terrorism against researchers (was Re: bioethics)

mhollowa at epo.som.sunysb.edu mhollowa at epo.som.sunysb.edu
Wed Feb 2 19:28:25 EST 1994

>>Ah, another example of a poor soul suckered into equating "animal rights"
>>with animal welfare (see other thread).

>        Sir, I am neither a pour soul, nor have I been suckered. I didn't
>think I needed to post a dictionary definition of "Luddite" on
>bionet.general, but perhaps you should take the time to look it up.
>	I think your posts would be more convincing if you were to leave
>the ad hominem attacks & implications about other posters' thought
>processes aside. Had you limited your accusations about thought to me
>& my posts, I'd have replied by private e-mail. But since you aim at
>others as well, I feel the need to post a reply publically.
>        A common tool of propaganda is to put the disclaimer out in
>front, and to do it anyway. Dr. Holloway claims he doesn't want to pick
>on anyone, and so it's our fault he criticizes so harshly in public. If
>Dr. MDG  weren't so confused as to be an apologist, if Dr. TK weren't
>so sentimental, then Dr. Holloway wouldn't *have* to roast us. Dr. Holloway
>is at-risk of adopting the tactics of those whom he opposes, and in
>doing so he is at-risk of diminishing his own power to persuade.

Whu! Is it just me or has it gotten incredibly hot in here all of a 
sudden?  It truly wasn't my intention to roast, criticize, or flame 
anyone in this group and I quickly apologize to anyone (even you) if I 
inadvertently gave offense.  Maybe I was being a trifle flip, but I 
reserve that right.  If I can't keep my sense of humor I'm taking my toys 
and going elsewhere.  I certainly have no intention of flaming 

I'm really very mystified at your response.  The best explaination I can 
come up with is that we don't quite understand what the other's point is. 
We certainly seem to have a common goal.  I guess we're just experiencing 
the limitations of my write-on-the-fly ability.

As I understand it, your point is that a useful and legitimate basis for 
humane behavior toward lab animals is its effect in maintaining a healthy 
animal for study.  I would go farther and say that animals are also 
treated humanely out of compassion, though this does not, in any way, 
necessitate invoking "animal rights".  You also, correctly IMHO, identify 
the animal rights movement with other luddite movements, though I myself 
would only go so far as to say that there are obvious influences.

Now, the reason I suspect you missed my point can be found in your 
conclusion below, as well as elsewhere in your response:

>        Dr. Holloway, please re-read TK's post. TK said that Thai
>researchers identify with *lab animals* (curiously, only dogs!?!) and
>not with animal rights activism. The way he/she is doing so makes it seem,
>to me, that this is a Thai cultural or religious characteristic. I don't
>think it's fair to assume that a Western political extremist belief is
>the root of what you called "laudable sentiments."

The original post, as you'll remember, quite clearly identified "animal 
rights" as the reason for why they show compassion toward their animals.  
My point (lets see if I can screw this up again) is that one does not 
have to invoke the fairly recent doctrines of "animal rights" in order to 
have compassion toward an animal, whether its in the lab or not.  Before 
the `70s it was called animal welfare and had precious little to do with 
the doctrines of "animal rights" (even if the animal welfare extremists 
did resemble our own "animal rights" terrorists).  Used to be that you 
could be concerned about animal welfare, even feel compassion toward 
animal subjects, without being told that you did so because the animals 
themselves had rights.  How they felt about it in Thailand before the 
introduction of this "Western political extremist belief" is really not 
directly related to my point, though I understand your concern.

My point is that the language we use sets the background and borders of 
any debate (or propaganda war, whatever).  By using THEIR terms (ie. 
"animal rights"), which really means something beyond simple concern for 
animal welfare, we give them an advantage.  It sends a mixed signal to 
the public.  Its simple really: Just substitute "animal welfare" if you 
find yourself beginning to say "animal rights" when referring to proper 
treatment of lab animals.  If someone says that lab animals are treated 
humanely because of their rights, correct them.  

Most research workers, in my experience, fail to make this distinction.  
They equate all compassion toward animals with "animal rights".  Even 
people who are completely opposed to the "animal rights" movement's 
objectives will refer to humane treatment as "animal rights".  The 
situation is steadily getting worse for researchers and I decided that 
this one aspect of it is worth harping on.  Lets be clear with our terms 
people.  That's all.

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