Tag Archives: gary francione

You cannot avoid Speciesism

The idea of speciesism is central for the proponents of animal rights. According to Encyclopaedia Brittanica, speciesism is “the practice of treating members of one species as morally more important than members of other species”. It usually refers to “human speciesism”, the exclusion of all nonhuman animals from the protections afforded to humans. The term speciesism was coined in 1970 by animal rights proponent Richard D. Ryder to argue that granting humans more rights than animals is an irrational prejudice. The term was popularized in 1975 by the philosopher Peter Singer, known for his contributions to Utilitarian philosophy and his book Animal Liberation.

Peter Singer

Peter Singer, Author of Animal Liberation

The idea of speciesism is intrinsically linked to the idea that humans and animals have the same moral value. For the sake of clarity, in this discussion I will refer to “humans” and “animals” as separate categories, although it is clear that humans are an animal species. I will argue here that assigning the same moral value to all animal species is not just impractical, but ultimately absurd. Therefore, speciesism is unavoidable.

When one tries to argue that humans deserve a higher moral consideration than animals based on their ability to reason or their superior intellect, animal rights proponents answer that those characteristics are not morally superior; we simply choose them because they work in our favor. By the same token, for example, an elephant may reason that having a trunk makes him morally superior. This idea merits careful consideration in light of what we know about animals.

But, first of all, let’s establish that speciesism logically works between any two species of animals. If there is no reason to say that a human is superior to a dog, then by the same token we cannot say that a dog is superior to a rat. That gets us quickly in trouble, because the collection of animal species is vast and includes some whose lives we generally hold in contempt, like roaches, worms, ticks and mosquitoes. Regardless, committed animal rights activists will argue that all animal life deserves protection. “A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy”, remember? To that end, they were quick to criticize President Obama for killing a fly.

Ok, maybe some animal right activists will say that they are only talking about protecting mammals. How very speciesist of them! By what token would they prefer a stinky mouse over a beautiful (and highly intelligent) crow? Or a nice cuddly octopus, for that matter? The point is, any argument that you choose to decide that a species is better than another is going to be ultimately human-centric.

Or not? Can we come up with an idea that would let us decide who gets to live and who gets to die? Animal right activists are often vegan, which means that they think is justifiable to kill plants to eat them. Plants are living beings, too. And they come in species, just like animals. So what does an animal have that a plant hasn’t? A nervous system? Well, not all animals have neurons, sponges don’t (sorry, SpongeBob!). OK, so sponges are off, and so are other nerve-less animals. How about jellyfish, corals and starfish which have a nervous system so rudimentary that they can barely feel anything?

Dog Tick Gary Francione

Would it be speciesist to kill this tick to save the dog some discomfort?

A while back, I presented animal rights philosopher Gary Francione with the following dilemma: “My dog has ticks, what do I do?” If I kill the ticks, that is morally wrong (according to his animal rights position), because I would be sacrificing the life of an animal (the tick) for the mere comfort of another (the dog). So obviously the only ethical action would be to leave the ticks on the dog. Any other action would be based on the assumption that the dog is somehow superior to the tick, which would be tantamount to speciesism. Gary Francione suggested that “sentience” has to be a factor in the decision. “Sentience” is a word that you hear animal right activists often toss around as the criterion to protect animal lives. But sentience is a notorious tricky concept. It is a synonym of “consciousness”, and understanding consciousness has been dubbed the “hard problem” by philosophers and neuroscientist alike. Some, like philosopher David Chalmer, even think that is intrinsically impossible to solve. Neuroscientists continue to work on this problem. Research on the neurophysiological correlates of consciousness is advancing at a good pace. Yes, we generally assume that a dog is conscious, but how about a rat, a fish, a roach? Is there a gradient or a scale in sentience?

If we are going to make any kind of assumptions on what animals are conscious (“sentient”) and which are not, we need to bring in our knowledge of their nervous system. And, in this regard, the overwhelming majority of animal species seem to fall woefully short. For example, the mollusk Aplysia californica (widely used in the lab to study synaptic connections) only has 20,000 neurons, while we have in our guts (the enteric nervous system) a hundred million neurons. So, if our gut is not conscious, we have no reason to think that Aplysia and any mollusk like it are conscious, either. So, there you go, now you can eat clams with a clear conscience, they are no more sentient than carrots!

