Humane Watch puts lawyers in cages

In a brilliant parody of the HSUS shelter ads, humane watch has put sad looking lawyers in cages to emphasize that donations to HSUS do not fund shelters.

HSUS is like PETA but with deodorant and suits. Hah! I love it. HSUS is PETA.

It’s upsetting that this fake charity has co-opted the reputation of our local humane societies, used ads depicting suffering animals in cages, then taken in millions of dollars from well meaning people to lobby for animal rights causes. Every time I see their ads I get furious. Less than 1% of their take goes to shelters. HSUS is not a humane society at all, it’s an animal rights lobbying group.

Jennifer Lawrence channels Katniss, says "Screw PETA"

In it’s increasingly bizarre need to inflict it’s animal rights morality on everybody, PETA’s Ingrid Newkirk has criticized Jennifer Lawrence for scenes in Winter’s Bone and the Hunger Games, which show her hunting and eating animals.

The actress was dubbed “the coolest chick in Hollywood” by Rolling Stone, and in the magazine’s latest issue she recounts her on-screen squirrel-skinning scene in the 2010 movie “Winter’s Bone.”

“I should say it wasn’t real, for PETA. But screw PETA,” she told the magazine.

In response to the actress’s comment, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk told Gothamist, “[Lawrence] is young and the plight of animals somehow hasn’t yet touched her heart. As Henry David Thoreau said, ‘The squirrel you kill in jest, dies in earnest.’ We are told that this squirrel was hit by a car, but when people kill animals, it is the animals who are ‘screwed,’ not PETA, and one day I hope she will try to make up for any pain she might have caused any animal who did nothing but try to eke out a humble existence in nature.”

Gag me with a spoon. Lawrence’s initial instincts were correct. Screw PETA. In these scenes and movies characters are grappling with survival in the face of starvation and poverty. PETA seems to think the appropriate ending for Katniss would have been a moral vegan death from starvation in district 12 rather than being a life-affirming, kickass hunter. And I guess Ree should have morally died from exposure in the Ozarks. The producers bought her a squirrel from a local hunter, and she realistically portrayed the skinning of an animal by hunters for food. I think what really upsets PETA about these portrayals is that they realistically show what humans will do to survive, that hunting and eating animals comes naturally to us, and there’s nothing wrong with hunting for food.

Let’s hope Lawrence doesn’t back down, for some reason I think she won’t:

The actress, who spent a month in Missouri with a rural family learning to shoot rifles and chop wood in preparation for “Winter’s Bone,” and was trained by four-time Olympic archer Khatuna Lorig for her role as Katniss in “The Hunger Games,” also told Rolling Stone, that when she is done with her next movie she is “thinking about buying a house. And a big dog. And a shotgun.”

I’m liking her more and more.

No Tucker Max, not PETA!

You may have heard about Planned Parenthood turning down Tucker Max’s 500k charitable donation on the grounds his misogynistic past marred the gift.

Now PETA is asking for the donation.

Let’s beg him not to do this. Instead of giving money to the dog-killing animal rightsists, how about a donation to pro-test and put a thumb in the eye of the anti-research pet killers? Send him a message, donate the money to a pro-science group.

Here’s my email to Tucker:

Continue reading “No Tucker Max, not PETA!”

Huffpo Science – already slipping into anti-science

Our initial optimism over Huffpo science being a haven for reason in a den of disease-promotion and quackery appears now to be misplaced. It appears the animal rights cranks have made inroads with Bruce Friedrich, a member of PETA and advocate of animal liberation, who has jumped from Huffpo “green” to Huffpo “science”. The science gatekeepers at Huffpo have clearly failed.

Writing about “Speciesism: The Movie”, he exposes the anti-science ideology of the animal rights movement, and Huffpo science doesn’t seem to have noticed:

Every now and then, a movie comes along that is capable of fundamentally changing the worldview of its audience. Speciesism: The Movie, a new documentary by Mark Devries, is that kind of film.

