Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Disclaimer: The above referenced article contains an unflattering photograph of vegans. The Speciesist's Corner is not responsible for any incidents of nausea, shock, fainting, nightmares, or any other medical or psychological trauma that may be incurred by you, the reader, from viewing said photograph.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Sartwell implies that we should not be making any moral distinctions in our views between dogs and cows, and that failure to do so is irrational. But this just doesn't wash. A rational person recognizes that different things that may be similar in some ways, serve different purposes. For example, a screwdriver and a chainsaw are both tools, but they serve very different purposes. A 747 and an F-16 are both aircraft, but serve very different purposes. Likewise, dogs and cows are both animals that have been domesticated by mankind for thousands of years, but again, serve very different purposes. Dogs were domesticated for the purpose of companionship, and to assist us in various tasks ranging from hunting to herding to search and rescue to assisting the disabled. Cows were domesticated for the purpose of feeding mankind, who by nature have evolved to be biological omnivores, through both meat and milk. It is a clear, entirely rational distinction that Sartwell doesn't even bother to explore. He also conveniently neglects to mention the cultural factor in this. In some cultures, such as in parts of Asia, dogs are in fact considered a food animal just as cattle are in European and North American culture.
Secondly, Sartwell fails to take into consideration the factor of gratuitous cruelty and bloodlust that are a part of dogfighting. Dogfighting serves no other purpose other than to satisfy the lust for blood, suffering, and violence of its human participants. It is complete sadism and gratuitous cruelty, and that is a big part of the reason most people find it so morally repugnant. The same cannot be said for raising and slaughtering cows for food. Cows are raised for the purpose of feeding people , not for the purpose of gratuitous cruelty and indulging in unadulterated sadism. There are admittedly parts of raising and killing animals for food that most of us know are not pleasant, but it is not on the same moral plane as dogfighting because of the differing motivations and purposes of the two. That distinction should be clear to rational people, but apparently it isn't to Mr. Sartwell.
Mr. Sartwell's column is typical of the kind of strange thinking that predominates the modern animal rights movement. It is a kind of irrational black-and-white, moral absolutist reasoning that doesn't take all factors into rational consideration, and doesn't think about the fact that most of life, including our relationship with animals, is made up of moral gray areas, and is not as black and white as they think it is. It reminds one very much of the kind of thinking found in religious fundamentalism. To say that since dogfighting is wrong, then eating cows must also be equally wrong, may be the thought that emanates from pretentious, disconnected philosophy professors in their ivory towers, but the real world just isn't that cut and dry.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
PeTA's phony medical group, Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine ( PCRM ), has no grounds to sue the City of Chandler, Arizona to stop the contruction of Covance's new facility there, according to the city attorney. PCRM's attorney claimed that this "reflects a decision by city government to exclude its citizens". Not really. Since PCRM is a Washington D.C.-based special interest group, and thus are not citizens of Chandler, it represents no such thing.
A new study coming out of the U.K. suggests that consumption of low fat dairy products may help to ward off metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In a study of 2,400 middle-aged British men, those who drank at least a pint of milk a day were 62% less likely to have metabolic syndrome than those who rarely drank milk. Don't expect to here anything about this study from PCRM or other militant vegan/AR groups.
Despite animal rights rhetoric, medical experiments in the U.K. involving animals increased by 4% in 2006, according to this report. The increase shows a use of genetically engineered animals as scientists attempt to unlock the mysteries of the human genome. Hopefully this trend will continue, as such research will be critical in understanding the genetic role of many diseases.
According to new research coming out of Australia, "battery cage hens", long one of ARA's favorite talking points, are no more stressed than their "free-range" counterparts. Scientists measured the amounts of stress-caused hormones in eggs from both caged and free range hens, and found the two to be similar. It would seem perhaps that another AR myth has bitten the dust, but don't count on AR ideologues being persuaded by science.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
AMP NEWS SPECIAL REPORT
"For the past five years our movement has become progressively more fractured over the issues of 'violence' and 'welfare vs. abolition'.
This year's National Animal Rights Convention - AR2007 - offered a clear but brief glimpse of a chasm in the movement. There's the militant faction of the animal rights movement: a small number of direct action advocates who have recently taken several body blows for their tactics and now appear to be struggling to regain their footing both internally and within the animal rights movement in general. Other activists are just as determined the priorities should rest on enhancing the movement's public image and educational outreach.
