Physicians, Heal Thyselves

In this morning’s Washington Times, the Center for Consumer Freedom takes the misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) to task for opposing medical research that requires the use of animals, even though tens of millions of people wouldn’t be alive without it. “In order for humans to live,” we write, “some animals must die. But this group has decided such a trade-off just isn’t worthwhile.”

Frightening? It gets worse. Now a violence-promoting figure from PCRM’s recent past is making waves north of the border, where the Canadian press has learned of his call for the “political assassination” of doctors who carry out this life-saving research. These guys just can’t seem to catch a break.

Last week, when we celebrated PCRM’s 20th birthday by bringing you an in-depth look at the group’s checkered history, we discussed long-time PCRM spokesman Jerry Vlasak, including his status as a “press officer” defending the actions of the terrorist Animal Liberation Front. But the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has done us one better, Click here to hear a CBC Radio report.]

This month an annual seal hunt has brought the animal-rights lunatic fringe to Canada — including Vlasak, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and even fish-boycotting activists from Humane Society of the United States. In particular, the Sea Shepherd Group, led by the self-described pirate Paul Watson, has drawn fire from Canadians. Vlasak, they are now learning, is also a Sea Shepherd board member.

Enter Elizabeth May, executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada and a member of Sea Shepherd’s “advisory board.” May is no shrinking violet when it comes to animal-rights pressure campaigns: This morning she signed her name to a PETA complaint. But May told the CBC yesterday that unless Watson gives his pal Jerry Vlasak the ol’ heave-ho, she plans to jump ship. “I’m deeply shocked,” May said. “I don’t care what somebody is doing, murder is murder … That is crossing a line that is not only irresponsible and illegal but immoral.” [Click here to hear the whole interview.]

One is left to wonder whether Elizabeth May would consider PETA’s support of the terrorist Earth Liberation Front and its frank endorsement of arson to be “crossing a line” as well. And it will be interesting to see whether May supports Paul Watson’s well-documented efforts to engineer a “takeover” of the Sierra Club in the United States. All we know for sure is that she wants Jerry Vlasak expelled from the Sea Shepherd crew.

May just might get her wish. Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson issued a public statement earlier today formally distancing his organization from Jerry Vlasak’s incendiary comments, and suggesting that Vlasak may be asked to walk the plank. “The policy of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society,” the statement reads in part, “is to expel any crewmember or field activist who commits an act of violence. Dr. Jerry Vlasak’s views will be presented to the Sea Shepherd Board of Directors so that the Board may decide on if [sic.] Dr. Vlasak should be asked to resign from the Board.

The bigger issue, though, is how animal-rights extremists like Jerry Vlasak and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine have managed to leverage the word “doctor” into serious credibility. The CBC is now reporting that Canada’s federal government may soon ban Vlasak from entering that country. (Great Britain declared him and his wife “ineligible” to enter the UK last year.) As Canadians are learning this week [click here, here, here, here, and here to see and hear additional reporting], a medical degree provides no guarantee that its holder will “do no harm.” And as we told Washington Times readers this morning, wearing a lab coat doesn’t necessarily mean that “responsible” medicine is being practiced.

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