of people the same thing happens when they take a medication (they get better) this is reflected in the research done on animals. Often the same side effects appear in animals as humans – but just like humans, the side effects do not happen in every person – it takes a certain number of animals to have the side effect before it can be considered statistically significant.

          How much human devastation is acceptable is an important question. If a drug has life-saving properties in 999/1000 people, and can cause an allergic reaction in 1/1000 – should it be released onto the market – what if an allergic reaction is only life threatening 1 in 100 times? I can’t answer these questions – but we must remember that not everything is 100% safe. The question is made more complex because you can toxic overdose on anything – even water – so any medication when taken in excess can be fatal. There is a raft of questions that must be answered before a new treatment can be deemed safe.
          Most of the safety questions are answered at the clinical stage – testing in humans. Animal safety tests determine whether a treatment can get to the clinical stage, just as non-animal tests prior to this determine whether or not a treatment reaches animal safety tests.
          How you manage to place the blame for all ADRs on the feet of animal research is beyond me (and most of the medical community)

      • In response to Camille’s delusions:

        Yes, in this country, a very small proportion of people die as a result of drugs and medical devices that are meant to be therapeutic. This often happens because of mis-use of the drug by the patient (drug-drug interactions which couldn’t have been known to the prescriber) or because of previously undetected medical conditions that may their use of the agent risky.

        But sometimes, the drugs or devices have unexpected effects on the person that go beyond this. Many of these are rare – so rare that no study could have detected them because they occur only once in several thousand people or more.

        Let’s take a clearer example. Water kills people – from drinking it (not just from drowning). It’s called water intoxication. If you drink too much water, you can get brain swelling and die. It happens every year in this country (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_intoxication). That comes despite the fact that we are told that water is safe to drink. Is the whole water safety industry bankrupt because this happens? No. It’s not. It’s a rare effect that does not bear at all on the life giving properties of water for the greater population.

        To conclude that the therapeutic industry is bankrupt because of rare averse effects is hogwash. To claim that the developmental process, including the animal research studies, is corrupt because of this is an insult to all the people today that are surviving despite being HIV positive, to women who conquered their breast cancer and to people who have come out of clinical depressions and regained the world. All with drugs developed in animals. You denigrate all of them and their struggles with disease with your baseless lies and delusions.

        It seems that your death wish extends – beyond scientists – to all of these people, and that is a shame.

    • Camille,

      “the fact that results extrapolated from animal experiments and haphazardly applied to humans”

      Results from animal research are not “haphazardly” applied to humans. Your statement demonstrates that you haven’t bothered to learn (or maybe just prefer to conveniently misrepresent) the basic process by which drugs and treatments are developed, go through pre-clinical testing, and then (if warranted) multiple phases of clinical testing. That would be a good place to start to build an understanding of facts before you assert that it is “haphazard.” It would also help facilitate conversation if you started with at least the basic information.

      Vaccines are generally safe and their benefits are obvious. Their use has resulted in a major reduction of diseases that were previously devastating. They can have the potential, however, to produce adverse reactions on rare occasions. On that basis would you argue that vaccines should be withheld from everyone? What would you propose as an alternative?

      The people working towards better understanding of normal function and of disease processes, as well as those using that information to develop new strategies for prevention, intervention, and treatment are working towards improving human and animal health. That work is, in fact, humanitarian.

      You seem either unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge the successes of research, discoveries that have improved health, and all the evidence of medical progress. Is that because you don’t know about it, or because it doesn’t fit your arguments?

    • David Bienus

      Ah Camille,

      So good of you to make an appearance. All is well on my end, thanks for asking. I didn’t know you cared about me so? It warms my heart, really it does. Please, please though do try to spell my last name correctly. It’s conveniently spelled for you under my first posting by the way. Actually I’ve quite often made the argument that animal research benefits BOTH mankind and animals, but perhaps I’m just splitting hairs. At any rate, I hope all is well in Florida although I hear the oil spill disaster is causing quite a few problems.

      I really gave up caring how you feel about me or my chosen occupation last year. To be completely honest, you just weren’t worth the aggravation.

    • Denis Alexander

      There is something inherently delusional about this email I cannot really put my finger on… Oh wait, I know, it is the author — Camille Marino, not even wanted by the animal rights movement.

