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Sqrrl stands up for science
February 28, 2006 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Laurie Pycroft, age 16, took a year off school to build websites and futter about on the Internet. When animal rights campaigners waged a series of protests against a new biomedical research lab being constructed at Oxford University - with the extremist group Animal Liberation Front threatening buildings, students and staff as "legitimate targets" - Laurie decided to form Pro-Test, an organisation in support of animal testing, and stage a counterdemonstration to the monthly anti-testing demo at Oxford. The result: On 25 February, at least 700 protestors, eminent scientists, politicians, and students showed up. So did the media.
posted by By The Grace of God (74 comments total)

 
His blog is great. Sixteen year old kid with typical interests, courage, a healthy interest in science, and a sense of humour. His response to death threats:

The ALF, as I've said before, can suck on my manberries. I don't fear those cowards, and they're nothing but terrorists.
posted by By The Grace of God at 12:34 PM on February 28, 2006


Great story. It's kind of odd, when you think about it, that no one has done this before.
posted by kozad at 12:40 PM on February 28, 2006


Laurie's a girl's name.
posted by smackfu at 12:42 PM on February 28, 2006


Animal rights activists threatening violence to humans are on the same shaky moral ground as pro-life activists who are also pro-capital punishment. Newsflash: humans are animals.

You know what might make both sides happy? Instead of testing on animals; test on volunteer prisoners. Say you're in jail, and you want some extra privileges. You volunteer to be a human guinea pig, you get extra TV time, or dirty magazines, conjugal visits with an escort, etc.
posted by weirdoactor at 12:43 PM on February 28, 2006


You say that in jest, but I don't have any issues with the idea.
posted by Witty at 12:46 PM on February 28, 2006


You know what might make both sides happy?

Um, no.
posted by metaculpa at 12:48 PM on February 28, 2006


That was the plot of an episode of Oz and it had Horrible Ramifications for Cyril O'Reilly!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:50 PM on February 28, 2006


Alf eats cats, you know.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:50 PM on February 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


To clarify one of the first questions I had reading the article: Dr Evan Harris MP is a Liberal Democrat with a degree in physiology and medical sociology, and a public health career prior to politics.

(I'm worried this could take on an ugly right-wing tinge, if they don't keep the focus on science.)
posted by dhartung at 12:52 PM on February 28, 2006


Animal rights activists threatening violence to humans are on the same shaky moral ground as pro-life activists who are also pro-capital punishment. Newsflash: humans are animals.

I think that's a bad analogy. If you believe that animals are being mistreated, you might believe that you are justified in attacking those who mistreat them, in the same way that antiabortion activists attack clinics and antislavery activists attacked slaveholders.

I'm not saying I agree with any of those three actions, just pointing out what I see as a flawed analogy.
posted by me & my monkey at 12:52 PM on February 28, 2006


weirdoactor: been there, done that.
posted by kozad at 12:53 PM on February 28, 2006


futter eh? I smell a scot
posted by bonaldi at 12:55 PM on February 28, 2006


Kind of what kozad said--the Beats wouldn't have gotten off the ground if not for the free meds they got to take as parts of lab experiments, LSD being one of them.
posted by bardic at 12:56 PM on February 28, 2006


Many of the tests they do on animals involve permanent mutilation of one sort or another. It seems unlikely that anyone, even convicted felons, would volunteer to have hairspray shot into their eyeballs until permanent damage resulted.

I'm not super-fond of animal testing, personally, for a couple of reasons:

1) Animal testing disqualifies potentially safe drugs - penicillin, which is toxic to dogs, probably wouldn't make it through modern animal testing to the "approved for trial use in humans" phase.

2) Animal testing is a stop-gap technology on the way to growing specific human tissues to use for the same purpose. It provides us with at best approximations of how human tissues will react to the drug.

3) Animal testing is cruel as fuck.

4) It's not actually a replacement for human trials, which seems to make the whole thing a bit of a bum's rush, since we can't actually guarantee that we're saving any human lives or preventing any human suffering by doing it.

All that said, I'm not particularly fond of ALF or their tactics. Most of the animals they "liberate" have to be put down anyhow (rabbits with their eyelids cut off, etc.) and it seems pointless, and perhaps even ridiculous, to threaten a bunch of people with death simply so that you can kill the animals instead of them.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 1:01 PM on February 28, 2006


It makes me sad that the debate on this issue seems to be purely black and white.

