In recent days, the Justice Department (the moniker of an animal rights terrorist group) sent a letter to my home that contained razor blades and graphic threats to “cut my throat”, and they have openly announced that they sent similar letters to at least one of my trainees. The letter that was sent to my home, which amounted to an amateurish attempt at instilling fear, is the latest in a series of psychological attacks by animal rights activists who have focused their attention on UCLA researchers. The threat to send such a letter to my graduate student is pathetic, desperate and horribly misguided.
Putting aside the miserable cruelty required to construct and send these missives, the letters lack the gravitas required to react to them with fear. They make claims that are almost laughable. The letter to me claimed that the writer knew “…where I got my dry cleaning done,” but I haven’t been to a dry cleaner in more than 5 years. It’s hard to take a threat seriously when it is based upon such daft statements. As for the razor blades that have been dipped in “AIDS blood”, it is impossible to react fearfully to any threat that is both factually wrong (it was obvious to me that the razor blades sent to me had no blood on them) and scientifically ridiculous (the HIV virus cannot survive in dried blood on a razor blade sent in the mail, even if the blood was there to begin with).Here is my message to the Justice Department and to any others that think it is acceptable to use intimidation tactics to stop researchers: you will not succeed.
Responsible use of animals in research aimed at improving the health and welfare of the mentally ill is the right thing to do, and we will continue because we have a moral responsibility to society to use our skills for the betterment of the world. Every day that my students and I work in my lab, we are contributing to the progress of humanity. You, on the other hand, take civilized society backwards with your zealous determination to punish any and all that do not share your philosophy on human-animal relationships.
Even if you choose to continue acting like childish bullies (toothless though you often are), I will not give up my hard work in the laboratory on behalf of those who need my help. I will not feel fear in response to your increasingly desperate and puerile attempts to frighten. In the end, you will fail.