Sunday, October 20

Animal activists’ extremism promotes violence, endangers scientific progress

Threats against researcher promote violence and endanger scientific progress

The Rundown

Animal rights activists sent razor blades they claim are tainted with AIDS to a UCLA researcher on Nov. 23.

Such violent actions ruin the credibility of animal rights activists. A healthy debate over animal research is acceptable, but such extreme measures go too far.

Correction: The original version of this article published on Dec. 2 contained an error. In Jentsch’s research, some monkeys are euthanized at the conclusion of the research.

Extremism is back on our campus.

The recent actions by animal rights activists are nothing more than a form of extremism that is uncalled for and should in no way be tolerated.

The mailing of razor blades, allegedly tainted with AIDS, to UCLA researcher J. David Jentsch on Nov. 23 is only the latest in the ongoing warfare against researchers who use animals as their testing subjects.

Jentsch has publicly stated that he will not step down from his research on methamphetamines. In his research, Jentsch uses vervet monkeys to test their addiction ““ a small number of them are humanely euthanized at the conclusion of the study. Done under strict oversight, the research is intended to benefit patients with disabilities associated with schizophrenia.

Fanatical tactics in opposition to such research are intended only to provoke fear in the researchers whose practices they condemn as inhumane and torturous. But they are only that, fanatical tactics that highlight one thing: that these so-called “activists” do not have a sound understanding of the very research they are endangering.

Research that uses animal subjects to analyze symptoms of diseases and test drugs that are intended for human consumption are not uncommon at research universities. Any prescription or over-the-counter drug that is available in the market was likely tested on animal subjects to ensure safety. The question of whether animal research is acceptable is not what we’re exploring. Rather, this board maintains that people should not protest with violence, no matter how crude they determine the actions of the aggressor to be.

By committing acts of violence, these extremists are promoting violence and making their own cause seem deplorable. They are also negatively impacting the reputation of animal rights activists who choose to promote their cause through peaceful means.

In some respects, these extremists have already succeeded. Some researchers have already forgone their practices, moved from their homes and taken other steps to ensure that they are not followed.

The idea of such misguided activists destroying the lives of world-class researchers through their tasteless, violent tactics is atrocious.

These attacks should create concern for the community at large, because the implications are far-reaching. Medical breakthroughs occur in large part as a result of the valuable research that scientists perform.

Mailing blades to a researcher and continuing threats on his life endangers future progress and is a threat to every UCLA student, faculty member and researcher.

Intimidation and death threats should never be the solution, no matter how bad an action may seem to somebody. What ever happened to dialogue?

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