Personally, I'd love to see a significant reduction in pointless use of animals (e.g. dissections for high school and non-specialist college students). I'd like to see animal testing banned for things like cosmetics. I'd like to see more laws restricting how animals are treated in labs.

I don't really see any organizations calling for that, though. On the one side you've got ALF and PETA and their no animal testing ever (I recall reading an article from PETA a few years back about how animal testing data is uselesss -- meaning they are either liars or morons). On the other side, you've got a reactionary "I can kill an animal anytime I want for any reason" camp.
posted by malphigian at 1:03 PM on February 28, 2006


Web pages with white text on black backgrounds should be protested. My poor eyes....
posted by JJ86 at 1:04 PM on February 28, 2006


me & my monkey: There have been statements by the ALF to the effect that all of Oxford University (academics, students and staff) and all those that do business with it are legitimate targets. I am therefore a legitimate target even though I and many others in my situation have never been involved in the animal laboratory.

They burnt down a boathouse of a college unconnected with the lab (destroying tens of thousands of pounds worth of boats and causing massive damage), simply because it was in some way part of the university and because it was an easy target being in a relatively remote location.

This is wrong, and goes way beyond any of the analogies you draw.

I personally think it'd be wrong even if they did just target the lab directly, but that's beside the point I'm making here.
posted by edd at 1:11 PM on February 28, 2006


Animal testing is cruel as fuck.

That's entirely dependent on whether or not you give a shit.
posted by rxrfrx at 1:12 PM on February 28, 2006


Yes, animal testing is even more polarizing than the abortion issue, on which most Westerners eke out a position somewhere in the middle (although NARAL and Focus on the Family are not going to find any common ground).
posted by kozad at 1:12 PM on February 28, 2006


Pseudoephedrine : "Animal testing disqualifies potentially safe drugs - penicillin, which is toxic to dogs, probably wouldn't make it through modern animal testing to the 'approved for trial use in humans' phase."

Which is why multiple species are used, and interspecies similarities and differences are mapped.

Animal testing is a stop-gap technology on the way to growing specific human tissues to use for the same purpose. It provides us with at best approximations of how human tissues will react to the drug.

Don't hold your breath. Also, it's not just tissue-specific, but whole body response, as well. Also, how do you expect to study effects of genes (via knockout/in) on physiology, if not on animals?

"It's not actually a replacement for human trials, which seems to make the whole thing a bit of a bum's rush, since we can't actually guarantee that we're saving any human lives or preventing any human suffering by doing it."

Guarantee is too strong an expectation. Empirically-reinforced probabilities is more realistic.
posted by Gyan at 1:15 PM on February 28, 2006


Well done, Laurie, I say. Slightly odd that it took a 16 year old kid to organise a couter-protest to the animal rights idiots - one would've thought the combined brains of Oxford might've had the idea themselves.
posted by jack_mo at 1:18 PM on February 28, 2006


malphigian: I rather suspect things are less polarised than you think. The other camp isn't of the opinion you suggest. Given a better alternative (and better would include less suffering for animals) I'm sure most biologists (or whatever discipline) would stop animal testing, and a number are on record saying this, but they do not have a better alternative.

There will be no cosmetics testing in Oxford - it was banned in the UK in I believe 1998 anyway, and there are strict controls on animal use and the conditions in which they live I believe, although if you want that more strictly controlled then fair enough.
posted by edd at 1:19 PM on February 28, 2006


That's entirely dependent on whether or not you give a shit.

A person on the internet who tells us he doesn't care without anyone asking him if he did? Why, now I've seen everything!
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 1:20 PM on February 28, 2006


me & my monkey: actually, you made my point quite nicely.

kozad: please note my use of the word "volunteer".
posted by weirdoactor at 1:22 PM on February 28, 2006


Except that the ALF explicitly regards targeting humans as unethical, unlike abortion protesters.
posted by beerbajay at 1:30 PM on February 28, 2006


beerbajay: See here. A statement claiming to be from them explicitly stated that humans are targets - although maybe not in the sense you mean it.
posted by edd at 1:34 PM on February 28, 2006


hoooray! three cheers for institutionalized cruelty!
tune in next time when we'll have a story about those heroic toddlers who beat grandmothers with their own canes.
posted by BillBishop at 1:37 PM on February 28, 2006


Yes, *ahem* "physically harming humans as unethical"
posted by beerbajay at 1:37 PM on February 28, 2006


me & my monkey: actually, you made my point quite nicely.