The word “speciesism,” which has been popularized by Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer, refers to the assumption that a vast gulf exists between the ethical value of human interests and the ethical value of the interests of other animals. At its extreme, we may see ourselves as the only species that matters morally, and view other animals as existing merely for our use: to eat, to make into clothing, to perform experiments on, to be entertained by in circuses and zoos. Like those who grew up having overt racist beliefs assimilated into their worldview, some degree of speciesism has been so well-assimilated into the worldview of most of us that it does not even appear to be worth questioning.

Devries goes to great lengths to put together a thoughtful and entertaining film–whether commissioning an airplane to fly over factory farms’ giant “manure lagoons” with an anti-CAFO Republican from North Carolina, or (somehow) scheming his way into receiving a guided tour of a factory farm.

Along the way, he meets and questions a remarkably broad range of people, including Peter Singer (whom the New Yorker has named “one of the most influential philosophers alive”), Richard Dawkins (the most influential evolutionary biologist of the past century), and Temple Grandin (designer of the animal handling systems used by over half of the slaughterhouses in the United States).

He also speaks with anti-factory farming activists, a man who is dying next to a huge hog farm, a current member of the American Nazi Party, a disability rights activist, a vivisector, quite a few people on the street, and more–all in his quest to thoroughly consider the philosophy that says that bias on the basis of species is unjustifiable. Disclaimer: He also spoke with me.

Above all, Devries confronts some very difficult and uncomfortable questions head-on. For example: How strong are the grounds for believing that humans have special moral worth? How valid are the comparisons between our use of other animals and the slavery of other humans?

My emphasis added. So here we have it on Huffpo science. Believing that our species should be valued over other species is a sin equivalent to racism. Use of other animals is like slavery. Biologists aren’t scientists we’re “vivisectors”. We’re all going to hell.

To be clear, biological science without use of animals is impossible. It’s not just toxicity testing of drugs either, and we are fully aware of the limitations of our animal models, thankyouverymuch. But from the ground up, the study of life depends on the use of living things. From the cells we harvest for culture (we can’t all study wacky immortalized cancer cells you know), to the serum we grow them in, to the antibodies we generate by exposing animals to antigens, to the transgenic animals we use to study genes in vivo, to the model animals that modern surgical techniques and technologies are refined in, biological science is intimately tied to living things. The face transplant I wrote about yesterday? Impossible without prior animal modeling, practice with surgical technique and molecular investigation of immunosuppression. Transplant in general? The earliest investigations of skin grafting and surgical techniques for transplant were honed in animals – with some hefty human experimentation as well. Every major surgical advance, medical advance, and plain basic biological science knowledge comes from our manipulation of the living things around us. But are we in any way noble for our pursuit of knowledge, for yes, explicitly human benefit? No, we’re speciesist, we’re vivisectors.

Well fine, I admit it. I value human life over that of other species. I’ve devoted my life to saving human lives, and as a scientist, I’ve sacrificed animal lives to do so every time I’ve ordered a polyclonal antibody or bottle of FBS. According to radicals like Friedrich that makes me “vivisector”. I’m therefore a monster, like a slaver or murderer.

This is the unexamined ethics and thoughtless smug moral superiority of the animal rights activist. I doubt, when push came to shove they would sacrifice a human for an animal. Or even a large number of animals. Who, after all, swerves to avoid the squirrel and instead hits the kid on the sidewalk? No one. Human life is more valuable to us because we’re human and that’s OK. It’s not wrong to be self-interested or interested in our survival over that of other species. Survival requires a certain amount of self-interest, human survival requires the ingestion of other living things, and agriculture is never going to be cruelty free.

The vegan militia have forgotten that to get their cruelty free vegetables, the land has already been cleared, all competing species have been killed or driven out, those that remain are poisoned (even by organic farmers – they just use “certified organic” methods of pest control or even other animals like ladybugs). We put humans first every time we clear a field, dig a foundation, fence and spray our crops, and burn diesel to harvest and bring them to market. We have said, these resources are ours, we own the land, and all the beetles, voles and deer can go right to hell. Survival is cruel, and will always involve putting ourselves before other species.

