Tag Archives: AR activism

A New Low at NIO: extremists threaten students

Earlier this week, the animal rights extremist group at NegotiationisOver.com posted an email they received from Alena – an undergraduate student at Florida Atlantic University – in response to their attempts to solicit local activists to attend an animal rights event:

Actually, I’m an undergrad researcher aiming to work at Scripps [Research Institute]! I currently test on animals and think that it is perfectly fine. In fact, it is the one of the only ways that we, scientists, can test drugs in order to treat human diseases. I’m sure someone in your family or even a friend you know has suffered from a disease or pathology that was treated (or cured) by medicines THAT ONLY CAME INTO EXISTENCE BECAUSE OF ANIMAL TESTING.

First off, we applaud Alena for standing up for what she believes in and for expressing support for the humane use of animals in research aimed at addressing the health and welfare of humans and animals alike. Not surprisingly, however, NIO launched an offensive of degrading and hateful emotional abuse that caused Alena to plead for them to:

…please stop saying such horrible, untrue things about me. It’s hurtful.

In response, they no doubt ratcheted up the threats, causing Alena to:

…denounc[e] animal testing and my involvement in it…. I will be looking for other career choices.

Not unlike perpetrators of child and spouse abuse who use fear of further attacks to ensure silence in their victims, NIO hopes that flooding the email boxes of young people with obscenities and rabid missives will ensure that the voices of scientists of tomorrow are suppressed. Even for NIO, this is a new low, and Speaking of Research sharply condemns those who chose to act like shameless bullies when harassing, threatening and intimidating any student, researcher or faculty member.

Nevertheless, a recent post at NIO underscores their belief that targeting students is an effective way forward:

Students are far more open to objective information and far more susceptible to applied persuasion tactics. The vested interests of industry-entrenched vivisectors lie in their bloody wallets and, truly, the only effective approaches to veteran abusers appear to be through incendiaries, intimidation, and violence. On the other hand, … students are far more malleable and easily manipulated.

What people who use fear and attacks to affect others forget is that, under threat, people will say almost anything, true or not. They may well get a statement or two like the one above, but overall, scientific research will continue and the vast majority of students will continue to feel safe and secure – especially when the scientific community rallies behind them to offer support.

What’s more, for each statement of capitulation they post to their website, there are countless other students who watch these events unfold and, in reaction, redouble their own commitment to science and to scientific advocacy.

Though NIO may refer to students as the “Soft bellied target of the vivisection complex” who “can be shut down with relative ease,” they should study their history. In the winter of 2005, the ALF launched a campaign that targeted students at Oxford University in the UK, declaring them to be “legitimate targets”. Did the students bow to the threats and arson attacks on their facilities? Not a chance! The students responded by launching the Pro-Test movement in support of animal research, and gave the ALF a drubbing which helped to turn the tide against AR extremism in the UK. The hate and lies of the ALF were simply no match for the solidarity shown by students and scientists at Oxford.

Similarly, the extremists at NIO may claim one victory, but they fail to see how much dedication they create at the exact same time.

At UCLA, faculty and students alike have been the target of a heinous and criminal campaign of violence and harassment. How many students have quit animal research and/or changed their careers? To our knowledge: none. Indeed, students at institutions like UCLA have become some of the most passionate and committed defenders of animal-based research.

Students Rallying at UCLA

At NIO, they see victories in stories like these. We say those victories are hollow and pathetic. If you share our view, leave a comment below showing support for Alena and other students like her. The scientists of tomorrow need to hear our voices.

Regards,

Speaking of Research

Violence vs Non-Violence? The AR Debate!

A Fractured Movement?

It is easy to believe that the animal rights movement is one giant bloc, working together to abolish animal research using tactics which range from the legal, to the dubious, to the outright criminal. However it is these range of tactics which prove to be the most divisive point for activists, and is causing large fractures and infighting between groups. Recently the Thomas Paine’s Corner blog (TPC) (Warning: AR Extremist Website) has been attacking those parts of the animal rights movement who reject the use of “militant direct action”. The editors of this website include two Animal Liberation Front Press Officers (Jerry Vlasak and Jason Miller – see links for more details on them) and numerous other pro-violence extremists such as Camille Marino and Gary Yourofsky.