I don't think your analogy matches your point, then. One can oppose abortion, and oppose capital punishment - the killing of criminals by the state - and still believe that attacking abortion providers is moral.

There have been statements by the ALF to the effect that all of Oxford University (academics, students and staff) and all those that do business with it are legitimate targets. I am therefore a legitimate target even though I and many others in my situation have never been involved in the animal laboratory. ... This is wrong, and goes way beyond any of the analogies you draw.

I agree that it's wrong. I disagree that it goes beyond any of my analogies. Clinics provide lots of services beside abortion, but if you happen to be in a clinic getting those services when it's blown up you'll probably find that irrelevant. William Sherman was hacked to death by John Brown's followers because his brother was a militant pro-slavery advocate.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:38 PM on February 28, 2006


Yeah, mr_crash_davis!
posted by shoepal at 1:40 PM on February 28, 2006


Sounds like Oxford (UK) has the right idea, edd - no cosmetic testing. Although I don't like the idea of animal testing of any kind, that's a pretty big feat for a 16-year old. One with bad taste in fonts at that.
posted by Alpenglow at 1:40 PM on February 28, 2006


Some quick perusal of the ALF supporters webpage makes it clear that ALF is not actually an organization. It is a pseudonym claimed by anyone engaging in actions who feels an affinity with past actions taken under the ALF banner.

Personally I can't imagine what, if anything, such actions actually accomplish (and this is from someone who is very strongly opposed to animal testing) in the bigger picture. But these days I think we need to be sensitive to wanton accusations about people being in "terrorist organizations" when such organizations do not even exist.
posted by poweredbybeard at 1:44 PM on February 28, 2006


Which is why multiple species are used, and interspecies similarities and differences are mapped.

True. But it's still unable to provide us with key safety information. For example, the FDA says "However, in the majority of investigational new drug applications (INDs), animal data are not available in sufficient detail to construct a scientifically valid, pharmacokinetic model whose aim is to accurately project an MRSD." where MSRD is the maximum recommended starting dose in healthy adult volunteers.

Don't hold your breath. Also, it's not just tissue-specific, but whole body response, as well. Also, how do you expect to study effects of genes (via knockout/in) on physiology, if not on animals?

I agree the technology's not there yet. That's why animal testing is a stop-gap measure, after all. But I don't think that technology is so far away that we should consign it to the far future, either. If sufficient funding and research is dedicated to the problem, and these resources exist and are available, we could get it within ten or fifteen years.

As for whole body experiments - grow the necessary parts, possibly even a near-brainless human body - and test that. The same goes for genes.

Guarantee is too strong an expectation. Empirically-reinforced probabilities is more realistic.

True. I don't want to come across as, like PETA, saying that animal testing is horrible, cruel, and useless to boot. I think it definitely does have some use.

What I'm suspicious of though, is not animal testing's use in principle, but animal testing's use in practice. As the FDA points out, key safety information like MSRD usually can't be obtained on new drugs from animal testing because the animal testing done was inadequate or linking models of inter-species pharmakinetic action are unavailable.

The FDA's guideline papers repeat similar complaints - inadequate procedures for animal testing, inadequate models to make sense of the data wrt human health, etc.

And of course, all of this deals only with medical experimentation, not the junk they do in the cosmetic industry etc., which I don't expect you to defend.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 1:47 PM on February 28, 2006


As for whole body experiments - grow the necessary parts, possibly even a near-brainless human body - and test that.

So many jokes, so little time ...
posted by me & my monkey at 1:50 PM on February 28, 2006


Web pages with white text on black backgrounds should be protested. My poor eyes....

I don't really understand this, white text with a black background causes less eye-fatigue, but it's very expensive and difficult to print things like that. On a monitor, you don't have that problem at all, so why use a white background when you don't have too?
posted by delmoi at 1:51 PM on February 28, 2006


Just so were clear, this is what I believe: If you believe that killing a baby is wrong, then you should also believe that killing an adult is wrong. If you believe that harming animals is wrong, then you should also believe that harming humans is wrong.

