Tag Archives: marino

NIO keep digging in their moral hole

We recently blogged about the disturbing threats made by the Negotiation is Over animal rights extremists website.

Many science bloggers have joined SR in condemning their words. Janet Stemwedel (Ethics and Science Blog) ripped apart NIO’s tactics; Dr. Isis (On becoming a domestic and laboratory goddess) made a three point plan to defend scientists; and Earle Holland (On Research blog) reflected on Marino’s harassment of an FAU student. There were further posts from Orac (Respectful Insolence blog), Dario Ringach (on Opposing Views website)

PZ Myers (Pharyngula blog) sums things up when he says:

They’re quite proud of taking the unconscionably violent position. And now, just to show how low they can sink, they have announced a new target: our students

Notice that among the tactics they advocate are car bombs, injuries, and fear. These are home-grown terrorists, nothing more.

Sadly, after choosing to climb into a moral hole, NIO have chosen to keep digging.

If we tell a woman that it is unwise to walk down a deserted dark alley by herself because she risks being raped, it is an objective statement of fact generally offered as an expression of concern. When we educate vivisectors-in-training about the potential risks of taking an incorrect career path, we are again imparting objective information because we are concerned about their futures. Harrowing and intimidating as the thought of becoming another J. David Jentsch may be, it is a sobering reality — not intimidation.”

Marino and Grossman use the above flawed logic to defend themselves from the accusation of making threats. The problem with the analogy is it presumes that Marino doesn’t, in principle, care whether Jentsch is a vivisector – only that his job may be dangerous to him. In reality, Marino’s “objective information” is aimed to dissuade Jentsch from his current career. A more accurate analogy would be to tell a woman to quit her job or it is likely she’ll be raped. Less “objective information”, more not-so-veiled threat.

Of course, we are forgetting that many of Marino’s threats are considerably less ambiguous:

When we attack professors, we can only expect limited gains.

We need to instill a new mental image: car bombs, 24/7 security cameras, embarrassing home demonstration, threats, injuries, and fear. And, of course, these students need to realize that any risk they assume will also affect their parents, children, and nearest & dearest loved ones. The time to reconsider is now.

Note my highlighting of the use of “we”. This isn’t providing objective information, this is making direct threats.

Marino’s assault on students has been made before:

We must stand up, do whatever it takes and blow these f***ing monsters off the face of the planet. We must target professors, teachers, heads, students, investors, partners, supporters and anyone that dares to deal in any part of the university in any way. There is no time for debate and there is no time for protest, this is make-or-break time and from now on, anything goes.

These words are not from Marino (though you’d be forgiven for believing they were). Indeed they are not from the US, but the UK. Just over five years ago animal rights extremism was peaking in the UK. It was this threat on students that led the biggest pro-research backlash against animal rights extremism in the country (probably the world); a backlash that would help to almost completely obliterate the animal rights movement in the UK.

As one of the original members of Pro-Test, I can only urge all university members to support one another in defending the lifesaving research that is done by you and your peers. Speaking of Research promises to do anything it can to help university members to deal with animal rights extremism on their doorstep.

Cheers

Tom

Addenum

Marino has now gone completely bonkers (ok, maybe it’s not just a recent state of affairs). She has posted a message she wrote on Opposing Views (comments) and is now attributing it to Dario:

I, Dario Ringach, admit that Camille Marino threatened no one. My ghoulish peers and I simply assigned gratuitous inferences to her objective and truthful words in order to discredit the compassionate activists at NIO. I admit that I am the real terrorist. Each and every day of my miserable life, I evoke fear and terror in the nonhuman victims imprisoned in my nondescript dungeon at UCLA. My stock in trade — like every animal-abusing piece of degenerate filth in my illustrious community — is intimidation, fear, terror, sadism, and murder. I sometimes confuse compassion with terrorism. Please accept my humble apologies.

How far will her delusions take her (click to enlarge)?

What NIO might say tomorrow

Could this be NIO’s posting for tomorrow?

ScienceBlogs fight for Research

Over the last few days we’ve seen a battle develop between science bloggers and elements of the extreme animal rights movement. This furore followed the panel discussion that gathered groups in favor and opposed to the use of animals in research. The debate itself was deemed a success by all who took part, with Bruins for Animals and Pro-Test for Science releasing a joint statement to this effect:

Bruins for Animals and Pro-Test for Science held what, in our judgement and that of many of our colleagues, was an extremely positive and informative discussion on the science and ethics of biomedical research using animals […] Dialogue prevailed.