      First, I hope the medications are working and you are not listening to the voices of your cat any more. I sincerely hope your condition improves.

      Second, it is obvious that you, Vlasak and Best are doing a rather poor job at recruiting ALF-ers to do the dirty work. Some are already in jail. Coronado retired to have family. Los Angeles has not seen another bombing in a long time.

      You are cowards sitting behind computer screens that do not have the balls to act what you preach.

      What happened to your “words without action means nothing” motto? Yes… I know, you prefer someone else to go to jail for you.

      You are a coward…. Even your cat knew it.

      • Look nimrod,

        I recruit no one. But it’s good to know you read my work. I assure you, my words and actions are consistent.

        However, if you want to see a coward, go look in a mirror — what could possibly be more cowardly than tormenting an innocent, helpless animal.

        Wny don’t you get rid of the drugs, restraints and cages you goddamned pansy-ass and see who winds up at the receiving end of your sadistic experiments?!

    • Dave Bienus

      Camille,

      So long as you’re gracing us with your smiling personality I should take this opportunity to apologize for what occurred last summer. Clearly I let my emotions get the better of me which led to a less than helpful exchange of words. I believed my comments were clearly in jest and not meant as an overt threat, However, if you truly believed I was threatening you then please accept my apologies.

  6. Jimmy –

    You seem to think that opinion makes morality.

    It is not because X thinks that action Y is permissible that makes it permissible. X may be mistaken as to whether or not Y is permissible, prohibited, or obligatory.

    Like most actions, I think that killing is permissible under some circumstances and not others. It doesn’t really matter what anyone or their neighbor thinks about it….

    • So who decides if the cause is just? You? Vlasak? Who?

    • Killing, (other then in War (where the laws are different) is only justifiable if one believes that they or some other human are in immediate danger of being killed or of being grievously injured.

      Yes, anti choice groups have tried to use this, but each and every time the Courts have ruled against their position. It pertains only to born living HUMAN BEINGS

  7. Simon,

    You seem to think that tactics can be evaluated apart from the purprose for which they are put to use. I think that’s both false and naive.

    In reality, the same tactic can be immoral when put into service for an unjust end and moral when put into service for a just end.

    One cannot draw up a list of tactics that are always and everywhere allowed; likewise, one cannot draw up a list of tactics that are always and everywhere prohibited.

    • Gerald,

      If you agree killing people is justified for what you think is a just end, then it should also be justified when your neighbor thinks is a just end.

      Ending abortions is a moral cause for some. Eradicating gays and jews is a just cause for others.

    • Simon Templar

      WTF???

  8. 6 feet 4 inches and armed to the teeth:>) I answered most of your questions, but you don’t listen and are currently incapable of seeing another side to your exploitative journey through life. I’m going back to work.

    • Denis Alexander

      6 feet 4 inches and anaemic:

      Are you truly inviting people to show up and demonstrate at your home?

      If you are so brave post the address, as well as the addresses of the rest of your family.

    • Simon Templar

      Jerry,

      Which questions did you answer? Let me post them again so you’re little brain can try again.

      What will you do should the day come you need some form of treatment developed using animal research?

      Will you refuse it on moral grounds?

      Will you die, or let someone in your family die rather than have the treatment?

      Should people forgo MRI’s, PET scans, or chemotherapy because you disapprove of the methods used to develop them?

      And you still haven’t supplied your address and phone number for us to continue our discussion in person.

    • Simon Templar

      5″10″ former Special Forces sniper. I’m not impressed by your statements.

      • OK – can we please drop ALL the threats – veiled or otherwise (I don’t care who started it)

      • Simon Templar

        I absolutely apologize for any perceived threat. My comments weren’t intended as such. They were just a reply to our dear friend Jerry who appeared to have a need to inform us he’s 6’4 and well armed.

        I’m still waiting for his address and phone number. How long should I hold my breath?

  9. “I spend my life helping humans recover from injury and illness. ”

    Jerry, I’ve phoned most hospitals in the riverside and san bernardino area, and although some claim to have had you on their books many years ago – no one claims to employ you now. Where exactly is it that you do all your lifesaving? No one seems quite sure.