One can oppose abortion, and oppose capital punishment - the killing of criminals by the state - and still believe that attacking abortion providers is moral.

And one can also drink alcohol at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Acting in a way that is divergent from a claimed personal belief is quite common in homo sapiens. Example: the legal use of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine vs. the demonization of the use of “illegal” drugs. Cherry-picking a point of view is the best way to make your point without giving the other side any room to make their argument. Like Christian conservatives who use the book of Leviticus to rail against homosexuality while wearing poly-cotton/wool shirts, eating hybrid corn and meat, and putting on their pigskin leather jackets to head into the office on Sunday.

It's not that I disbelieve the possibility that someone could simultaneously hold divergent beliefs. I simply believe that doing so is moronic and illogical; and therefore thoroughly and abashedly human. I don't believe I have the power to change this behavior in others, but I do so enjoy pointing and laughing when I observe it; even in my own actions.
posted by weirdoactor at 1:58 PM on February 28, 2006


"Just so were clear" should have been "Just so we're clear". See? Pointing and laughing. I suck at proofing my own work.
posted by weirdoactor at 1:59 PM on February 28, 2006


delmoi said something: I don't really understand this, white text with a black background causes less eye-fatigue......


You don't have to understand it do you, not if you don't want to? It's all about persistence of vision and is pretty well known that this combination of white text on black background sucks and is inhumane.
posted by JJ86 at 2:01 PM on February 28, 2006


just so were clear, this is what I believe: If you believe that killing a baby is wrong, then you should also believe that killing an adult is wrong. If you believe that harming animals is wrong, then you should also believe that harming humans is wrong. ... It's not that I disbelieve the possibility that someone could simultaneously hold divergent beliefs.

Your beliefs ignore many complications imposed by real life. The beliefs of others aren't necessarly divergent as you seem to think. If someone is about to murder your five-year-old, aren't you justified if you use deadly force to stop them?
posted by me & my monkey at 2:03 PM on February 28, 2006


white text with a black background causes less eye-fatigue

For you maybe, but a lot folk I know (scientific sample!) have trouble with white-on-black. I know I can barely read white-on-black without getting horrible eye-fatigue and, after more than a few paragraphs, a headache.

If only animals could read, then we'd be able to test this thoroughly.
posted by jack_mo at 2:05 PM on February 28, 2006


What me & my monkey said. Someone can have a completely consistent belief system that tells them that the greater good is served by the net quantity of suffering being minimized across all animals. If killing someone, even taking into account the suffering that causes, is considered to be a net loss of suffering, then there's nothing divergent about doing so. Not to say it's right of course.
posted by juv3nal at 2:09 PM on February 28, 2006


weirdoactor writes "It's not that I disbelieve the possibility that someone could simultaneously hold divergent beliefs. I simply believe that doing so is moronic and illogical; and therefore thoroughly and abashedly human. "

Such beliefs aren't necessarily contradictory. For instance, I can believe that killing is wrong, but that the war against Nazi Germany was justified, even though it involved killing a lot of Germans, since it served a greater good.

Similarly, radical anti-abortion terrorists perceive their violent actions as serving the greater good of preventing abortions. They would claim that they end a few guilty lives in the service of saving many innocent lives. There's nothing inherently "moronic and illogical" about this view; in fact, one might argue that it is the inevitable conclusion of the belief that abortion is murder.

Your point of view is rather simple-minded and fails to take into account a whole range of situations in which violence might be justified (defensive war being the most obvious, I think). Now, of course, you might be categorically opposed to violence in all cases, but that's really a different argument. Clearly, anti-abortion terrorists do not share such a categorical opposition.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:12 PM on February 28, 2006


As for whole body experiments - grow the necessary parts, possibly even a near-brainless human body - and test that.

I can already hear the howls of the pro-life movement. Considering how rabidly they protested removing a brain-dead woman's feeding tube, I can't begin to imagine the shitstorm they'd start over experimenting on the brainless.