Sadly, not all activists were as pleased with this free and open dialogue. The Negotiation is Over blog (the name says it all really… – note this is an AR extremist website) written by Camille Marino, Dr. Stephen Best, Jason Miller and others, made clear their contempt for dialogue. This hypocrisy is evident when you consider it was they who have been calling for scientists to engage in public debate.

To interfere with the efforts for a public forum on this issue they began by publishing the address and contact details for Janet Stemwedel (one of the speakers), and tried to undermine the other pro-research speakers explaining:

NONE OF THEM ARE MEDICAL DOCTORS; repeat, NONE of the three vivisectionists have EVER treated a single patient in their lives and their torture of animals has NEVER helped a human patient.

This appears to show a significant misunderstanding as to the difference between clinical doctors who work directly with patients, and researchers who bring about an understanding of the human body and the pathologies that affect them. Without researchers, working with animal models, we would not have most of the medical treatments which doctors use to improve the lives of billions of people. A more personal explanation was given by PZ Myers on the Pharyngula blog who counteracted the accusations against Colin Blakemore:

My daughter was born with mild strabismus. Our doctor was rightly concerned, and took us aside to explain what happens to the brain in these case, citing the research done on cats (which I was already familiar with, since I was trained as a developmental neurobiologist). The brain is a plastic organ, and even for several years after birth, it is being wired and remodeled — the optic nerves are making connections with specialized targets in the brain. The young brain actually tests for disparities in the signals from the two eyes and makes adjustments to minimize noise in the signal — too much variance, and it automatically starts shutting down confusing inputs. We knew from the work on cats that, while my daughter had two perfectly functional eyes, her brain was going to respond by rewiring to ignore one of them.

She spent her first several years with therapy designed from the perspective of our understanding of how the plastic brain works — understanding directly derived from the work of people like Blakemore. She also had a series of surgeries to adjust and strengthen the muscles of her eyes.

Think about this: you have a baby daughter who needs precise surgeries done on the tiny, delicate muscles of her eyes. Do you want her to be the very first practice surgery the doctor has ever done, or would you rather, perhaps, that the doctor had done his practice surgeries on animals first? Early in my career, I worked as an animal care assistant in a department of surgery, and that’s what most of the animals were used for: teaching medical students the basics of their craft, running students through simple procedures that made them learn how to handle tissues, how to cope with bleeding, how to repair damage, all stuff that you cannot do except on living organisms.

In the weeks leading up to the panel discussion, activists carried out demonstrations outside the homes of three UCLA researchers – David Jentsch (founder of Pro-test for Science), Dario Ringach and Edythe London.

"UCLA kills animals for profit" is about as close to the mark as "surgeons render people unconcious for cash" ... both wildly miss the point

NIO’s pro-violent leanings (and we’re not just talking violence against property) were made more than evident:

[Jentch] too has a “rent-a-cop” in front of his house twenty-four hours a day, ever since his car was blown up last year. Most everyone agrees that it would have been great if he had been in it!

In a follow up post Ms Marino leaves us in no doubt as to her true motives:

the time for rational discourse has expired and the time for militant and implacable struggle has commenced

This strikes me as being another way of saying, “we failed miserably to address your points with any coherence or rationality, so we’ll be resorting to more extreme measures”. The Meddling Kids blog took a closer look at the question of extremism:

These people are extremists. When you add the word “extreme” to any position, you take all the capacity for logic and discourse out of the equation. You cannot go to them and talk. You cannot bridge the gap. There is a wire that is simply not there anymore in the gray matter, and you might as well try reasoning with a can of tuna. I believe extremism is a form of psychosis, like an ideological narcissistic personality disorder. The best that we can do is keep our eyes on them and be there when they screw up to remove them. And that goes for all extremists.

Sadly, NIO went one step further by calling for activists to go to the school where Ringach’s children are educated. This provoked widespread outrage across the blogs. Dr. Stemwedel of the Adventures in Ethics and Science blog reported:

For just daring to stand up and share his view, Dario was targeted for more home demonstrations. And now, activists threaten to bring the demonstrations to his children’s schools, to “educate fellow students what their classmate’s father does for a living”.

Express the view that scientific research is worth doing, plan on your kids being harassed? Is that what we’ve come to? Is this really the society we want to live in?

If it’s not, we need to stand up and say so, in no uncertain terms.

Having differing opinions is not a crime. Nobody’s kids should be targeted for harassment because you disagree with their parents. We need to call this behavior out, no matter who does it, no matter what cause they hope to further with it.