The point is that we have come to admit that there is a scale of sentience: some animals are more sentient than others. We have also established the criterion of “sentience” as the one to decide on the moral value of beings. From there, it can be argued that humans deserve of special consideration because we have a special kind of sentience that no other animal has. But that is a discussion for some other day. The key issue is that we have sufficiently established that speciesism is unavoidable. No matter how we put it, we are always going to give some species a higher moral status than others.

This leads us to the animal welfare position on how to treat animals, which is quite different from the animal rights absolutist position. As proponents of animal welfare, we care for pain and distress that animals may suffer and try to diminish it, but not because animals have rights, but because our human nature compels us to do so. Moreover, we do not think that all animals should be treated the same. A chimpanzee, a dog, a mouse, a fish and a fly do not have the same moral status. You can do things to one of these animals that you should not do to the other. They cannot be treated as equals.

This may sound like a silly discussion, but in fact the issue of the value of the human life is hugely important because it goes to the very core of every system of ethics. If we say that a human life has the same value as the life of rat, that not only increases the moral value of the rat, it also decreases the moral stature of the human. Therefore, the argument for animal rights is a challenge to our more basic values and should not be taken lightly.

Furthermore, there is a logical connection between the core idea of “animal rights” – that human lives and animal lives have the same value – and the violence of animal rights extremists. If the life of an animal is so valuable, then that justifies extreme action to protect it. And if human life is as valuable as the life of an animal, then the calculus of destroying a few human lives to save many animal lives is nothing more than a logical conclusion. Yes, one may argue that the end does not justify the means, but in fact we, as a society, constantly break that principle. For example, most would believe it justified to kill an assassin to save the lives of its victims. By the same token, the animal rights terrorist finds justifiable to kill a few scientist if that is going to save the lives of many of animals used in research. To quote Jerry Vlasak: “So yes, I think the threat of violence would save lives, innocent lives”. His logic may be sound, what is profoundly wrong is his assumption that the life of an animal has the same value as the life of a human being.

Juan Carlos Marvizon, Ph.D.

Gary Francione: “I don’t believe in vaccinations”

We previously discussed the anti-vaccination stance of a member of the animal rights group “Progress for Science”.  The fact that this individual prefers oregano oil, ginger, garlic, and other herbs over vaccines did not come as a surprise.  We have already noted the strong similarities between the arguments espoused by the anti-vaccination and animal rights groups.  But you may be asking yourself — just how prevalent is the view among animal rights activists? It turns out the position can be traced all the way up to prominent academics, such a Professor Gary Francione:

Yes, you heard right (play it again if in doubt) — Rutgers Law Professor Gary Francione does not believe in vaccinations. He is not alone.  The exuberant applause he receives comes from animal rights supporters in the audience, and you can easily judge there are no shortage of them.

How could this be? You would think that any reasonable person who looks at the data ought to conclude that childhood vaccinations do in fact work and that, without any shred of doubt whatsoever, they save thousands and thousands of human (and animal) lives each year.

Take a look at the incidence of measles and diphtheria over the last decades, for example, and notice how the numbers drop precipitously as vaccines for these illnesses were introduced. You can find similar graphs for many other common diseases.


If Professor Francione had any children he would not vaccinate them.  What about those who have children?  Does he truly understand what would happen if the public were to follow his recommendation?  The data say that millions would die each year.

It is shocking that a respected scholar offers a view that is nothing short of a pubic health hazard. It is mind-boggling that anyone who calls himself compassionate would put the lives of so many children at risk.  What kind of meaningful ethical discussion can one possibly have with those who blatantly reject scientific facts and deny past contributions of the work to human health?

One must also recognize there is something ludicrous about the entire situation.  On one hand, many animal rights activists deny the benefits of animal research.  On the other, they work extremely hard to argue they should be entitled to the benefits of the very same work they oppose.

Thus, we see hear Professor Francione say he does not believe in vaccinations (and other pharmaceuticals?) and but elsewhere he writes —

[…] Those who object to animal use for [animal research], however, have no control as individuals over government regulations or corporate policies concerning animals. To say that they cannot consistently criticize the actions of government or industry while they derive benefits from these actions, over which they have no control, is absurd as a matter of logic. (Francione 1995, 181).

