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.
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/
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