Imagine if a group of rabid creationists started firebombing the homes of University of California professors to prevent them from teaching evolution. Area politicians would be holding competing press conferences to assure the public that they would take on the violent zealots, who have declared war, not only on good academics and their families, but on science itself.
No need to imagine. Across California, a different group of zealots has done just that. True believers have distributed personal information on scientists and their families. They've placed firebombs in medical researchers' homes and cars. They've donned hoods on their heads and marched to the homes of professors, then banged on their doors. They've told children that their parents are evil murderers and chalked anonymous charges on sidewalks for the neighbors to see.
The difference is these zealots aren't fighting for religious fundamentalism. Extremist animal rights groups have organized anonymously to intimidate and terrorize medical researchers until they abandon their studies out of fear for their children's safety and their own peace of mind.
They perfected the art of intimidation in the United Kingdom. First, extremists vandalized research labs. Then, they targeted companies that did business with researchers. In 2004, activists finally went too far when they dug up the remains of the mother-in-law of a guinea-pig breeder.
Now animal rights extremists are targeting University of California researchers. First, they placed bombs that did not go off. When that didn't shut down labs, they ratcheted up the violence. Wanted posters warned UC Santa Cruz researchers: "Animal abusers everywhere beware; we know where you live; we know where you work; we will never back down until you end your abuse."
Early Saturday morning, a firebomb destroyed a car belonging to a UCSC scientist. Shortly afterward, a firebomb erupted in the nearby townhouse of assistant biology professor David Feldheim. As smoke and flames filled the first floor, Feldheim, his wife, their 7-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter were forced to use a drop ladder to escape from a second-floor bedroom.
Jerry Vlasak, who, as a spokesman for the Animal Liberation Press Office, serves as an apologist for animal rights zealots, issued this statement: "This is historically what happens whenever revolutionaries begin to take the oppression and suffering of their fellow beings seriously, whether human or nonhuman. It's regrettable that certain scientists are willing to put their families at risk by choosing to do wasteful animal experiments in this day and age."