No, it is not absurd. While it is true he may not have control over government actions or policies he does have control over his healthcare and that of his family.  In fact, he exemplified for us how he would exercise that control by not vaccinating his children.

Consider the following analogy. Suppose you are a social activist who forcefully opposes child and forced labor practices.  You discover that a particular US company manufactures its products overseas under deplorable labor conditions. Would you still buy form such a company or boycott its products? Is there any way in which you can say that you morally oppose forced labor but argue you are nevertheless entitled to benefit from the cheap prices the company has to offer? If you were to buy from such a company can you be surprised if someone called you a called a hypocrite?  After all, would be supporting, financing and perpetuating a practice you consider immoral and advocate against.  It makes sense to argue the same applies to animal research.

Many animal rights activists may respond the analogy is not adequate because, in the case of refusing healthcare derived from animal research, the outcome may include death, instead of the more mundane consequence of not purchasing the latest smart phone.  This would be a curious argument coming from those who fail to acknowledge the benefits of the research in the first place. Nevertheless, in objecting in such a way they would be making our case — animal research saves lives.  Herein lies the moral dilemma opponents of research who refuse to confront even when it is their own lives that are saved by the work of biomedical researchers.

To learn more about the role of animal research in advancing human and veterinary medicine, and the threat posed to this progress by the animal rights lobby, follow us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/SpeakingofResearch

The moral relevance of human intelligence

Animal rights proponents often assert that “sentience” is the only morally relevant characteristic. In their view, we owe the same moral consideration to all sentient living beings, which must include the same basic rights to life and freedom.

The animal rights philosopher asks — Why does it matter if humans can compose a violin concerto or prove complex mathematical theorems?  After all, animals also have unique abilities that no human possess.  Birds can fly unassisted, dolphins use sonar, and mice have an exquisite sense of smell. In what way does human intelligence makes us different from other living beings in any morally relevant way?

As an example, one of these philosophers, Prof. Gary Francione, writes:

“[…] cognitive characteristics beyond sentience are morally irrelevant […] being “smart” may matter for some purposes, such as whether we give someone a scholarship, but it is completely irrelevant to whether we use someone as a forced organ donor, as a non-consenting subject in a biomedical experiment.”

Sentience, according to the dictionary, is the “ability to feel and perceive things.”  However, to Prof. Francione it clearly means something more:

[…] sentience is a necessary as well as sufficient characteristic for a being to have interests (preferences, desires, or wants) in the first place. A rock is not sentient; it does not have any sort of mind that prefers, desires, or wants anything. A plant alive but has no sort of mind that prefers, desires, or wants anything.

Having preferences, desires, beliefs, interests and acting purposely to achieve them is to attribute a living being with mental states that go beyond the mere ability to feel and perceive things.  It goes beyond the accepted definition of “sentience”.  Yet, it seems obvious that not all species possess these attributes in equal degrees.

A human mother that is contemplating death due to cancer, will suffer beyond her physical pain when thinking that her children will grow up without a her, that she will never see them marry or have children of their own, that she will leave her spouse alone to take care of the family.

It is her cognitive abilities that allow her to suffer in ways other animals cannot.  Thus, if we agree that suffering is morally relevant, the type of suffering this mother experiences must count too.  And because such suffering is enabled to beings with the cognitive abilities that allow them to pose such questions, one must conclude that human cognitive abilities are morally relevant too.

Human cognitive abilities enable us to suffer in ways no other animals find possible.

There is a second important way in human intelligence becomes morally relevant.  It is the fact that our cognitive skills give rise to the scientific edifices of mathematics, physics and life sciences, which allows us, humans, to combat suffering in the world.

Humans have relied on our science to develop vaccines, screening tests and diagnostic devices, therapies and cures for many diseases.  These developments have saved billions lives, both human and non-human, and eliminated much suffering.

In contrast, while it is true that birds fly, dolphins use sonar and mice have a terrific sense of smell, none of these abilities allow them to battle suffering.

Rejecting our ability to confront suffering is to reject our human condition. Rejecting the moral responsibility that results from our cognitive abilities, as proposed by animal rights activists, would be wrong.

