Again, at UCLA, a researcher has become the target of violence at the hands of animal rights activists.
From the Los Angeles Times:
The FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the firebombing of a vehicle owned by a UCLA neuroscientist who was targeted by an anti-animal research group for using primates in his study of psychiatric disorders.
The March 7 incident involving a homemade incendiary device took place outside the faculty member's home and caused no injuries, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. ...
Eimiller said the investigation of last Saturday's incident will be conducted by a Joint Terrorism Task Force that includes the FBI, the LAPD, the Los Angeles Fire Department, the UCLA Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives.
The loosely organized animal rights group Animal Liberation Front posted a message on its website Monday from a group that claimed responsibility for the firebombing.
From the UCLA Newsroom:
Chancellor Gene Block strongly condemned the firebombing, the latest incident in an organized campaign of criminal harassment directed at UCLA researchers.
"The actions of extremists who use violent and illegal tactics are utterly reprehensible and beyond contempt," Block said. "UCLA police continue to work with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to bring to justice those responsible for such unconscionable acts, and I encourage anyone with information to come forward."
UCLA immediately increased the reward it is offering by $25,000. UCLA, the FBI, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Los Angeles police and fire departments are now offering a combined $445,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for five separate acts of violence directed at UCLA researchers.
In a March 9 website posting, extremists claimed to have placed an improvised incendiary device under the vehicle outside the Westside residence of a UCLA researcher. The vehicle was engulfed in flames and destroyed. There were no injuries. The incident occurred in the early morning hours of March 7. The vehicle was owned by a UCLA professor and neuroscientist investigating treatments for various psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, as well as drug addiction and other disorders.
The FBI is leading the investigation and can be reached at 310-477-6565.
This is not an isolated incident. That it is, instead, the kind of thing that happens with alarming regularity is indicated by the fact that the UCLA Newsroom has a "background information" page about animal research at UCLA, allowing easy linking the next time an animal rights group targets a researcher (or someone who lives or parks near a researcher) for violence. From that background information page:
Research involving laboratory animals at UCLA is heavily monitored and subject to stringent and multiple federal laws and university regulations. All requests to utilize animals in research undergo a rigorous review by an independent committee of well-informed scientists, veterinarians and members of the general public to ensure scientific necessity and humane treatment. The review requires an extensive search for alternatives to minimize the use of animals.
For several years, UCLA researchers and administrators have been subjected to an organized campaign of harassment intended to halt the use of all animals in research. This has included the firebombing of a UCLA commuter van, the placing of incendiary devices on the doorsteps of private residences and under vehicles, vandalism, and threatening phone calls and e-mails. UCLA police and the FBI are investigating some of these as acts of domestic terrorism. In addition, anonymous anti-animal research extremists have made multiple unfounded claims of sabotage. ...
UCLA condemns in the strongest possible terms the deplorable tactics utilized by anti-animal research extremists. Violence and threats are not free speech.
(Bold emphasis added.)
Clearly, we need to be calling the thugs perpetrating these attacks nonhuman-animal rights activists. After all, they view well-monitored use of animals in experiments designed to minimize their distress and discomfort as an abomination, but apparently they would have no problem with a human being consumed in a fiery explosion.
And where were the animal rights groups like PETA and PCRM who claim they don't condone violence? Are they helping the FBI and the BATF to find the animal rights extremists who are planting incendiary devices? Are they taking other steps to prevent violence from being used to "further" their argument against the use of animals in research?
If they are, it's not terribly visible. And that's a problem.
As a philosophical position, the case for animal rights is not completely empty or indefensible. However, as it's being propagated "in the wild", as it were, the case for animal rights is being made with lies and intimidation. Among rational people, this is a bad way to make a case for your position. Thus, it seems to me, people arguing in good faith for the animal rights position need to address the violence and the lies head on, not just disavowing them, but taking serious steps to counter them.
But as long as researchers who are doing research with animals that is legal and also designed to be as humane as possible are made the targets of violent attacks of people who say they are fighting for animal rights, we can't have a serious conversation about animal rights.