To be sure, most of the attendees of AR2007, held this year in Los Angeles, had little interest in the meeting's undercurrent of angst about tactics and priorities. Many were newcomers to the animal rights movement. Others were there to compare notes on vegan lifestyles, gain peer encouragement for their local campaigns from spay-neuter programs to getting veggie-dogs to be sold at ballparks, for their once-a-year update on the status of national campaigns, or to sell/buy specially-targeted products ranging from books on the benefits of a raw food diet to pleather stilettos.
And it is unlikely that the militant factions will have much presence at the Taking Action for Animals Conference in Washington, D.C. at the end of the month. The chief sponsor of that meeting, the Humane Society of the United States, while sharing with militants the extreme goals of the movement, is intent on showing a moderate face to the public, the main source of HSUS funding. Look for a well-packaged and managed series of "animal protection" discussions there, and emphasis on strategies for winning hearts and minds.
Given our limited resources, and in order to provide AMP News Service readers with a timely report on the flavor of the meeting and current trends in the activists' opposition to animal-based research, AMP attended only the AR2007 sessions focused on that topic, and the plenary sessions which featured some (but by no means all) of the movement's thought leaders. We also talked one-on-one with some of the key proponents of militant action.
We do not intend this to be a report on the full range of activities of the conference, but on how animal research was discussed by AR2007 participants, and to seek to learn from an unusual public display of the dynamics of the militant faction that encourages direct action and, for some, violence, as a legitimate tactic in its attempt to stop medical progress.
NEW MEETS OLD AT AR2007
Those of us who have attended the National Animal Rights Convention for years found a familiar four-day format, including multiple tracks of workshops to draw new activists further into the movement and to provide support and encouragement to veteran activists.
Added to the program this year, however, were workshops and a plenary session focused on the new Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and what the Equal Justice Alliance and other activist groups claim to be "government repression of activism." A case study of the successful prosecution and conviction of six SHAC leaders was also presented by activist and self-proclaimed 'independent journalist' Will Potter and Audra Lindsey, a longtime SHAC spokesperson.
Familiar names are on the list of those who presented a case against the use of animals in research: Michael Budkie, Camille Hankins, Matt Rosell, Andrew Knight and even Alex Pacheco, reflecting on the Silver Spring Monkeys case that launched PETA to prominence in the early 1980s. It may be more significant to note those not on the speaker's roster. Among the absentees:
The workshops that focused on campaigns against animal research relied on the old chestnuts of misrepresentations and rhetoric against research and little in the way of new content, despite the efforts of Australian Andrew Knight of Animal Consultants International to present and explain recent articles from peer-reviewed journals that he (falsely) claimed demonstrated that animal models produce invalid results. He urged activists to "maximize the impact of this new evidence" by using the articles in their media work, at conferences, with legislators, ethics committees and other audiences. "I don't think that grassroots activism, unfortunately, the way we have seen it, in a militant way, is actually going to succeed, unfortunately. I wish that it would, but I don't think it will," he said.
Knight also joined with SAEN's Michael Budkie in a video showcase entitled "Abuse of Animals for Science" that ran decades-old film distributed by PETA and other activists. One member of the audience questioned the age of the film, given dated clothing styles and that some film was shot in black and white. Budkie conceded the video dated from the 1980s and even earlier. but asserted that similar research continues today. He did have one new piece of video he said he had just obtained through a FOIA filing that showed clean and new primate social housing and enrichment - which seems to be in contradiction to Budkie's charges that primates are left to languish in solitary cages and to lose their minds from boredom. Budkie chose to fast-forward that video to make time for PETA's video on high school dissection, appropriately narrated by Alicia Silverstone, best known for her role in "Clueless."
Budkie gave basic chalk talks on how to investigate research through on-line NIH, USDA and Department of Defense databases and FOIA filings. He repeatedly stressed that every activist in the room could and should be doing such investigations of their local research institutions, and then work with SAEN to attract media coverage. "The fact that animal rights activists don't like animal research is not exactly news any more," he cautioned his listeners. He suggested that instead of focusing on protests and other stunts, media coverage is of better quality when generated through news conferences by activists with 'something significant' to report from the investigations they have conducted of grants, research protocols and other materials. "The public is concerned about the waste of tax dollars," Budkie noted. "When you add up the dollar signs, people start to listen."