Cat Helicopter Exposes Moral Confusion Among Animal Rights Activists

Animal rights theorists argue that our moral consideration for a living being must rest exclusively on its intrinsic properties — the notion of moral individualism.

I explained earlier that accepting such an idea would imply our use of human or animal remains for an art project in school would be equivalent to using play-dough or collage paper — all of these items being inanimate objects with no interests of their own.

Such hypothetical scenario became a reality when Dutch artist Bart Jansen used his dead, pet cat, Orville, to build a flying helicopter.  People gathered and chanted Orville’s name as the dead cat took off for the firs time.

Of course, animal rights activists that subscribe to moral individualism are not expected to object to such use of the cat but, as it turns out, the opposite was the case.

Animal rights activists showed their displeasure of his work by writing “Kill the animal killers” and “Shame” in graffiti letters on the side of the RAI convention center, which hosted the fair where Jansen was displaying his piece. The Dutch Party for the Animals plans to file a complaint to the festival organizers. And according to festival organizer Liesbeth Hemelrijk  “[…] people declare him [Jansen] the worst person in the country.”

This is a very clear illustration of how morally confused animal rights activists are. They subscribe to the notion of “moral individualism” which they use to challenge scientists on their use of animals in biomedical research, but when it comes to applying the same concept to their own behavior they fail miserably.

Objections to the Marginal Case Argument

Scientists are often challenged with the so-called marginal case argument.

We are asked to spell out the criteria that make our experiments justifiable in animals but not in humans with comparable abilities and therefore comparable interests. These criteria, we are told, must be evaluated for each individual separately (so-called moral individualism). The resulting argument against animal research consists in pointing out that no matter what criteria are selected, it is always possible to find some humans (e.g., the senile, the cognitively impaired or the comatose patient) who should also be candidates for invasive research. According to this line of reasoning, logical consistency demands that we conduct experiments with these human patients along or instead of using animals.  If we are unwilling to do so, then we must be guilty of speciesism.

Same moral status?

Let me bring up a few objections to this argument.

First, it seems clear (to me at least) that the intrinsic properties of an individual cannot possibly be all that matters in assessing moral status of living beings.  If such properties were all that mattered, then we should feel comfortable granting a rock, a dead cat, and human remains the same moral consideration since they can all be classified as inanimate objects with no interests of their own.  And yet, while nobody will object to a child playfully kicking a rock, most will not feel comfortable with him kicking a dead cat for his or her amusement or using human remains in an art project for school.  The suffering such acts will inflict on others must count as well.  Thus, we must reject moral individualism. Once that premise is gone, the entire marginal case scenario falls apart.

Second, even if for the sake of argument one accepts moral individualism, the resulting moral theory is impractical. Are we prepared to evaluate every single individual we encounter in life to decide on his or her moral status?  Should we assess the cognitive abilities of the child now crossing the street? The dog walking with her? The squirrel that just rushed in front of our moving car?  On one hand, consistency demands that we do so, but applicability demands that we come up with a more practical approach. Indeed, our ability to function in daily life is aided by organizing the world into different categories (or kinds) of living beings and making broad assessments of their interests and moral status. Our brain’s ability to quickly recognize species membership facilitates this. It enables us to determine that the squirrel running in front of our car is a living creature and to swerve to avoid running it over—unless doing so would endanger the child crossing the street. In most situations, we can assess the interests of living beings based on the normal life of the members of that species. We have no need to assess the specific interests and moral status of this particular squirrel and this particular child.

Third, the marginal case scenario is nearly always posed by using an impaired human and a non-human animal, rather than a normal human and a non-human animal with super-natural abilities. Why? Because there is a clear difference between these two situations.  On one hand, should an ape appear in front of us, such as in Kafka’s “Report to the Academy”, speaking in fluent English, asking to be treated as a peer, it seems difficult to think we could refuse on any grounds, even if it represents an extraordinary case.  On the other hand, when human patients are impaired from their normal state, in most cases, we have no absolute certainty the condition is permanent.  A cure for Alzheimer’s or autism may possibly be developed in the future and their mental capacities restored.  Moreover establishing the lack of cognitive function with confidence may be more difficult than we have anticipated, with new studies showing that patients in vegetative state may retain some cognitive function. And, as I mentioned earlier, even in cases were science tell us there is no hope for recovery on the horizon, harming these patients would cause suffering in others that must also be taken into consideration.