Scicurious on the Neurotopia blog also expressed anger at the activists, encouraging researchers to speak up. This fantastic post includes an explanation of the importance of animals in research, and an essay of Scicurious’s personal experience of working with animals:

People are entitled to their opinions. Many people DO disagree, believing that animal research is ethically wrong, no matter what it may provide for humanity, and that’s fine. Their opinions are as valid as mine. There is no problem in disagreeing with what we do, and asking us to change what we do and how we do it. Protest, change laws and legislation. Enter into a dialogue. There are many people who disagree and do so in a way that harms no one, and that certainly doesn’t go after someone’s children. Some tactics are too much. No child should live in fear because of what their parents do for a living. Our hiding needs to be over. We shouldn’t have to do our work in fear of threats, intimidation, and severe bodily harm. We need to speak up.

Speaking of Research echo this call for scientists to speak up rather than backdown in the face of activist aggression (and we are not just talking about those scientists who have been targeted – we must all stand up together). We encourage people to get involved in any way they can.

Scientists, students and members of the public stand up in support of lifesaving medical research

The White Coat Underground blog addressed the hypocrisy of animal rights activists:

The hypocrisy of these groups is infinite. To change the way our society views animal research, you have to actually convince society that your position has merit.  You can’t (morally) force it on anyone through threats and violence. The animal rights crowd knows this, and they know that they are nowhere near convincing a significant number of people.  Since they have failed at dialog and debate, they have switched to terrorism, and targeting researches isn’t enough for them—now they are targeting children.

MarkCC of the Good Math, Bad Math blog spoke of how his family has personally benefited from animal research – something which most of us will probably sympathise with then we think about the treatments that ourselves and our family’s have benefited from. It is also worth noting that as a computer scientist Mark is more aware than most as to the limits of computer simulations as an alternative to animal models:

I can say for certain that I wouldn’t be alive today without the results of animal research: I had life-saving surgery using a technique that was developed using animals. I rely on medications that were originally developed using animal models. My mother is alive today because of animal research: she’s diabetic, and relies on both insulin and medications which were developed using animal research. My father survived cancer for 15 years because of animal research: his cancer was treated using a radiation therapy technique that was generated using animal research. My sister isn’t a cripple today, because of animal research. She had severe scoliosis which would have crippled her, but which was corrected using a surgical technique developed using animals. My wife would be terribly ill without animal research: she’s got an autoimmune disorder that damages the thyroid; people with it need to take thyroid hormone replacements, developed – all together now – using animal research. I could easily go on: there’s probably barely a person alive today who hasn’t benefited dramatically from animal research. It’s an essential tool of science.

The flurry of science blogs resulted in a torrent of pro-research and anti-violence comments being posted on the NIO website – much to the displeasure of Marino. This was nicely summed up by Orac of the Respectful Insolence blog:

The reaction of Marino to the valid criticism of her advocacy of violence against researchers that flowed into her blog after a Pharyngulanche led science-based individuals there, where those who saw the unhinged rants against scientists were understandably disgusted, was most instructive, as is her formal “response.” It is very clear that Marino is not used to having to defend her hate-filled, violence fetishism, as her responses consist mostly of rants against “vivisectors” coupled with “invitations” to critics to be interviewed by her.

More posts also came from Nick Anthis of The Scientific Activist, DrugMonkey (an interesting post about Sentience), the Ambivalent Academic blog and some more on speaking up from Dr. Stemwedel. Also, Orac’s (Respectful Insolence blog) report of the recent events is not to be missed – he takes a good look at some of the interchanges between bloggers on both the NIO and Scienceblog websites.

PZ Myers (Pharyngula) also directed a lot of traffic to our website with a mini-endorsement:

Earlier, I linked to that ghastly “Negotiation is Over” anti-research site. Let me balance that with a link to the pro-science site, Speaking of Research. Compare the two, it’s enlightening. Guess which one relies on shrieking all-caps accusations and threats of dire harm to the people on the other side?

NIO and its editors have made their position clear – that they are part of an extremist minority in the AR movement who are not interested in reason or dialogue. They have proposed, endorsed and celebrated violence within their movement and we call on all clear-thinking people – both those for and against the use of animals for research – to openly condemn their words and their actions. We thank Bruins for Animals, Ray Greek, and the many scientific bloggers (many of whom are mentioned above), for openly opposing this extremist fringe, and we hope many more follow in their path.

Cheers

Tom Holder

Please check out our relevant posts on:
Getting Involved – How you can get involved
AR Extremism – Our look at Animal rights extremism and what to do about it
The Panel Discussion – “Score One for Dialogue”, written by SR member Megan Wyeth.
Joint Statement against violence – by Bruins for Animals and Pro-Test for Science

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