    “And yes, I have no moral compunctions about using whatever means are necessary to stop Jentsch and his ilk.”

    What means are necessary Jerry? It is also sick that you would condone the work of pro-life extremists. Are we all allowed to kill other people to fit our own moral compass?

    “insufficient motivation to engage in a battle that cannot stand on its principles.”

    But we did – in Oxford, in Los Angeles – and every time those in support of lifesaving medical research far outweighed the numbers who would put a stop to it. I have engaged your ilk at every opportunity – and every time I find your moral arguments boil down to a disturbing misanthropy.

  10. Simon Templar

    Big words for a little man. The very words you use convince me you know nothing about animal research other than what you choose to believe. And you, as I expected, still didn’t answer many of my questions. I’d be glad to stop by your house the next time I’m in CA to further our discussion. Please provide your address and phone number so I can set up a mutually agreeable time.

    Thanks for the invite.

  11. If anyone is lacking in credibility, it would be the non-physician hypocrites that wouldn’t know how to treat a human patient but are happy to hurt innocent non-human animals in order to get grants and enhance their curriculum vitae.

    For the record, I spent quite a bit of time in an animal research laboratory; I saw the animals and their suffering, and participated in their torture and killing. All your efforts to convince yourself that I don’t know what is going on are a ruse- not only have I seen the atrocities, I spend my life helping humans recover from injury and illness.

    And I know that hurting animals has nothing to add to that ability to help people. In fact, if the idiots that continue to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on ridiculous experiments would divert that money to help folks that need it but can’t afford it, the world would be a better place.

    If you can muster the ethical arguments and courage to stop me from trying to alleviate unnecessary suffering, then come on over to the house. And I have no use for police who support the unjust legal system that allows people like Jentsch to do what they do and not be put away, so you can deal with me directly.

    But you won’t; unlike us but like Ringach and his little band of Pro-testors, there is not enough ethical backbone to your search for fame and wealth, insufficient motivation to engage in a battle that cannot stand on its principles.

    • a scientist

      Right. In what lab? When were you torturing and killing animals?

      “For the record, I spent quite a bit of time in an animal research laboratory; I saw the animals and their suffering, and participated in their torture and killing.”

  12. Simon Templar

    Jerry: My guess is you have spent precious little time in an animal research lab. I don’t believe you have the slightest idea what happens in research. You have no idea how the animals are cared for and I rather doubt you care to know. It wouldn’t fit into your spiel. Personally I think you’re a coward. A coward because it’s easy to sit back a spew your ideas without having to actually back them up with any facts. It’s easy to play to people’s emotions rather than their intellect. And it’s easy to sit back, say it’s OK to do whatever to researchers, but take no responsibility for the results. I have no respect for you or those that you represent. I’m convinced that if I attempted some of the tactics on you that you help perpetrate through ALF that you would be the first one to cry foul. Perhaps I should begin holding rallies in front of your house, or have people call you in the middle of the night threatening violence on you and your family. That should be acceptable right? Perhaps I could burn down your house or bomb your office. All of these should be legitimate tactics in my efforts to get you to stop harassing animal researchers. Would you call the police if I did? If so, you’re a hypocrite and I have no sympathy for you or your cause.

  13. One would have to be delusional to think that imprisoning an intelligent non-human primate in a cage her entire life, taking her out only to be injected with PCP or meth (using Jentsch’s antics again as an example) and then killing her when convenient is anything other than torture and murder.

    As a speciesist (racist, sexist, homophobe?) you may choose to refuse to call it murder, but exploiting and then killing an innocent being for personal reasons seems pretty straightforward to me. Its irrelevant if it helps some other human (rarely happens); it was wrong when it was done to black humans and jews in concentration camps, and its wrong when its done to non-human animals. So stop it.

    Funny someone who supports this type of atrocity has the nerve to call the victims “amoral”; a sick mind indeed.

    And yes, I have no moral compunctions about using whatever means are necessary to stop Jentsch and his ilk. And agree with them or not, all the example of pro-lifers proves is that they utilized an effective tactic- the government’s own statistics show a marked drop in late-term abortions after a few abortionists were targeted with violence in the late 1990s.