Finally, there is also a scientific objection: Even if one were to accept on principle the suggestion by animal philosophers and activists that if we experiment on animals we ought to be experimenting on impaired human patients, that population would not be best suited for scientific studies. Patients with pre-existing conditions have a wide range of abnormalities and individual differences that would make it extremely difficult to conduct properly controlled scientific studies.  Thus, in addition to moral considerations, there are valid scientific reasons to reject the proposal of using impaired humans rather than animal subjects in most studies.

The Human or the Mouse? Would You Flip a Coin?

On March 8th I debated Prof. Gary Francione at Rutgers.

It was an interesting, heated but civil debate, with a somewhat anticipated outcome.

In a few words, we have profound, irreconcilable differences.

There is a deep, fundamental gap between the views of the vast majority of the public and anyone whose moral theory declares permissible to flip a coin in order to decide who to save in a burning house, a human or a mouse.

And this is exactly what Prof. Francione and a handful of his followers (about 5 out of 120 members in the audience) were prepared to do .  Of course, they are right.  They are right in that this is precisely what Prof. Francione’s theory of animal rights demands them to do.  Why?  Because the theory considers the mouse and the human as both sentient beings that deserve exactly the same level of moral consideration.

The root of our differences can be traced down to his position that there are no morally relevant characteristics that would make the loss of life for the human any different than the loss of life for the mouse.  Prof. Francione view is that the same things are at stake.

Here, of course, he stands against the philosophical current:

For example, Peter Singer recognizes that

to take the life of a being who has been hoping, planning and working for some future goal is to deprive that being of the fulfillment of those efforts; to take the life of a being with a mental capacity below the level needed to grasp that one is a being with a future — much less make plans for the future — cannot involve this particular kind of loss.”

Ortega y Gasset explained that

Human life is the execution of an aspiration — a life’s plan.  Human life is a process that cannot be reduced to mere living by satisfying our immediate biological needs.  Humans are not content with living, they need to live well and realize their ambitions.”

and this, of course, is a relevant reason why animal and human interest in life are not similar.

Tom Regan agrees when he writes

“[…] the harm that death is, is a function if the opportunities for satisfaction it forecloses, and no reasonable person would deny that the death of any […] human would be a greater prima facie loss, and thus a greater prima facie harm, that would be true in the case [of] a dog”

In my opening remarks, I presented reasons for why we must reject the animal rights view, which equates the moral status of all sentient beings.  I did this by giving examples of how applying the theory to various scenarios would lead us to behave in ways that conflict with our moral intuitions.  I argued that once we reject this extreme view, all we are only left with theories based on the notion of unequal moral status between animals and normal humans (such as the two-tier or sliding scale model of moral status).  All of these theories allow animal experimentation to various degrees.

I explained how researchers view very concrete situations as being comparable to the burning house scenario, such as porcine heart-valve replacement surgery, the polio epidemic or the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

I explained also why I believe we have obligations to other living beings, but that these obligations do not imply that animals have rights, as they cannot behave as autonomous, rational moral agents in a community of equals.   This, of course, is a point made by Carl Cohen in various occasions.

Unfortunately, there was no effort on Prof. Francione’s part to pinpoint the flaws in my reasoning.  One of the virtues of his theory is that it is extremely simply to understand, extremely simple to apply, and the consequences are straightforward.   My main point was that the consequences of the theory are in direct conflict with the moral intuition of the vast majority of the public and we must reject it.

Instead, his attacks on animal research amounted to a potpourri of classic mischaracterizations by animal right activists of the actual science, our true intentions, and personal ethics, all of which are difficult to address in a few minutes in a debate.

For example, I pointed out to the use of primates in the development of the polio vaccine that has helped to nearly eradicated the disease from the face of the planet and will continue to save lives for generations to come.  The benefits are unmeasurable.  He responded that animals were not truly needed in the development of the vaccine, in direct contradiction to statements by Dr. Albert Sabin.