Given a better alternative (and better would include less suffering for animals) I'm sure most biologists (or whatever discipline) would stop animal testing

In college, I worked in a campus pharmaceuticals lab where hamsters were used as test subjects. The method of euthanasia struck me as particularly cruel (the hamsters were stuck in a plastic bag that was then pumped full of CO2). I recall one of the grad students commenting that in the afterlife, he expected hamsters to suffocate him in a bag ad infinitum. So yes, I think most scientists (except for mad ones, of course) would prefer not to snuff cute, furry creatures.
posted by nightengine at 2:14 PM on February 28, 2006


Slightly odd that it took a 16 year old kid to organise a couter-protest to the animal rights idiots

Kinda. I think protesting is for the most part a young persons game and organizations like the ALF, PETA, etc appeal to young people in HS and college, when they're forming their opinions of the world. The fact that a 16 yo did this instead of some aging professer is part of its effectiveness. Arguably, all 16 yos should toe the ALF/PETA line and shut the hell up. Laurie sees it differently.

I think standing up to these thugs has been highly politically incorrect for a variety of reasons. Think of the social stigma of being "that guy" on campus who thinks animal testing is ok and ALF/PETA are nutty extremists. Might as well walk around in GOP sweatshirt. I'm glad that's changing.
posted by skallas at 2:22 PM on February 28, 2006


Laurie is a pretty progressive guy - critiquing anti-testers who have made comments about the foreign origin of many Oxford students, and defending the right of Muslims to protest The Cartoon, for example. He has a thorough interest in science, and doesn't seem to be particularly right-wing. I sincerely hope that this doesn't become a right-left issue. There are plenty of leftists who distance themselves from the animal rights movement, especially its more extreme representatives.
posted by By The Grace of God at 2:26 PM on February 28, 2006


me & my monkey: Your beliefs ignore many complications imposed by real life.

Okay. There’s no way to clear up your misconceptions without being a dick, so I apologize in advance. And seeing how reading comprehension doesn't seem to be your strong suit (nor is it that of others who seem to agree with you...looking hard at you, mr_roboto); please read the following *carefully*, three times if necessary:

I, me, weirdoactor, Alex, DO NOT HOLD THESE BELIEFS YOU ARE ATTRIBUTING TO ME VIS-AV-IS NON-VIOLENCE. I am indeed a believer in necessary violence. What I *DO* believe is that holding simultaneous strong contradictory beliefs is a) stupid, and b) human. Please see the following phrase in my last post:

this is what I believe: If you believe

I sincerely hope that you understood what I was trying to say that time. Wow. Reading IS fundamental!
posted by weirdoactor at 2:32 PM on February 28, 2006


I am indeed a believer in necessary violence.

So are anti-abortion and animal-rights terrorists. The perceive the violence they inflict as necessary. They therefore do not hold contradictory beliefs regarding the morality of violence: they justify their violent actions with a belief that such actions are serving to prevent worse violent actions.

Get it now?
posted by mr_roboto at 2:39 PM on February 28, 2006


Also, you say that you hold the following belief:

"If you believe that killing a baby is wrong, then you should also believe that killing an adult is wrong."

Let simplify this; I don't see why the age of the people is relevant to the argument. Let's say that your belief is "If you believe that killing a specific person is wrong, you must believe that killing any person would be wrong". I think this is an accurate generalization of your original statement.

You also say that you believe in "necessary violence"; for instance, a defensive war. However, such a war would require killing, and you've already said that if killing a person is wrong, then killing any person must be wrong.

To resolve this without contradiction, we must therefore conclude that you believe that killing a person is not wrong. Are you a murderer, weirdoactor?
posted by mr_roboto at 2:51 PM on February 28, 2006


Pseudoephedrine : "As for whole body experiments - grow the necessary parts, possibly even a near-brainless human body - and test that."

And how does one ascertain that 1)these specimens accurately mimic normal humans? 2)the dynamics of a (near-)brainless body are the same as that of a normal one?
posted by Gyan at 2:56 PM on February 28, 2006


Control experiments.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:03 PM on February 28, 2006


"If you believe that killing a specific person is wrong, you must believe that killing any person would be wrong"

I believe that killing ME is wrong.... I do not believe that killing you is wrong.


Those who value animal lives over human live should volunteer to take the animals places....or is it only the lives of other humans that are less valuable than animals?

