Posts Tagged ‘animal rights’

PETA and President Obama

19 June 2009

After President Barack Obama killed a fly during a TV interview, some media outlets contacted PETA to get their reaction. It wasn’t like somebody at PETA’s offices saw Obama kill the fly and said “OMFG!!!!”. No, several media companies actually thought that there was a story there and contacted PETA.

You can read PETA’s side of the issue here and here.

I immediately smelled a rat when I read those blogposts from PETA. It’s almost as if somebody – or a group of somebodies – is looking for anything and everything that they can use against Barack Obama and the fly-killing was just convenient. I’m guessing that if they can get PETA and other animal rights groups pissed-off enough at Obama, then they can look forward to Obama facing some kind of backlash from animal rights advocates.

But, seriously, who the fuck is going to march a picket line in support of flies’ right to life? Who the flying fuck is going to call Barack Obama “the Fly-Killer in-Chief”?

Honestly, who cares about flies? Not me and I doubt if most people do. I will grant that there are some Buddhists and Jains who do value all life, even that of insects. So, I could see if they might be upset. But, to most people on Planet Earth, flies are an annoying, disease-carrying pest that most of us kill at every opportunity that presents itself.

You could improve the standard of living in much of the Third World by passing-out free bug-zappers. Flies carry numerous diseases and, with more flies being killed, fewer people would get contract the diseases that those things carry.

This whole thing is Much Ado About Nothing. PETA isn’t going to picket the President or stage mass rallies in support of insect rights. It was most likely a bunch of right-wing media types trying to stir-up some shit that didn’t deserve being stirred-up.

However, I would like to piss-off Insect Rights supporters by publicly calling for everyone who reads this to vow to kill, at least, one fly everyday. You may also substitute a cockroach or similar insect. Please do not kill ladybugs, because they eat various insects that pester humans, so ladybugs are our friends.

In lieu of flies or cockroaches or for extra points, you may also slaughter centipedes, milipedes, venomous spiders (not the daddy longlegs) and scorpions. These are not insects, but they can be considered targets of opportunity.

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Militant Veganism

4 May 2009

In case people think, due to my last post, that I am somehow opposed to protecting animals from cruel treatment: I am fully in support of laws to protect animals from cruel treatment by humans.

Partly, I support such laws because when people are cruel to animals, they tend to extend that behavior to other people. Some one who beats their dog or cat is probably going to take a swing at me if I get them mad enough and they are more likely to take that swing if they have a history of animal abuse.

Furthermore, I support protecting animals from abuse because it is a mark of civilized behavior for people to be concerned for the welfare of animals over whom they have power. The more humane we are to animals, the better people we are as a whole.

Some people take that a step further and become vegetarians or even vegans, feeling that it is immoral to kill animals for food. That’s fine with me. But, I have a problem with people for whom their vegetarianism or veganism is some kind of fucking religion and that all meat-eaters (actually, omnivores) are immoral, evil scum because we eat animal flesh. I used to hangout at a local store that caters to vegans and I would hear the daily rants against the eating of meat. It seemed that becoming a vegetarian/vegan was like a religion, with its own group of fundamentalists out to spread the word even to those who didn’t wish to hear it. Instead of the “you’re going to Hell” argument, I’d hear the “you’re murdering innocent animals” argument, which did nothing to convince me, though it might have convinced some.

Most people don’t like the idea that we are being cruel to the helpless, especially animals and most Americans have never killed an animal that they would go on to eat later. One of my earliest memories was seeing my uncle slaughter a rabbit for the family dinner to be held later that night. I didn’t eat any rabbit, but I don’t remember if it was because of personal choice or because there simply wasn’t enough to go around.

One YouTube user who engaged in the “meat-eaters are evil” tirade is a young man named Onision. For awhile, his videos consisted of the omnivore-bashing that I had heard years ago, so I took little interest in his channel and didn’t watch more than a few of his videos. Other users took exception to his rants and released videos of their own. I understand that Onision even engaged in a bit of DMCA filing against users he felt had illegally copied portions of his videos, despite such actions being covered by Fair Use. I am not aware of the outcome of these filings, having taken little interest in it. Later, Onision admitted that he was an actor and that he had been playing a role. Being a YouTube Partner, he made money as his videos got more views. A good way to generate publicity for himself and make a buck. But, his latest video consists of him whining that he is receiving hate mail from other users, as well as his still  being the subject of videos made by other users.