I noted that there is vast scientific consensus (92% agreement) from both scientists and physicians alike on the necessity of animal research to advance medical science and knowledge.  He countered that, on this matter, the jury is still out.

He criticized the scientific community for not including mice and rats in the animal welfare act (AWA), but his true position was exposed when he declared the AWA “not worth the paper on which it is written”.   Let us be clear: there are no amendments to the AWA whatsoever that would make the research ethical in the view of animal rights activists.

He criticized me for not being vegan, while it is evident that even if all scientists were to become vegan tomorrow the research would still be viewed as unethical in their eyes.  (Incidentally, I think the ethics of animal food can be defended, but this is an entirely different topic and debate).

I clarified that I am opposed to the use of animals for the development of yet another lipstick, but that there is an obvious need to ensure that any chemicals we bring to our homes are safe to humans and animals alike.  I also noted this is not the type of toxicology work done at our universities.

During our mutual questioning I asked him if his education campaign to break the cycle of “supply and demand” of animal food also extended to the benefits generated by animal research, such as vaccines.  In other words, was he willing to ask the population at large to stop vaccinating their children?

He responded that in fact he would not vaccinate his children (he has none, although he did not say if his dogs are vaccinated), and later he clarified his opposition to vaccination rests not only for ethical but other reasons, which he never explained.  I expressed my dismay at his anti-vaccination position.

Many of the questions directed at me by the audience dealt with the question of moral status of animals and humans.  I explained that I do not claim the moral status of all humans is above the moral status of all animals.  A number of questions regarding marginal cases ensued.   I think this can be a productive and interesting discussion to have in society, but it is only a discussion that is possible once we accept the unequal moral status of animals and normal humans.   Clearly, it is not a discussion that is even theoretically possible within the framework of animal rights theory that equates the moral status of all sentient beings.

I had a nice and frank conversation with Prof. Francione prior to the debate.  As he correctly judged, our positions are “miles apart”.  My perception is that he is a good man, with noble intentions, but philosophically he is as wrong as anyone can be.

Both Prof. Francione and I agreed on one thing: the debate was a good example of how passionate but respectful discourse is possible on controversial issues in our society.  I want to publicly thank him for his invitation to debate.

Prof. Francione and I will share a video of the entire event once it is ready.

Dario Ringach

We must reject extremism


Today’s Pop Quiz:


What kind of social activism involves:

  • Stalking persons at home and screaming “murderer” through bullhorns
  • Issuing “wanted” posters listing home addresses
  • Thinly veiled (or not so thinly veiled) suggestions that their targets should be murdered
  • Razor packed letters and death threats
  • Adherence to the motto “by all means necessary”

And your choices are:


A.  Anti-abortion extremists
B.   Animal rights extremists
C.   All of the above.

*drum roll*

If you chose C, you were right!

Animal rights extremists and anti-abortion extremists are now sharing the same play book. Don’t believe us?  Consider the following.


Wanted postersOn the left is a wanted poster featuring Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas physician who was repeatedly targeted by anti-abortion extremists. In 1993, Dr. Tiller was shot five times by a long-time abortion activist. He survived that incident, however he did not survive a follow-up attack in 2009. One Sunday morning while attending church in Wichita, he was fatally shot in the head.

The poster is eerily similar to one recently issued by animal rights extremists targeting two researchers at a research university that also happens to be in Kansas. In this case, we covered the photos because thankfully, the researchers have not been targeted with physical violence. However their names are being been heavily circulated by extremist groups.


StalkingWe all support the right to protest…but when do things go too far?

We think the answer is very simple.  Things go too far when you do not have a true public audience, when your acts have nothing to do with explaining the public the reasons behind your activism.   Instead, your main goal is to threaten and intimidate others and submit them to your views by the use of violence and force.

Targeting biomedical researchers at their homes has been a tactic employed in recent years by those opposed to the use of animals in research.  Researchers’ addresses are frequently distributed by extremists along with information portraying them as monsters who must be stopped at all costs, by “whatever means are necessary”.   Sadly, this behavior has achieved its desired effect  – researchers, families and neighbors are frightened.  Are we over-reacting?  Are these empty threats?



No, their threats are not empty.  Home demonstrations are followed frequently by criminal acts that could easily become deadly.Above you can see depictions of clear criminal activity.  Can you tell the difference?