At the SAEN booth in the exhibit hall, Budkie was relentless in his networking…finding out where people were from and saying, "We should talk." He told a plenary session that one of the reasons he attends the AR conventions is to find "the one activist' in a position to research a facility. He even tried to recruit this AMP correspondent, not at the time realizing the affiliation.
Like Budkie, Camille Hankins of Win Animal Rights (WAR), spoke at several workshops, focusing on the SHAC campaign and direct action, to the point of repeating several stories. She seemed to enjoy the celebrity acclaim she received from direct action supporters and revel in defiance:
Nevertheless, Hankins feels the breath of the law on her neck, and anticipates she will follow the example of her SHAC "friend and associate" Kevin Jonas. "I'm not afraid. I'm going to prison. I don't care when I go. I'll know I did it for the animals and it was worth it."
On Saturday evening, Hankins led activists to four locations in LA for protests. A fifth venue was scrubbed because of the potential for confrontation with police, she said.
STUMBLES ON THE PATHS TO ANIMAL LIBERATION
National AR Convention founder Alex Hershaft made the stark and candid comment that begins this year's report in an extraordinary panel session during Friday evening's plenary meeting attended by some 300 registrants. The session, "Paths to Animal Liberation" dramatically showed the controversy within the movement over direct action tactics.
First up was Armaiti May, a recent graduate of the UC Davis Veterinary School who wants to open her own "vegan veterinary practice." Throughout vet school, she said, some of her classmates often treated her like an outcast because of her animal rights perspective. She said the experience helped her realize that "the unfavorable image of animal activists as a whole and the actions of a few activists in particular, was making my work as an activist much more difficult than it needed to be." May took a passionate and critical look at the impact of some tactics on the public image of animal rights activists:
May called for constructive, educational outreach that focuses on long-term objectives:
Although her call for a 'perfect vegan world' that included educational outreach and nonviolent activism received applause from portions of the room, she was slapped down by subsequent speakers who received far greater audience approval. Camille Hankins of the militant Win Animal Rights group and the North American Animal Liberation Press Office (ALPO), said that her vision of a 'perfect vegan world' was "when you stand between the animals and those who would kill exploit and abuse them and you stop that killing and that exploitation and that abuse." She continued:
Alex Hershaft, the AR2007 organizer, called the differences "a chasm" in the movement, but nevertheless sought to find common ground:
Hardly. With his next breath, Hershaft raised the conflict between abolitionists and welfarists, coming down on the side of abolitionists, noting that while no reputable abolitionist leader would oppose welfare reforms, "what we do oppose are animal rights activists who advocate welfare reforms. It wastes animal resources and legitimizes animal exploitation."
Lest there be any confusion where Hershaft comes down on militant tactics, he answered that firmly:
On Monday, following a morning of lessons in lobbying, California activists will go to the local offices of Senator Dianne Feinstein and several area Representatives to push for the repeal of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. SAEN's Michael Budkie will lead others on a protest against research at UCLA.
Obviously, much more information and insight was revealed at the AR2007 conference. Additional material will appear in AMP's subsequent reports, including the AMP News Service Digest and our coverage of the Taking Action for Animals meeting in Washington later this month.
Please feel free to distribute this report, keeping our contact information intact. As always, AMP's key contacts are welcome to be in touch for additional details.
Americans for Medical Progress
908 King Street Suite 301
Alexandria VA 22314
703 836 9595 firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, July 21, 2007
- The law, specifically in the U.S., the Animal Welfare Act, outlines specific legal standards of care for research animals that must be adhered to.
- According to USDA records, 94% of research animals suffer no pain at all, only mild discomfort such as injections or blood draws, or are given anesthesia.