    • Simon Templar

      What about animal research used to save animals? I bet you take your pets to a vet, assuming you have any. How do you think they developed all those vaccines they give pets? You look at a very narrow part of animal research and then proclaim you know something. You don’t. You haven’t a clue. What will you do should the day come you need some form of treatment developed using animal research? Will you refuse it on moral grounds? Will you die, or let someone in your family die rather than have the treatment? Should people forgo MRI’s, PET scans, or chemotherapy because you disapprove of the methods used to develop them? Your side intentionally avoids answering these questions because you know how most people would feel.

    • Simon Templar

      I tell you what, how about you post your home address and phone number so you too can experience the tactics you proclaim are legitimate. Seems only fair.

  14. “unnecessary torture and murder of INNOCENT non-human animals”

    So many things wrong with this phrase.
    1. It may be unnecessary for you, but for the person dying of cancer and their family and friends, it’s necessary
    2. Animals in labs have round-the-clock care, every opportunity to minimise suffering is taken (animals are usually anaesthetized),
    3. You can’t murder a non-human animal – otherwise I think you should be out in the fields defending mice from snakes – I mean you must think a whaleshark is the Stalin of the seas!
    4. Animals are amoral, they are neither innocent nor guilty.
    See – https://speakingofresearch.com/extremism-undone/ar-beliefs/ – for more information on this point.

    “It is entirely consistent to condone stopping those who commit such atrocities, using whatever means necessary”

    So you believe that animal research is morally wrong and thus you feel it is morally acceptable to kill certain humans to prevent this? (please clarify) Since pro-life’ers believe that abortion is morally wrong, do they now have the right to kill doctors who carry out abortions?

  15. I have no hatred for anyone; I just want people like Jentsch to stop torturing, mutilating and killing innocent non-human primates that never did anything to him.

    At least for the moment, our (admittedly unjust) legal system does not hold me “culpable” for any actual force that might be used to stop animal abuse, just for suggesting it would be an effective tactic for battling the injustice perpetrated in vivisection laboratories.

    • Denis Alexander

      “I have no hatred for anyone”

      Sir, you are the leader of a hate group.
      Nothing more nothing less.

    • Denis Alexander

      If you honestly believe on the use of force to advert what you think is a hugely immoral act, why don’t you do it yourself?

      You are a coward.

      A coward trying to incite others to commit the violent and illegal acts you don’t have the balls to do yourself.

  16. Simon Templar

    I’m not sure Ward Churchill (one “h” by the way) is the best person to be quoting. Considering he’s been shown to plagiarism he probably didn’t come up with the quote anyway. If someone like Jerry believes that “any means necessary” is indeed legitimate then he should be held accountable for the actions of those acting on his behalf. Kind of in the same vain as those that sued the entire Aryan Brotherhood because a couple of them beat up two individuals. Jerry’s actions and words are akin to those of the Aryan Brotherhood. They contain same type of hatred for others. Once you begin demonizing those you oppose it’s only a short step to actual violence against them. Jerry’s previous statements regarding those involved in animal research make him culpable for any violence carried out because of his words.

  17. “And so the hypocrisy of the animal rights movement is revealed – on the one hand they condemn the death of every animal, and on the other they condone the death of human animals.’

    Its not hypocrisy; animal advocates do indeed condemn the unnecessary torture and murder of INNOCENT non-human animals. It is entirely consistent to condone stopping those who commit such atrocities, using whatever means necessary.

    “The predominating absurdity in American oppositional circles for the past 30 years is the notion that if one intervenes to halt a rape or a murder in progress, if you actually use physical force as necessary to prevent that act, somehow or other you’ve become morally the same as the perpetrator.” –Ward Churchhill

  18. David Bienus

    To be honest I would be really surprised if an AR group ever intentionally kills a researcher. It would do more damage to their cause than good. It would cement the notion of their being terrorists in the minds of the public and cause many of the less militant members to potentially turn away from the cause. Additionally, it would cause law enforcement agencies to come down on them like a ton of bricks. I don’t dismiss the idea that they might accidentally kill someone because I don’t think they take that much care in their actions. While an AR group as a whole would probably never sanction the death of anyone, we can’t rule out rogue individuals who might believe they are acting in the interests of the cause, much like Eric Rudolph.