If more of these "non-sentient rights" jackasses had the conviction to kill themselves (A la self immolation, or suicide bombing) my respect for them would increase by an infinite percentage from 0 to >0
posted by Megafly at 3:23 PM on February 28, 2006


Another one: what about testing of psychotropic drugs?
posted by Gyan at 3:23 PM on February 28, 2006


Brains without bodies for those!


Hold on...
posted by mr_roboto at 3:28 PM on February 28, 2006


And how does one ascertain that 1)these specimens accurately mimic normal humans? 2)the dynamics of a (near-)brainless body are the same as that of a normal one?

Presumably, using the same methods we use to figure out the similarities between humans and animals, but without having to jump over to another physiology and genome in the process.

Another one: what about testing of psychotropic drugs?

Oh, we've got Alex Shulgin for that. ;P

More seriously, it depends upon what you want to know about psychotropic drugs. With the ability to grow tissue, you can test pharmacokinetics and all the molecular biological aspects. The only thing that's not really accounted for is behavioural studies.

But, the only real pain-infliction part of most behavioural studies is when you have to kill the rats/mice/whatever in order to figure out what was going on in their brain. Certainly, looking for a more useful and less invasive and painful procedure (perhaps a very tiny MRI? ;) ) to tell more about the links between behavioural changes and the drug in question would be a good thing to do.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 3:44 PM on February 28, 2006


Great post.

Pseudoephedrine: Animal testing is not necessarily "cruel as fuck." Letting cures and treatments go undiscovered because of our ability to project human characteristics onto animals is short-sighted and misinformed.
posted by blendor at 3:47 PM on February 28, 2006


Me: I am indeed a believer in necessary violence.

mr_roboto: So are anti-abortion and animal-rights terrorists. The perceive the violence they inflict as necessary. They therefore do not hold contradictory beliefs regarding the morality of violence: they justify their violent actions with a belief that such actions are serving to prevent worse violent actions.

Get it now?


Um. No. And neither do you, obviously.

I don't see why the age of the people is relevant to the argument.

Agreed!

However, such a war would require killing, and you've already said that if killing a person is wrong, then killing any person must be wrong.

No. You just said that. I didn't say that.

Are you a murderer, weirdoactor?

Several times over; based on a variety of definitions of the word "murder". I'm a killing machine.

mr_roboto: Also, you say that you hold the following belief:

"If you believe that killing a baby is wrong, then you should also believe that killing an adult is wrong."


No. I did not say that *I* hold that belief. Please, please learn to read before you hurt yourself.
posted by weirdoactor at 3:54 PM on February 28, 2006


> If you believe that killing a baby is wrong, then you should also believe that killing an adult is wrong.

Not necessarily. Babies are known to be guilt-free. No infant Pol Pots.

posted by jfuller at 4:10 PM on February 28, 2006


weirdoactor writes "No. I did not say that *I* hold that belief. Please, please learn to read before you hurt yourself."

OK. I guess I have no idea what you're trying to say. Originally you write: "Just so were clear, this is what I believe: If you believe that killing a baby is wrong, then you should also believe that killing an adult is wrong."

I took this to mean that you believe the following statement is true: "If you believe that killing a baby is wrong, then you should also believe that killing an adult is wrong." Frankly, I don't see how else I could have interpreted it.

But now you claim: "I did not say that *I* hold that belief."

So, just so were clear, is the following statement true?:

If you believe that killing a baby is wrong, then you should also believe that killing an adult is wrong.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:24 PM on February 28, 2006


Pseudoephedrine: a drug developed through rigorous animal testing. Nice choice for a user name.
posted by potch at 4:24 PM on February 28, 2006


If you believe that killing a baby is wrong, then you should also believe that killing an adult is wrong.

Why should being anti-baby-killing necessitate being anti-adult-killing? Just because you say so? You haven't explained that at all. There's no logical inconsistency in being against killing any baby, but being for the killing of certain adults.

I'm against killing ladybugs, but I'm for killing cockroaches. The fact that they both happen to be bugs really doesn't factor into my decision at all.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:02 PM on February 28, 2006


You also say that you believe in "necessary violence"; for instance, a defensive war. However, such a war would require killing, and you've already said that if killing a person is wrong, then killing any person must be wrong.