On the top left is a photo of the “New Woman All Women” clinic in Birmingham, Alabama which was bombed on January 29, 1998 critically injuring a nurse. In 2005, suspect Eric Rudolph, also known as the Olympic Park bomber, pleaded guilty to numerous federal and state homicide charges linked to this act and others.  He received five consecutive life sentences.

The other three pictures are all linked to animal rights extremism. The photo on the bottom left is from a security surveillance camera that captured one of two homemade bombs as they exploded approximately one hour apart at a biomedical company that uses animals. Investigators say the second intended to target responding police officers and firefighters. The suspect, Daniel Andreas San Diego remains on the loose.

The next two photos on the right column show a car and home that were firebombed at the University of California Santa Cruz. The researchers were targeted for their use of animals. The family was in the home when the firebomb was tossed at the house. Family members (including two small children) escaped through an upstairs window. It’s easy to see how that case could have been even more tragic. The person or persons responsible for these crimes have never been caught.

The Animal Liberation Front Press Office would like the public to consider such actions as mere “property damage”.  Bombing a family in their sleep is merely attacking property?   Mailing razor blades and death threats is civil disobedience?  Of course not, these are all criminal acts that are encouraged, publicized and applauded by animal rights extremists.


Promoting and celebrating murder and hate


The rhetoric shared by those opposed to abortion and animal research is disturbingly similar.


 I don’t think you’d have to kill — assassinate — too many … I think for 5 lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human lives. – Dr. Jerry Vlasak, 2003 Animal Rights Convention presentation


“They are persons worthy of defense, like any born person, and they must be defended by any means necessary to protect them, including the death of the assailants, which in this case would be the abortionists and their direct accomplices.” – Rev. David C. Trosch, Roman Catholic priest


“It would be great if all the fast-food outlets, slaughterhouses, these laboratories and the banks who fund them exploded tomorrow… Hallelujah to the people who are willing to do it.”  – Bruce Friedrich, PeTA.


Bill O’Reilly repeatedly referred to Dr. Tiller as “Tiller the baby killer” in his show and, of course, quickly moved to abstain himself from any responsibility after the murder.

And the list goes on and on…  Is this what our polarized society has come to?  Is advocating for murder and hate an acceptable way to achieve social change?   Is it truly free speech?

Most animal rights activists reject violence


And yet, it is clear that many animal rights activists do not support the activity of these extremists to achieve their social goals.

The same prominent philosophers that have argued for elevating the moral status of animals have argued against such violence, including Tom Regan, Peter Singer and Gary Francione.  It is clear that those that wield firebombs in one hand and a copy of “Animal Liberation” in the other did not pass the cover of the book.

Gary Francione writes:

I am violently opposed to violence […] the animal rights position is the ultimate rejection of violence. It is the ultimate affirmation of peace. I see the animal rights movement as the logical progression of the peace movement, which seeks to end conflict between humans. The animal rights movement ideally seeks to take that a step further and to end conflict between humans and nonhumans.

Bryan Monell and Chris DeRose from Last Chance for Animals:

The animal rights philosophy is based on respect for all life and that extends to our adversaries’ families. LCA is opposed to targeting anyone’s children. This is counterproductive and the antithesis of the animal rights philosophy. Children, like the animals in laboratories, are innocent.

Shannon Keith, Director of Behind the Mask:

I cannot emphasize enough how critical open dialogue is to further a constructive merging of two areas of thought, that will hopefully be a means to assisting in more humane standards for animals used in science, as well as engaging in discussions about the elimination of animals used in medical research and the alternatives readily available.

Knowing that these researchers are willing to engage in peaceful, rational and progressive discussions is very hopeful.

An honest and open public dialogue on the use of animals in biomedical research cannot occur when scientists are fearful of expressing their opinions.

The challenge in front of the broad public is clear.  Are we (the vast majority of people that agree with civil dialogue as the only way to resolve ethical disagreements) going to submit to the will of a few extremists?  Or are we going to find ways to come together to isolate those that reject social norms and civil debate in a pluralistic, democratic society?  For those that welcome dialogue the action is imperative, as one hopes we never have to lament another case like that of Dr. Tiller.


Speaking of Research