Humans have rights too

By By Alicia Williams

By Alicia Williams

Last month, three animal rights activists were arrested at a U researcher’s home. To exhibit their dedicated effort in protesting Salt Lake City’s new ordinance prohibiting demonstrations within 100 feet of a residence, one of the protesters actually asked to be arrested.

Harassing scientists at their homes has become the newest way for animal activists to display their opinions. It doesn’t seem to matter that the scientists are obeying the laws governing animal research. No evidence or proof of wrongdoing has been discovered, and the U wouldn’t be permitted to conduct research on animals if it didn’t comply with federal regulations.

Activists simply believe that animal research is wrong and often do whatever it takes to stop it. The problem is that extreme activists have a history of getting caught up in their goal to the point of insanity.

During a Senate committee meeting in 2005, John Lewis, deputy assistant director of counterterrorism for the FBI, said that it considers some activist organizations to be terrorist groups, naming the top three: Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front and Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. Extreme animal activist groups claimed responsibility for 1,200 crimes in the United States between 1990 and 2004, including arson, theft, vandalism and bombings.

Dr. Jerry Vlasak, an advocate for violent activism and director of the Animal Defense League of Los Angeles, went so far as to tell the U.S. Senate in October of 2005 that it “would be a morally justifiable solution” to murder scientists.

In 2004, he spoke at an animal rights convention and said: “I don’t think you’d have to kill too many researchers. I think for five lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human lives.”

There is the adage that two wrongs don’t make a right. You cannot justify doing wrong simply because you want to stop a wrong. It’s still wrong.

The truth is that extreme activists’ goals are often unattainable. They want to eliminate all animal research. It’s a great goal, but unrealistic. For that to occur, an alternative method must be created, proven to work and passed into law.

Although some activists follow responsible practices, some choose to intimidate and harass researchers into quitting their jobs.

There’s proof that works. It’s exactly what the Animal Liberation Front did when they convinced Dario Ringach, a UCLA associate neurology professor, to quit in August 2006. He wrote them a note after they botched a bombing attempt of an associate researcher’s home, “You win?please don’t bother my family anymore.”

But did they really win? Did animal research stop? Did they save millions of animals?

Nothing changed, except more anti-activist laws were passed, more ordinances were enacted to protect researchers and more hate was instilled.

The protesters’ commitment is understandable, but the methods they employ to accomplish their goals are not.

Activists have the right to believe animal research is wrong. They have a right to express their opinion by protesting. They have the right to legally lobby for alterations in the laws governing animal research.

They do not have the right to harm people who do not believe as they do. They do not have the right to threaten and harass people into quitting their jobs. They do not have the right to use terrorist tactics to try to take away my opinion that humane and lawful animal research is valid and necessary.

As the wife of a man who is blind, I pray for the research that is being conducted on primates at the U’s Moran Eye Institute. My hopes and prayers all hinge on the advancement of sight technology that is being studied there.

Activists must remember that researchers are humans exerting their rights protected by law. Using violence, harassment or terrorism to force the change of others’ opinions is no better than the violence against animals that they protest.

The animal activists who were arrested and others should focus their efforts on realistic changes to animal research laws and alternative methods and not fall into the new protocol of extremist harassment against researchers.[email protected]