To resolve this without contradiction, we must therefore conclude that you believe that killing a person is not wrong. Are you a murderer, weirdoactor?



Too much obsession with the formal details of the statement without any consideration of the system itself. There doesn't always have to be a right moral choice in every situation...sometimes, every option an agent has is a wrong one. Killing might always be wrong, but will sometimes be less wrong than the alternative.

Why not interpret his statements more generously? There's no need to maim the conversation with this sort of diatribe.
posted by voltairemodern at 8:09 PM on February 28, 2006


voltairemodern writes "Why not interpret his statements more generously?"

Because his entire point is that those who advocate violence in some situations but who are opposed to violence in others are "moronic and illogical" because they "hold divergent beliefs".

I actually agree with you completely: a rule as simple as this one is impractical, and it fails under any serious scrutiny. The simple, impractical, rule was proposed by weirdoactor, however. I was merely trying to point out its impracticality.

He's disavowed his original statement, though, so I suppose it doesn't matter.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:01 PM on February 28, 2006


And he's the one who brought the tone down in the first place, with his "And seeing how reading comprehension doesn't seem to be your strong suit...." Those are fighting words!
posted by mr_roboto at 9:09 PM on February 28, 2006


Animal testing is not necessarily "cruel as fuck." Letting cures and treatments go undiscovered because of our ability to project human characteristics onto animals is short-sighted and misinformed.

Congratulations on completely missing the point.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 9:20 PM on February 28, 2006


Blendor: Letting cures and treatments go undiscovered because of our ability to project human characteristics onto animals is short-sighted and misinformed.

So, are you under the impression that animals' experience of pain, for example, is a projection of human characteristics?
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:20 PM on February 28, 2006


I guess I have no idea what you're trying to say.

I can see how my odd points could be confusing.

I took this to mean that you believe the following statement is true: "If you believe that killing a baby is wrong, then you should also believe that killing an adult is wrong." Frankly, I don't see how else I could have interpreted it.

Once again, you are leaving out an important piece of the "puzzle", such as it is. My statement, (not taken out of context is):

Just so were (sic) clear, this is what I believe: If you believe that killing a baby is wrong, then you should also believe that killing an adult is wrong. If you believe that harming animals is wrong, then you should also believe that harming humans is wrong.

What I meant by that statement (and I thought this was obvious; my apologies if it wasn't) is that the by the self-stated philosophy of the right-to-life movement, ALL LIFE IS PRECIOUS. Even the lives of those on death row; ergo I cannot understand how an intelligent, logical person could be simultaneously pro-life and pro-death penalty. I wonder what they'd do if a woman on death row was pregnant, and on life support...and could only be saved (and then executed) via an abortion.

But I digress. I was comparing the morality of being simultaneously pro-life and pro-capital punishment with the morality of being an animal rights activist who threatens/causes harm to a human (which is a type of animal, albeit a messy one that often shits where it sleeps). An apt comparison, me & my monkey's odd commentary notwithstanding.

I followed with this:

It's not that I disbelieve the possibility that someone could simultaneously hold divergent beliefs. I simply believe that doing so is moronic and illogical; and therefore thoroughly and abashedly human. I don't believe I have the power to change this behavior in others, but I do so enjoy pointing and laughing when I observe it; even in my own actions.

It's fun, the pointing and laughing. Please do not ruin my fun. Thanks!

But now you claim: "I did not say that *I* hold that belief."

I do not claim that. That is self-evident from what I've said previously in this thread, more than once.

So, just so were clear, is the following statement true?:

If you believe that killing a baby is wrong, then you should also believe that killing an adult is wrong.


Is that true? That depends on what you mean by "true". If you'd read and understood what I've posted previously in this thread (more than once), you'd know that it isn't true for me. But true is a tricky word. Like "murder". Murder can mean to take a life; it can also mean a "murder of crows". The word "true" can mean a measure of truth, in addition to meaning genuine, accurate, precise, and a variety of other meanings. I'm not sure how you can break down such a statement into "true" and "false"...I think this lovely quote says it best: your point of view is rather simple-minded and fails to take into account a whole range of situations.

Because his entire point is that those who advocate violence in some situations but who are opposed to violence in others are "moronic and illogical" because they "hold divergent beliefs".

