14 July 2011

Animal liberation extremists launch intimidation campaign against biomed students

Via OSU's "On Research" blog:
The campaign, spurred by an activist website called Negotiation Is Over, urged its followers to attack.

Students, the website said, are “infinitely more susceptible to negative and inflammatory publicity,” and  that “when education fails, smear campaigns can be highly effective.  Abusers [meaning science students involved in animal research] have forfeited all rights to privacy and peace of mind.

Led by activist Camille Marino in Florida, this proposed attack on students seeking an education, and possibly a career, in the sciences was broadly seen as stepping over the line.  While activists have destroyed property, harassed scientists and businesses and proposed violence for years, targeting students in this way somehow seemed worse.
NiO is encouraging like-minded vigilantes to target students of biomedical sciences, what the site's author describes as "the soft underbelly" of the "animal abuse industry".  They've been passing out handbills on university campuses across the country enticing cash-strapped undergrads to spy on biomed students and help NiO assemble dossiers on these "soft targets", presumably to post this information on their blog for every ecoterrorist in the world to see.

NiO paints a sordid picture of scientists who experiment on animals; they're portrayed as sadistic Dr. Mengele cutouts, willfully foregoing other types of testing (examples?) in order to torture animals for profit (?).  Marino and her site's commenters talk about animal researchers like they're nonpersons, fair game for all manner of retaliation for their "crimes".
If you are willing to give that eyesore of a blog the time of day, you'll notice that many posts speak in the passive voice about the unfortunate things that befall animal researchers; they may receive threats, their families may be harassed, their homes may be vandalized, and so forth.  Their site logo, featuring a masked and hooded figure holding a lit match, is cleverly suggestive of arson.

In reality, they're implicitly advocating far worse than "smear campaigns", but the lawyer who runs the organization is very careful about her wording to avoid actually committing a crime herself.  Marino can disavow all responsibility for any nutcase who reads her site and then feels inspired to go burn down a grad student's home.

These people are using the same inflammatory rhetoric displayed by anti-abortion extremists about abortion doctors and by radical Islamists about blasphemers.  If I were a biomed student, I know I'd be taking Krav Maga classes and applying for a CCW license right about now.

I'd be happy to see experimentation on live animals come to an end when it's replaced by a better system.  Until then, I have no ethical objection to it if the research is saving human lives.

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Creative Commons License