Britain: Animal rights activist get nasty
Terrorists are stalking Britain, said Patience Wheatcroft in the London Times. This time thet aren't al Qaida members, but animal rights activists. To stop a new research lab from being built at Oxford University, the zealots went after a top employee of Montpellier, the construction company that was working on the building. They wrote "Scum" in blood-red paint on his lawn. They called him at all hours of the night. They threatened to forge documents branding him a serial sex offender and post them on the Internet. They sent death threats. "You reap what you sow," on letter said. "There will be PERMANENT consequences for you PERSONALLY if this project continues with the involvement of your family." The terrorist tactics worked. Montpellier pulled out of its contract, and Oxford has been forced to look for another builder.
If the animal rights freaks are the new terrorists, said Sophie Goodchild and Steve Bloomfield in the London Independent, then Britain is their Afghanistan. This country has always had dedicated activists. Animal rights as a global movement began here back in 1824, when Richard Martin founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Now Britain is becoming the world headquarters for animal extremists, complete with a kind of terrorist training camp. Next month, some 300 "young militants from abroad" are coming to a training event in Kent, where they will learn how to scale buildings and how to sabotage duck and deer hunters.
You have to sympathize with the activists' intentions, said Minette Martin in the London Sunday Times. "Experimenting on animals is very unpleasant." Who doesn't go all melty looking at a cute little bunny? But the sympathy for animal rights extremists dies upon examination of the "viciousness of their methods, the ignorance of their attitudes, and the perversity of their priorities." The Oxford lab isn't going to torture animals just for the fun of it. The scientists there will seek cures for lukemia, diabetes, and other diseases. The self-righteous lot trying to stop it from being built are placing animal lives above human lives, and that is simply grotesque. Let's not forget that the Nazis, too, were ardent anti-vivisectionists. We can't let these "bunnyfascists" keep us from persuing medical research.
If Britain were to shut down all animal research facilities, said Tim Webb, also in The Independent, we'd lose more than just new medicines. The blow to the economy would be enormous. Pharmaceutical companies in this country emply 65,000 people, half of them in research. Exports generate billions of dollars for the U.K. economy. If the government doesn't protect these companies and lets them "roll over and give in to extremists," that money will go abroad. Montpellier didn't pull out solely because of vandalism of its workers' homes. The company was also hit in the pocketbook. Activists sent shareholders a letter purportedly from the company's board of directors, warning of theats against those owning stock in the company. Shares promptly plummeted nearly 20 percent, as frightened investors rushed to sell. The extremists have learned that the way to wound a company is to cost it money.
Still, for now, violence is their main weapon, said Jamie Wilson in the London Guardian. The government is alarmed enought to consider new anti-terror measures aimed specifically at at the new extremists. But will that be enough? A U.S. advisor to two of Britain's leading animal welfare groups recently called for the heads o scientists who experimented on rats. "I think violence is part of the struggle against oppression," said the advisor, Jerry Vlasak. "If something bad happens to these people, it will discourage others."
Canada: Swatting summer's nastiest bug
There's one Canadian pest that's even peskier than the mosquito, said David Schmiechel in the Winnipeg Sun. That would be the mosquito protester. Every summer, we're plagued by swarms of buzzing, biting insects, and every summer, a few shrill, annoying humans pop up to oppose the spraying of insecticides over populated areas. Never mind that the chemicals have been thorougly tested and approved. Never mind that there is already an "opt-out" program for those who don't want their particular homes or business sprayed. The activists want to make sure that no square foot of a Canadian town is allowed to be bug-free. They form human chains and lie in front of fogging machines; they chant and picket and protest. The rest of us have a message for them: "Grow the hell up. The 60's are over, and you missed them." Civil disobedience should be reserved for fighting injustice, not used to foist the interests "of a tiny fringe group" on the law-abiding masses. What the activists call poison, "everyone else calls relief."
Good week for: Claustrophic goldfish after the city council of Monza, Italy, ordered goldfish owners to keep their pets in fully equipped aqauriums. "A fish kept in a bowl has a distorted view of reality and suffers because of this." said the law's sponsor, Giampietro Mosca.
The Week August 6, 2004