Activists targetting students with violence
I tend to be wary of activists. To me, an activist is someone who has taken it upon themselves to support a particular opinion, regardless of that opinion’s status as right or wrong opinion (which is to say its truth value). This leads to a turbulent relationship with fact that may involve everything from cherry picking ideas to outright denialism, and generally makes for a very “fair-weather friend” relationship between opinion and (my personal tool of the trade) reason. Now, many activists can and do behave responsibly and rationally and they have my greatest respect (another tip of my hat to the intelligent and thoughtful feminists over at Fishnet Bluestockings, they are on my blogroll for a reason), but I find that it pays to be on my guard against those that don’t. Which is why I employ the following guidelines with activists:
- You are entitled to your opinion and the expression of that opinion in the appropriate forums and manner. To give you any less than that would be a violation of your rights and my moral code.
- Do not confuse an opinion with an argument. Don’t expect to persuade without evidence or reason, it will get you ignored.
- Attempts to persuade through lies & half-truths, the propagation of misinformation, shame or peer pressure, or any other end-run around mutual respect and properly formulated argumentation will get you ridiculed.
- Resorts to threats and violence will get you watched, reported, arrested, and (in the most regrettable cases) hurt.
I feel the need to bring this up today, since there is a group out to threaten, harass, and possibly attempt to kill me and my fellow students (as if a bisexual, transgendered person doesn’t have enough animosity directed towards her/him already). Negotiation is Over is a hate group directed at researchers in the life sciences. They call themselves animal rights activists, but they seem much more interested in attacking researchers than saving animals. And now they have specifically turned their gaze on students as they announced yesterday:
Every time a vivisector’s car or home — and, eventually, the abuser him/herself — blows up, flames of liberation light up the sky.
When we attack professors, we can only expect limited gains. They are deeply entrenched in the holocaust, have vested financial interests, and enjoy a network of support and protection. Students, however, have no round-the-clock police protection, no access to the FBI, and no access to legislators. The weakest link in the chain is the student body. Vivisectors-in-training can be shut down with relative ease.
Students also need to understand that making the wrong choice will result in a lifetime of grief. Aspiring scientists envision curing cancer at the Mayo Clinic. We need to impart a new vision: car bombs, 24/7 security cameras, embarrassing home demonstrations, threats, injuries, and fear. And, of course, these students need to realize that any personal risk they are willing to assume will also be visited upon their parents, children, and nearest & dearest loved ones. The time to reconsider is now.
It goes on like that for quite some time, with a lovely picture of a firebombed car just to make sure there can be no ambiguity about what they are advocating. As an added bonus their site has links to state by state directories of research universities they consider offenders via their “Animal Abuse Crime Database”. Guess whose uni is on their list?
But I’m not afraid of these creeps, and I urge you not to be either. Stay safe, don’t let them get to you, and promptly report any threats. These people are terrorists, and terrorists like to cause terror. So don’t give them the satisfaction. And if you have a forum for it, I hope you will speak out and let them know that their tactics are impotent. In time they will try to do something stupid and get arrested/shut down, or they will tire of their game. Either way, the wanna-be scary monsters will be stuffed back under the bed and we can get on with the business of saving lives.
Now, my opinions on the morality of animal research are complex, and I will talk about them in a later post and hopefully be able to present a rational basis for them. But my opinions on this issue are stark: this is unacceptable. Even if you personally find animal research reprehensible and feel that making transgenic mice is on par with Tuskegee, realize that this sort of behavior is not the way to go about effecting a change.
Violence remains the last refuge of the deluded and incompetent.