The health benefits and technology they enjoy everyday has already been tested and worked out thanks to comparative medicine. It’s easy to feel morally superior about eating greens, and denigrating scientists, now that all that messy stuff has been done and the last time you were on a farm it was to pick a pumpkin in 3rd grade so you don’t know what actually goes into agriculture, even organic agriculture.

This is not to say I agree with CAFOs, food monoculture, the slimey tactics of Monsanto, or any of the extremes of poor infrastructure, corporate malfeasance and environmental stupidity of our food supply. But lets stop pretending that you become morally superior for eating tofu, all the while you happily ignore the habitat destruction, mass removal of unwanted species, and outright extinctions we’ve caused in order to create our agricultural dominance.

So let’s stop calling the people who are trying to understand, preserve and extend human lives speciesist (read racist) and vivisectors. Life is complicated. Living it without cruelty to something either requires you to be oblivious to our constant impact on the living things around us, or to retreat into some Jainist agrarian fantasy world that will never exist. Isn’t it better to have a healthy understanding that human beings survive in competition for limited resources with the species around us? We evolved to the point where we’ve become adapt at manipulating and controlling the natural world, and rather than being ashamed of it, we should accept it as a gift from our ancestors after eons of struggle.

4 Arrested in Animal Researcher Harassment

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that four young people have been arrested on suspicion that they harassed UCB and UC Santa Cruz animal researchers under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.

It is clear from the reporting that law enforcement is taking this issue seriously. The FBI and seven other law enforcement agencies were involved, and effort was coordinated through the Joint Terrorism Task Force. From the press release and reporting, it looks as though agents were following these activists in public places, and filmed them using publicly-available computer terminals. Even DNA was used to link items in a car used to flee from a harassment incident to the suspects arrested.

The FBI’s press release alleges the following harassment:

On Sunday, October 21, 2007 a group of approximately twenty people, including Mr. Buddenberg, Mr. Pope, and Ms. Stumpo, demonstrated outside a University of California Berkeley professor’s personal residence in El Cerrito, California. The group, some wearing bandanas to hide their faces, trespassed on his front yard, chanted slogans, and accused him of being a murderer because of his use of animals in research. The professor told police he was afraid, and felt harassed and intimidated by the extremists.

On Sunday, January 27, 2008, a group of approximately eleven individuals, including Mr. Buddenberg, Mr. Pope, Ms. Stumpo, and Ms. Khajavi, demonstrated outside the private residences of several University of California Berkeley researchers over the course of the day. At each residence, extremists dressed generally in all black clothing and wearing bandanas to hide their faces marched, chanted, and chalked defamatory comments on the public sidewalks in front of the residences. One of the researchers informed authorities he had been previously harassed and the incident had caused him to fear for his health and safety.

On February 24, 2008, five to six individuals including Mr. Pope, Ms. Stumpo, and Ms. Khajavi, attempted to forcibly enter the private home of a University of California researcher in Santa Cruz. When her husband opened the door, a struggle ensued and he was hit by an object. As the individuals fled, one yelled, “We’re gonna get you.” The professor and her husband both told the FBI they were terrified by the incident.

On July 29, 2008, a stack of flyers titled “Murderers and torturers alive & well in Santa Cruz July 2008 edition” was found at the Café Pergolesi in Santa Cruz. The fliers listed the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of several University of California researchers and stated “animal abusers everywhere beware we know where you live we know where you work we will never back down until you end your abuse.” The investigation connected Mr. Buddenberg, Mr. Pope, and Ms. Stumpo to the production and distribution of the fliers. Distribution of the fliers preceded two firebomb attacks outside researchers’ Santa Cruz homes, both of which are still under investigation by the FBI.

I’m willing to bet that local and federal police have people in every one of the area animal rights groups, in light of this pattern of harassment. This effort is likely to deflate this type of criminal behavior, because violations of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act can result in up to 5 years in prison. Whether guilty or innocent, a federal investigation and prosecution will turn one’s life upside down. And if guilty, the government will be seeking maximum prison stays.