Oh, and he’s also upset that people are mispronouncing his name. Whatever.

Kind of hard to put the genie back in the bottle, Onision. You wanted all the publicity and now you have it. Deal with it and stop whining.

A bit more radical than simple YouTUbe rants are the animal libertation groups, like Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and Earth Liberation Front (ELF) both of whom have found themselves on lists of extremist organizations compiled by law enforcement agencies, including the FBI here in the United States. Both encourage people to become vegans, I guess because raising cows for milk and chickens for eggs somehow counts as enslavement. I wonder what these cows and chickens would be doing if people didn’t at least need them around for that.

Both ALF and ELF have websites where the latest “Direct Actions” against people and companies that are seen as exploiting animals or harming the environment are featured. ANything from simple vandalism to outright arson get mentioned without the slighest hint of condemnation from the webhosts. Despite the fact that no person is usually harmed by their actions doesn’t remove the fact that property was destroyed and people have, in fact, been threatened with serious bodily harm.

One of the most obvious cases of a radical animal rights group being their own worst enemy is the case of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) whose primary target is Huntington Life Sciences, which is a contract animal-testing company founded in 1952 in England, now with facilities in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire and Eye, Suffolk in the UK; New Jersey in the U.S.; and in Japan.  HLS is the largest such commercial operation in Europe and conducts tests on around 75,000 animals every year — including rats, rabbits, pigs, dogs, and primates — testing pharmaceutical products, agricultural chemicals, industrial chemicals, and foodstuffs on behalf of private clients worldwide.  SHAC was successful in getting HLS’ bank accounts closed and their listing removed from both the London and New York Stock Exchanges. In fact, they nearly drove HLS out of business.

But, SHAC went too far. Too far by a longshot. They engaged in threats against people who either worked for HLS or did business with them in some fashion, such as HLS’s business partners, their business partners, insurers, caterers, cleaners, children’s nursery schools, and office suppliers. There was even a letter-writing campaign where an employee of a company that did business with HLS was targeted in a campaign where eight hundred letters were sent to his neighbors accusing him of being a pedophile, the police had to assure his neighbors that the accusations were false. Threats, intimidation, vandalism or vehicles and property became their modus operandi and Huntington Life Sciences found itself having to move to the United States and takeout high-interest loans to stay in business. Actions against HLS became even more violent with physical assaults on the persons of HLS staff. Huntington Life Sciences’ marketing director Andrew Gay was attacked on his doorstep with a chemical spray to his eyes which left him temporarily blinded!

Then came Operation Achilles, where much of SHAC’s leadership was arrested, tried, convicted and imprisioned. HLS was able to move back to the UK and the majority of the attacks against them have ceased.

But, even without the threats, vandalism, etc. SHAC almost won! They almost drove HLS out of business, which is what they wanted. It was only because they decided to act like a bunch of badasses that the police cracked down on them and imprisoned their leadership. If they had stuck with legal protests, undercover investigations and whistleblowing, SHAC could have triumphed over HLS anyway. But, as I said, they shot themselves in the foot when they began to think they were all clones of Che Guevara or something and took their campaign in a direction where it had no business going.

Now, Huntington Life Sciences is back in the UK and rebuilding itself. Naturally, they are likely very exhausted from all of this and it will take them time to recover fully, but that will come in time.

Okay, so what would have happened if Huntington had gone out of business? Would animal experimentation have ceased?

Nope. It would have simply moved overseas to a country where animal protection laws are not as strict or which may not even exist.

You see, animal experimentation is a vital part of medical research. It has led to vast improvements of medical care for people, including the polio vaccine, insulin, tuberculosis medicines and so on.

Common medical procedures that we take for granted today were pioneered with animal research before they were tried on people, such as blood transfusions were first tried on dogs and penicillin was tried on mice. These are just a few examples of animal research leading to important medical benefits for humans.

We all see the films put out by animal rights activists that show dogs and cats being used as lab animals. But, the fact is that dogs, cats and primates amount for 1% of all lab animals, with the rest consisting of rats, mice, rabbits and guinea pigs which are not endangered species by any means and their species will certainly survive a small percentage being used for animal research.

