The Animal Research War

Our bookshelves overflow with volumes about obesity, animal welfare, crop biotechnology, seafood politics, and the latest veal saltimbocca recipes. But every once in a while, a title comes along whose importance warrants a shout from the rooftops. In The Animal Research War, Dr. Michael Conn and James Parker make a powerful case that the animal “rights” movement has declared moral bankruptcy by personally and viciously targeting medical researchers whose work requires the use of animals. It’s a compelling read. We recommend buying a copy for anyone you know who financially supports People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the Humane Society of the United States, or any other like-minded group of radicals.
Dr. Conn writes of the first big lesson he learned about the animal rights movement:

“[S]ome animal rightists misrepresent animal research and do so with impunity. Apparently they believe that they serve a cause greater than the truth. ‘Heavenly deception’ is what some cult groups in the late 1960s called it.”

And then there’s the whole issue of violence, harassment, and intimidation. This book has got it in spades, from the point of view of the victim.

“Were my harassers terrorists? It’s your call, but remember that their actions were designed to coerce me by the threat of violence. Of course, some animal extremists might say, ‘We don’t use violence. We demonstrate and destroy property, but we never injure or kill persons.’ What are we to think of that?
“Maybe we should ask four Oregon National Primate Research Center scientists who received letters armed with razor blades set to cut the hand of the opener. Would they think of that as violence? …
“Or maybe we should ask the scientist at another university who has been warned that his children’s pictures would be put up on the Internet—they would be made hostages, in other words—until he stops research on animals. Surely he experiences this as a violent threat.”

Throughout this very readable book, Conn and Parker explore the beginnings of the animal rights movement; the histories of a few of its most radical practitioners; its cross-pollinations with the environmental movement; and the real, measurable cost it has levied on the modern world. This is a war with real casualties: careers ruined, scientific knowledge lost, lives shortened.
While we tend to focus on misguided animal activists’ food agenda, their plan to hamstring global scientific research on behalf of mice and monkeys is doubly frightening. But here’s the rub: Anyone who would slow down (or even halt) progress toward AIDS and cancer cures clearly doesn’t care if we live or die—and therefore doesn’t deserve any sort of voice in what we eat or wear.
Read this book. Share it with a friend. Better yet, strike a blow for consumer freedom and buy a copy for your local library.

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