Terrorism denialism

I was reading two articles on disparate subjects and found them oddly linked in my mind. The first former terrorist Bill Ayers’ explanation of why he didn’t respond when Obama was smeared by association and the second P. Michael Conn and James V. Parker writing for the WaPo about the escalation in recent years of animal rights terrorism.

What struck me about both these articles is the interesting divide between how terrorists justify their behaviors and diminish their objectives of striking fear into their opponents, and the reality of what the subjects of such acts perceive. Conn and Parker are quite right to use the label “terrorist”, as even though the ALF has been unsuccessful in actually killing someone so far, they’ve come close, demonstrated carelessness for human life, and ultimately are using acts of violence to intimidate others into changing their behavior.

Now frequently AR terrorism been downplayed in discussions on this blog as property damage, or mere economic assaults on research science. As an example of this mentality, listen to Ayers downplay the Weather Undergrounds violent activity:
Continue reading “Terrorism denialism”

The Plant Liberation Front

Gautam Naik covers an interesting development in Switzerland. Scientists there must now justify the ethics of genetic research on plants:

Dr. Keller recently sought government permission to do a field trial of genetically modified wheat that has been bred to resist a fungus. He first had to debate the finer points of plant dignity with university ethicists. Then, in a written application to the government, he tried to explain why the planned trial wouldn’t “disturb the vital functions or lifestyle” of the plants. He eventually got the green light.

The rule, based on a constitutional amendment, came into being after the Swiss Parliament asked a panel of philosophers, lawyers, geneticists and theologians to establish the meaning of flora’s dignity.

The rule incorporates the idea that vegetation has an inherent value, and so pointless harm to flora is immoral. Genetic modification is allowed, but a key concern is whether such modifications protect the plant’s reproductive and adaptive ability.

Defenders of the law argue that it reflects a broader, progressive effort to protect the sanctity of living things. Last month, Switzerland granted new rights to all “social animals.” Prospective dog owners must take a four-hour course on pet care before they can buy a canine companion, while anglers must learn to catch fish humanely. Fish can’t be kept in aquariums that are transparent on all sides. The fish need some shelter. Nor can goldfish be flushed down a toilet to an inglorious end; they must first be anesthetized with special chemicals, and then killed.

And I can’t resist including this:

Dr. Keller in Zurich…wants to breed wheat that can resist powdery mildew. In lab experiments, Dr. Keller found that by transferring certain genes from barley to wheat, he could make the wheat resistant to disease.

When applying for a larger field trial, he ran into the thorny question of plant dignity. Plants don’t have a nervous system and probably can’t feel pain, but no one knows for sure. So Dr. Keller argued that by protecting wheat from fungus he was actually helping the plant, not violating its dignity — and helping society in the process.

One morning recently, he stood by a field near Zurich where the three-year trial with transgenic wheat is under way. His observations suggest that the transgenic wheat does well in the wild. Yet Dr. Keller’s troubles aren’t over.

In June, about 35 members of a group opposed to the genetic modification of crops, invaded the test field. Clad in white overalls and masks, they scythed and trampled the plants, causing plenty of damage.

“They just cut them,” says Dr. Keller, gesturing to wheat stumps left in the field. “Where’s the dignity in that?”

PETA Sponsors Fake Meat Competition

John Schwartz reports in the Times that PETA:

…said it would announce plans on Monday for a $1 million prize to the “first person to come up with a method to produce commercially viable quantities of in vitro meat at competitive prices by 2012.”

I love it! This, in my opinion, is great news. Now the question is, how will the left accept it? Will they call PETA’s petri-dish meat “frankenfood?” Is laboratory-designed food made by lefties more healthy than laboratory-designed food by big agribusiness?! Only time will tell, but it will be fun to watch.

PETA: equating civil rights with steak

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is an extremist organization. Some might even call it a cult, and a violent one at that.

Ingrid Newkirk, the president of PETA, is a particularly objectionable fuckwit. Many of my friends are vegetarians for ethical reasons. They object to the treatment of the animals we use for food, and they object to the impact raising food animals has on the environment. It’s a personal choice. But they don’t think that a chicken is the ethical equivalent of a person. My friends just aren’t that stupid.