Emotion & passion drive action; not sterile debate. Attitudes change when people engage and feel. BE DISRUPTIVE. UNRAVEL COMPLACENCY. IT’S OUR JOB. We need to obliterate the status quo — not tolerate it; not become a part of it. Be loud! Be unafraid! Be Militant!
– Camille Marino – “Negotiation is Over” blog (Warning AR website)

“Do not be afraid to condone arsons at places of animal torture,” [Yourofsky] has written to supporters.
Matter of fact, if an “animal abuser” were to get killed in the process of burning down a research lab, “I would unequivocally support that, too.”
– The Toledo Blade, Sunday, June 24, 2001 (copy of article on AR website here)

TPC "approaches anti-capitalism and total liberation from an essentially anarcho-veganist position"

TPC "approaches anti-capitalism and total liberation from an essentially anarcho-veganist position"

TPC’s pro-violence rants have reached epic proportions, as this recent piece by Jason Miller (ALF Spokesman) on the TPC blog shows:

Call it [attacks on vivisectionists] extensional self defense. Call it justifiable homicide. Call it vigilante justice. A rose is a rose by any other name and it’s time for that flower to blossom in the AR movement. One of the master’s principal tools to maintain power, domination, and affluence is violence or the threat of violence—be it physical, psychological, social, political, or economic.

Consider this. Hideous as their agenda may be to some of us, anti-abortionist activists love embryos and fetuses enough to utilize violence as a form of extensional self-defense on their behalf. The question isn’t, “Do we agree with their agenda?” The question is, “Have they been effective?” Their record speaks for itself. Assassinations of doctors who performed abortions have nearly eliminated the practice of late-term abortions in the US. Food for thought.

Essentially Miller argues that any tactic that works – no matter how disgusting or morally reprehensible – should given consideration by his fellow activists. This kind of pro-violence rant, and the violence it encourages, has brought comment from non-violent AR activist Gary Francione. I’m no supporter of Francione, but I applaud his condemnation of the violent fringes of the AR movement:

Those who claim that there is such a thing as destroying a building or engaging in a break-in that does not result in harm or the risk of harm to sentient beings (humans and nonhumans alike) are simply deluding themselves.
– Francione’s blog “The Abolitionist Approach”

A Novartis executive has his house burned down by the Animal Liberation Front in August 2009

Did this arson attack risk harm to sentient brings? Almost certainly!

Sadly, other parts of Francione’s blog contain questionable pseudoscience (often thrown these in as “extras” to his arguments) and an even more questionable justification of anti-vivisection through arguments of sentience (see the AR belief section for a counter-argument).

Nonetheless, the fury of TPC against Gary Francione has been disgusting. His position of non-violence pro-veganism has apparently (according to Francione) resulted in him and his supporters receiving death threats. The TPC and “Negotiation is Over” blogs attacks have brought many other groups, such as HSUS, into the crossfire, as the fractures in the AR movement become more and more public:

[Francione’s] amoral and unconscionable actions became so regressive and dangerous, we have penned this response to denounce him unequivocally not only as a fraud, charlatan, opportunist, and megalomaniac, but also as a traitor and enemy to the animal liberation movement and as a major impediment to social transformation. Just as Wayne Pacelle of HSUS recently demonstrated that he is a collaborator with systems of oppression, so too Francione has now degenerated into an agent of state repression. He and Pacelle have now both attempted to defame and falsely accuse the radical wing of the animal liberation movement of terrorist actions and have sought to enlist and join forces with the state, the police and the FBI to break the back of militant forces in the movement.
– Camille Marino on TPC and Negotiation is Over blogs (Warning: AR wesbite)

Violence vs Non-Violence?

I will briefly end with my own assessment of the violence question. AR extremist groups frequently defend their actions by comparing themselves with other violent liberation movement in history e.g. The French Resistance who fought the Nazi’s in Vichy France.

The problem is that the entire argument fundamentally relies on the movement being morally justifiable. If you are willing to murder for your cause then you do so in the belief that you are in the right, that does not make it right. History is littered with examples of reistance/liberation movements who committed murder in the belief it would further their liberation cause – The Red Army Faction (Bader-Meinhof Group) killed many trying to liberate Germany from capitalist oppression, the Black September massacre at the 1972 Munich olympics was an action committed for liberation, recently Russia helped “liberate” South Ossetia from the Georgian Government and in 1945 the Soviet Russian forces liberating Germany raped and killed tens of thousands of unarmed German civillians.

The problem is that those animal rights extremists willing to commit arson, grave robbings and other attacks, do so in the belief that they are one of the “good” liberation/resistance movements – the fact that they are a tiny minority of people does not effect them if they believe they have billions of animals on their side (especially if they grant these animals moral equivalence) . There is little we can do to convince these extremists that their actions are wrong and immoral – many of these individuals have given years of their life to the liberation movement – for them to change their mind would be to say that the prime of their life has been wasted – something few people would be willing to accept.

Sadly there are a small number of people for whom jail will be the only deterrent – however our efforts in debating them can serve to stop them creating the next generation of animal rights extremists.

Cheers

Tom