In the USA, we eat more ducks every year than the total number of animals used in research. As we also consume more chickens, cattle and pigs than even the highest estimate of the number of total animals of all species used for research purposes. The United States has the most stringent requirements for animal research than nay country in the world. You just can’t go and start injecting animals with pharmaceuticals because you feel like experimenting. You have to get approval and there are also strict requirements for the quality of life for the animal while it is being used for these experiments. An animal that is uder a great deal of stress due to pain will not provide good data for a medicine’s effectiveness, so researchers must not subject the animal to more discomfort than is absolutely neccessary for the experiments. Violations of the law can result in research grant money being withdrawn and there can be civil and criminal liability involved for the persons responsible. This is why I am not opposed to groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) engaging in undercover investigations to expose violations of the law to the public and the media.  Adherance to the law results in better research, which leads to more accurate data, which leads to improved benefits for people.

While there are other ways to do research on pharmaceuticals (e.g. in vitro testing, MRI scanning, computer modeling and micro-dosing) these are supplementary to animal research and they do have their limitations. They cannot completely replace animal testing, no matter how much we wish they could. If people think that animal testing is less expensive financially than the alternatives I mentioned, then you’re wrong. Animal testing is far more expensive, time-consuming and heavily-regulated than the supplementary methods, so there is no way for medical researchers to save money by experimenting on animals. It would be cheaper if the other methods were as effective as animal testing, but they are not.

There are between 25 to 26 million animals of all species being used for animal research in the USA, which is a drop in the ocean compared to the sheer number of animals killed for food. If animal rights people wanted to save the most amount of animals, they’d be trying to get the rest of us to become vegetarians or vegans. But, there’s not much chance of that, so they go for what is a far easier target, one that they can easily pull the heartstrings of otherwise intelligent people to support them.

Here’s a video that you can have a look at to get a better understanding of the issue. The speaker is Tom Holder, spokesman of Speaking of Research, who was a key member of the UK movement “Pro-Test”, which helped win the British public over on the issue of animal testing. In this video, Mr Holder challenges some of the misinformation that is spread around by animal rights groups on the subject of vivisection. The presentation was filmed at a Speaking of Research talk at Oregon Health & Sciences University.

I am all in favor of private groups and individuals whistleblowing on researchers that abuse the animals under their care, as was done to HLS by SHAC in the early part of their campaign. Groups like PETA have done much good in this country by exposing animal abusers, who can then be prosecuted under the law. Naming and Shaming animal abusers with accurate information does the most good for animals and for the people the research will benefit.

Of course, PETA wouldn’t go for the idea of animal testing continueing, having “Until All the Cages are Empty” as a slogan. But, you’d think that they’d be more understanding, since former PETA Vice President, Mary-Beth Sweetland, is a diabetic who injects herself daily with insulin—a treatment tested and perfected in animals. She admitted her treatment still contains some animal products, but it’s okay – for her – because using these animal products helps her stay alive to help more animals. Naturally, she doesn’t see herself as a hypocrite, which is what I think she is. I mean, if it’s not okay to experiment on animals or use animals for medical purposes to benefit humans, then it should mean any humans, especially people who are trying to stop animal research.

Is it just me or is there a bit of “Do as I say, not as I do” going-on here?

Still, Ms Sweetland does claim that she uses less insulin today since she adopted a vegan diet. So, she has to have fewer dead animals on her conscience.

I do have to give my support to PETA for their campaign against animal abuse in circuses. Their investigative work did unearth horrific treatment of circus animals. But, I think that abusers should be punished, without the need or goal to close-down circuses around the country. If a circus cannot train their animals without torturing them, then the circus owners should quit the business.

Let me boil it down for you: with laws in-place to protect animals from abuse, those laws should be enforced and transgressors punished. If an animal at a research lab, at a circus, on a farm or in some one’s home is the victim of abuse, then the abuser should be Named & Shamed,  brought to justice and punished under the law.

It is not the place or the right of groups like PETA, ALF, ELF, Sea Shepherd, SHAC or any other organization to take the law into their own hands and act as judge, jury and executioner. A civilized society cannot function any other way. It is groups like these that give vegans a bad name.

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