Ingrid is not one of my friends. In her message for the anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., she takes stupid to the next level—worse than nauseating, worse than burning, worse than blinding. She equates the assassination of America’s greatest civil rights leader with making omelettes.

MLK was one of thousands of people who were killed trying to gain equality for African Americans. Thousands more were physically injured, and millions more suffered the burdens of racism, Jim Crow, and segregation.

As we reflect on the violent killing of a man who stood for peace and equality, it’s a good time to ask ourselves what we are doing — because there’s so much we can do – to help humanity reach those goals.

We may not be able to stop all the violence in the world, but each of us has the power to end the violence and suffering we’re responsible for every time we sit down to eat, simply by choosing humane vegetarian foods instead of meat, dairy, and eggs. The animals who are killed for our food never have the freedom to do anything natural or enjoyable.

There are a couple of ways to interpret her idiocy. One is that Blacks are no better or worse than animals, given that both deserve the same rights. I find this abhorrent.

The other is that all people are no better than animals when it comes to how we treat each other. I find this equally abhorrent.

If you do not recognize that there is a moral difference between how we treat other humans and how we treat animals, you are missing something fundamental: the world isn’t fair. We were not put on Earth to help other species. We exist in a world of predation. Thankfully, we are most often the predator. Sure, we can choose not to eat animals, but it is not the same as choosing not to eat a person. People are far more intelligent than other animals, and each person is a member of human society. Chickens are not, and will never be, integrated into our society, either physically or morally.

Anyone who claims that eating animals is the moral equivalent of Jim Crow, lynching, and assassination is not only an idiot, but is a racist idiot, and a dangerous idiot—if animal lives are the equivalent of human lives, then some fucktard out there is going to kill a person to save an animal.

I don’t think it’s going to far to say that PETA should probably be on a terrorist group watch list, if it isn’t already. People have been hurt, and more surely will be.

Another attack on a researcher

This time it appears to be a physical assault and an attempt to enter a home of a researcher that works with mice.

The researcher described the attack in which people wearing masks attempted to break into her house during her daughter’s birthday party. Although her identity is being protected, I admire her moxy, she’s not going to back down.

“I’m a scientist, I do research that’s really valuable,” she said. “One in seven women get breast cancer.”

She also said she refused to move from her Westside Santa Cruz home, where police say six masked intruders banged on her door and tried to forcefully enter.

“I’m going to keep on keeping on,” she said. “It’s my home.”

The researcher said one of the assailants struck her husband on the hand with an unknown object after he confronted them on the front porch, but he is OK. She said her two children, 2 and 8, who were home at the time, are “terrified” but OK.

Are people beginning to understand yet that this is a problem for more than primate researchers? This type of behavior will only escalate, and it’s because the basis of the beliefs of the ARAs is totally warped. If you listen to what they say and what they do, they believe that science tortures animals, that the research is of no value, and essentially we are inhuman monsters that should be killed. Think I’m kidding? See the comments on my last thread.

The fundamental problem isn’t the absence of appropriate safeguards and regulation of science, we have plenty. The problem is an ideological movement that lies about how we do research, and the scientific basis for using animals in research. It is classic denialism.

If you don’t believe this is terrorism or that it will only get worse see the list of recent actions listed by the ARAs themselves. It’s not going to go away and seems to be spreading to the US. Researchers are going to have to stand up for what they do and not let themselves be intimidated over this. And if they do want to have a debate about the use of animals for research, it will have to start from the premise that without animals biological research is impossible. If you believe that animals shouldn’t be used in research, that’s fine. We differ in opinion. But what can not be denied is the critical utility of animals at all levels of the scientific enterprise. If you are OK with ending most meaningful biological discovery, bully for you, at least you’re honest. I don’t think the majority of people will go along with you though. That’s why they have to lie to support this ideology and that’s why they are denialists. Their position is untenable scientifically and politically.