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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Anti-Human Animal Rightists Ruin Research



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Animal rights = anti-humanism. I am not referring to supporters of animal welfare, too often conflated with “animal rights.” The former accepts human exceptionalism, the propriety of using animals for food and in necessary experimentation, while properly imposing a duty upon us to treat animals humanely. There is much room therein for argument about what the standards should be, but the fundamentals are sound. 

Animal rights, in contrast, is an ideology that sees humans and animals as morally equal. As I explained in A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy, animal rights activists believe the ability to suffer accords moral value, and that means what is done to animals should be judged as if the same things were done to people. Hence, cattle ranching is slavery. Understand: They mean that literally, and their ultimate goal is an end to all animal husbandry, no matter the human harm thereby caused.

Which is why animal research is the bulls eye on the animal rights target of subversion–no matter how much knowledge researchers derive or human (and animal) suffering that their work ameliorates–and no matter the diseases that animal research helped cure, as in polio, or identify, as in SARS. Monkey experiments, as I wrote, were the necessary prelude to a tremendously successful treatment or the effects of stroke and cerebral palsy. But the animal rightists don’t care. They only care about “those who can’t speak for themselves.”

This fanaticism leads to violence on occasion. More often, attacks on labs to destroy the fruits of experimentation. For example, fanatics in Italy recently invaded a research lab and destroyed the experiments. From the Nature story:

Activists occupied an animal facility at the University of Milan, Italy, at the weekend, releasing mice and rabbits and mixing up cage labels to confuse experimental protocols. Researchers at the university say that it will take years to recover their work. Many of the animals at the facility are genetic models for psychiatric disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.

The irony here is that by destroying the experiments, the animal “sacrifice”–for those who would use the term–is rendered meaningless by destroying the fruits already gained from the research. It will also mean more mice and lab animals will have to be used as the colony is rebuilt. Not only that, but the “liberation” has doomed some of the animals:

Some of the mice they removed were delicate mutants and immunosuppressed “nude” mice, which die very quickly outside controlled environments.

Their answer to the harm they are causing the animals, is that it is better for the animals to die now than suffer later.

Perhaps worse, the rightists named the names of experimenters on Facebook for later use in threats of violence–or actual attacks–on researchers: The threat to researchers from the Brown Shirt thugs is real.For example, in Santa Cruz a few years ago, a researcher’s house was fire bombed after her face was put on a wanted poster. She lamented that she was using trying to cure breast cancer. That sound you heard was me yelling, “They don’t care about the women with cancer, they care about the mice!”

Suffering humans could be materially harmed by the rightists’ slowing down or stopping the material benefit to be gained from the research. There is zero compassion in that. But that’s the animal rights movement for you: subversion, anti-humanism, and nihilistic romanticism coming and going. 



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