- Virtually all animals used in research are eventually humanely euthanized using the method approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
To the rational, thinking individual, none of this adds up to "torturing animals to death". Vlasak's lies and his hyperbolic, vile, misanthropic rhetoric once again speak for themselves.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Although I agree with PeTA in principle here, I must call them out on some of the tactics they are using. Here is PeTA's coverage of today's protest. Take a look at the very last picture with the little girl. Why does it seem like time and time again, when PeTA, as well as other attention-starved AR organizations, see the cameras rolling, they feel the need to drag kids into it? Why the incessant need to exploit kids in this way? Adults, say whatever you want, but leave your kids out of these kinds of issues for God's sake. Children cannot give informed, rational consent to be involved in protests about what are very difficult, ADULT issues. They are not your ideological pawns, and it reeks of irresponsible parenting to use them as such.
I would also like to direct the reader to PeTA's official statement on this issue. Notice this particular phrase: "celebrity is not sufficient excuse for breaking the law". A true enough statement with which I agree, but considering it's source, it seems to ring rather hollow. This is the same organization that contributed a total of $70,000 to convicted AR arsonist Rod Coronado. This is the same organization many of whose leaders are on record as using inflammatory rhetoric condoning violence or criminal activity against those with whom they disagree. This is the same organization who had two of its employees convicted of littering charges for illegally disposing of dead animal carcasses, that they themselves had just killed, in a dumpster behind a grocery store. This is the same organization that on its youth oriented website, PeTA2, posted personal information about a furrier, opening him up to harassment or worse, and in the same post, encouraged vandalism of traffic signs. Celebrity certainly is not an excuse for breaking the law, but neither is personal ideology. For PeTA to pontificate about law breaking, while they themselves have a track record of breaking it themselves, supporting those who do, and encouraging others to break it, is the height of hypocrisy.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Thursday, July 5, 2007
First, some news from across the big pond that puts a smile on my face. The radical criminal AR group known has Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty ( SHAC ) has been denied a permit to solicit street donations on soccer match days. Police cited the fact that SHAC is a criminal organization that has been cited for 2,888 criminal incidents including blackmail by the leadership, harassment, improvised explosive devices, and property damage. Additionally, according to the report, SHAC's representative, Eileen Kinghorn, had not been truthful on the groups application for a solicitation permit, making the untrue statement that the group had never been investigated by police before. When one considers the breadth of SHAC's criminal activities, it certainly shouldn't come as any surprise that would have no qualms about lying on an application. That's choir boy stuff for a group like SHAC. Kudos to the Sunderland City Council for shutting out these thugs.
Also from the UK, there have been fewer protests and attacks at the homes of researchers and scientists. Police there report that AR criminal activity has declined in big way since they began a crackdown on AR-related crimes. A sweep of AR extremists in May netted 12 people so far being charged with AR extremism-related crimes. There's nothing quite like old-fashioned, hard-nosed, vigorous law enforcement to take a bite out of criminal activity.
Back over here in the good old U.S. of A., there is some refreshing news coming out of the Sunshine State. It appears that Florida is considering putting the inane "pregnant pig" amendment to the state constitution back to the voters for a possible repeal. Lawmakers want to convince the public of the negative economic impacts of the amendment, which bans the use of "gestation crates" for pregnant and nursing sows in hopes of possibly getting the amendment overturned. The amendment was passed in 2002 and backed by animal rights groups. This is good news considering that the campaign to get the amendment passed was an exercise in corruption by powerful out of state AR lobbies. The New-York based AR group Farm Sanctuary was fined $50,000 after being convicted of 210 counts of campaign finance fraud regarding the ballot initiative. Why no one from Farm Sanctuary went to jail for this kind of fraud, and why the election wasn't declared null and void because of such cheating, is beyond me, but hopefully soon, the damage might just get undone.
Finally, coming out of Arizona, is this news that the grossly misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a PeTA front group posing as a legitimate medical group, is suing the city of Chandler to stop the construction of a new lab facility owned by Covance, a research company that conducts animal testing. The city plans to fight the lawsuit, claiming it is without merit. What is surprising here is not that PCRM, a national group, would stick their noses into a local political matter, nor that they would resort to filing what is probably a frivolous lawsuit to get their way. What is surprising, and refreshing, is the very title of this article. It comes out and calls PCRM exactly what they are with no bones about it: an animal rights group. Kudos to the newspaper and the reporter for calling PCRM exactly what they are.
For some reason a couple of the links didn't take, so here they are:
Florida "pregnant pig" amendment story
Farm Sanctuary election fraud