Opinion

Animals think they’re pretty smart

PetsHealthMedicinePoliticsDemonstrationActivismUCLA

The North American Animal Liberation Press Office is a legal, above-ground organization that receives, clarifies and releases to the media the anonymous communiques received by underground activists who carry out illegal direct actions in defense of animals exploited and abused by individual and industry profiteers. The NAALPO is unaware of the identities of these activists and cannot predict or control when, where, how or whether they will strike. One might say that we speak for those who cannot — and for those who dare not.

Vivisection is simultaneously an animal rights and a human rights issue. Contrary to Edythe London's claim in her recent Op-Ed article "Why I use laboratory animals," testing treatments on animals and applying the results to humans is the greatest confounding variable of all! Data from one species cannot be extrapolated to another with more than 5% to 25% accuracy (note that simply flipping a coin would yield 50%) and that explains why no cures come down the pike for decades. It underlies the multiple thousands of consumer injuries and deaths every year from adverse reactions to drugs tested "safe" in animals and, conversely, causes potentially beneficial drugs tested "unsafe" to be discarded. Vivisection accomplishes nothing more than to gratuitously torture animals and retard true advancement in human medicine. In sum, it is both immoral and scientifically fraudulent.

UCLA squanders hundreds of millions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to turn monkeys into tweakers while drug rehabilitation centers founder for lack of funds. Addiction is an area of inquiry that should lend itself admirably to human clinical studies. To understand substance abuse, investigators must examine and address the psychological, sociological, economic, political and other demographic parameters underlying a uniquely human inclination. Animals in the wild do not volitionally intoxicate themselves with psychotropic chemicals — and those in labs forced into artificially-induced dependence cannot communicate their experiences. Imagine the benefit to society by intervening through education and counseling before the prospective addict makes the fateful decision to try a drug. Some of the millions awarded to UCLA to hook primates might be redirected toward those more laudable endeavors.

While I have no love for the tobacco industry, I have to point out that smoking is completely elective. We have known for years that smoking induces chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and lung cancer, yet we are unwilling to accept personal accountability for conditions that are unequivocally the result of our own unwise behavior. Cardiovascular disease, cancer and stroke are all on the rise. While a certain percentage may be due to heritable factors, much, if not most, is undoubtedly the consequence of eating animals. Our dentition, salivary and stomach acid composition and intestinal anatomy were designed for the ingestion of plants. Our air, water and soil are saturated with contaminants, yet the vivisectionists continue to hoodwink the gullible public into believing that we have to torture animals to find cures for ailments that can be mitigated or averted with more appropriate lifestyle choices and better environmental stewardship.

As a Jew, I cannot comprehend how someone who claims to be the child of Holocaust survivors can participate in a holocaust against other sentient beings. With London's reported background in psychiatry, she should be fully cognizant that animal abuse is the hallmark symptom of psychopathology.

History strives repeatedly to teach us lessons that we stubbornly refuse to learn. In order to achieve its objectives, every social justice movement has ultimately had to resort to violence against the oppressors or their property. When legitimate grievances go consistently unheard, the attendant frustration expresses itself with escalating vehemence. The Sons of Liberty tossed 300 chests of British tea into the Boston harbor. The suffragettes employed arson. It took a civil war to end slavery and a world war to dismantle the Nazi concentration camps.

The Animal Liberation Front adheres to a nonnegotiable policy that no life, human or animal, be harmed during an action. It seeks to liberate animals directly from the clutches of their abusers or engage in economic sabotage against those abusers. The purpose of the former is self-explanatory; the motivation for the latter is the unfortunate recognition that it is the only means to engage with those whose cognitive and empathic shortfalls render them otherwise unreachable.

Activists who risk life, limb and liberty to stand up for sentient beings who cannot speak or act in their own behalf are unsung heroes and must endure the barbs of others who lack courage and moral fortitude. But they know the animals have it much worse, and that realization impels them to continue the battle for creatures whom society would arbitrarily place outside the circle of moral compassion and beyond the reach of effective defense.

Lindy Greene is the North American Animal Liberation press officer.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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