Tom Holder, of the group Speaking of Research, a student outreach organization, saw what happened in the United Kingdom, and he sees the same escalation of violence and harassment in the United States. Holder also saw the tide of public opinion turn against animal rights nuts in Great Britain when students and professors, who had been cowed into silence, began to speak out in favor of a proposed biomedical research laboratory at Oxford University. The majority prevailed, and the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre was built.
"We must not allow a violent minority to dictate the future of medicine," Holder noted, when cures and knowledge can save so many lives. Too often American universities have tried to downplay animal rights terrorism. Researchers clam up, lest they be next. The harassment campaigns "tend to isolate individuals," Holder noted. But the terrorists cannot prevail when scientists stand together for their work.
UCSC professor Marty Chemers already had called a rally for 5 p.m. Monday to express outrage at these attacks. "These are people who want to do violence and they cloak themselves in this kind of moral stance," Chemers told me. Though unfamiliar with the animal rights movement, Chemers, a social psychologist, nailed it. This is not a movement interested in the welfare and humane treatment of laboratory animals. It is an anarchistic, misanthropic cult.
To bring home that point, the Humane Society of the United States has offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for Saturday's firebombings. HSUS President Wayne Pacelle told me, "This behavior is at odds with the core values of respect and compassion that we espouse in our work at the Humane Society."
We wouldn't let these zealots burn the university's books. But if they prevail, these extremists will have cowed scientists, destroyed research labs, and with them any cures they might invent.