Le sigh. That is NOT my entire point. Not at all. Unless I ask you to, or engage you in a contract to do so, please, PLEASE for the love of chaos DO NOT PRESUME TO SPEAK FOR ME. Much appreciated.

My entire point, if you were interested, is that holding diametrically opposing opinions simultaneously, and acting on those opinions in a violent manner is moronic, illogical, and decidedly human. I myself am happily moronic, illogical, and human; seeing as I am an atheist pagan anarcho-monarchist libertarian. So there.

And he's the one who brought the tone down in the first place, with his "And seeing how reading comprehension doesn't seem to be your strong suit...." Those are fighting words!

And you calling my point-of-view "simple minded"...that was you raising the tone? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Pull the other one.
posted by weirdoactor at 11:03 PM on February 28, 2006


As for whole body experiments - grow the necessary parts, possibly even a near-brainless human body - and test that.

Just don't let Bill Frist see a short video of it.
posted by ryokoblue at 11:05 PM on February 28, 2006


weirdoactor writes "Even the lives of those on death row; ergo I cannot understand how an intelligent, logical person could be simultaneously pro-life and pro-death penalty."

They believe that fetus' are innocent and that their lives are therefore of value, while those convicted of capital crimes have forfeited their right to live by violating the social contract.

Not complicated, really. Feel free to disagree, but don't pretend it's illogical nonsense.

weirdoactor writes "I do not claim that. That is self-evident from what I've said previously in this thread, more than once."

You're not making any sense. That's precisely what you claim; an exact quote, in fact. Sorry. I'm done.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:13 AM on March 1, 2006


Holy shit; hilarious...

weirdoactor: Just so were clear, this is what I believe: If you believe that killing a baby is wrong, then you should also believe that killing an adult is wrong.

mr_roboto: Also, you say that you hold the following belief:
"If you believe that killing a baby is wrong, then you should also believe that killing an adult is wrong."

weirdoactor: No. I did not say that *I* hold that belief. Please, please learn to read before you hurt yourself.

mr_roboto: OK. I guess I have no idea what you're trying to say. Originally you write: "Just so were clear, this is what I believe: If you believe that killing a baby is wrong, then you should also believe that killing an adult is wrong." . . . But now you claim: "I did not say that *I* hold that belief."

weirdoactor: I do not claim that. That is self-evident from what I've said previously in this thread, more than once.

Is this performance art? If so, I have to admit, it's mildly amusing.
posted by Stauf at 12:36 AM on March 1, 2006


You know, it occurred to me that maybe he meant to post in this thread.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:50 AM on March 1, 2006


I meant to post on this myself. Even though its a fair few years since I went to Oxford I was proud to go back to support the march last weekend, which was, from my biased perspective pretty successful - drawing an estimated 3 times the number of protestors as those of the anti-vivisectionists. I hope pro-test are able to organise themselves into something longer lasting than one march - its about time that the vast majority of ordinary people in the UK, who support responsible animal testing for medical purposes, have a say.
posted by prentiz at 5:32 AM on March 1, 2006


Right and wrongs of animal testing aside, the whole publicity machine around this guy is too slick for this to be anything but astroturf.
posted by bifter at 5:40 AM on March 1, 2006


bifter - having met him, albeit briefly, and indeed met the committee of students who ran the demo, I think its a bit hard to call the publicity machine slick! You only need to look at the website to see that...
posted by prentiz at 9:36 AM on March 1, 2006


Well, that's the point of astroturf - make something appear to be grassroots, when it is not. I think the hundreds of column inches, tv features and the carefully-drafted media friendly soundbites offered to journalists by protestors in attendance really spoke for themselves.

I don't have any particular reason to doubt his sincerity, and I'm not unsympathetic to his cause, but protest actions of that scale don't attract that amount of interest without a lot of work behind the scenes (and the profile of the leader - a precocious 16 year old - seems tailor made for publicists to work with).

No offense, but I really think that to view this as a spontaneous mass public movement, driven entirely by one 16 year old kid, falls on a scale somewhere between naiivity and wishful thinking. Best case is that the potential of his idea was recognised and co-opted sometime shortly after its conception, the worst is that the whole operation was planned out from the start. That's PR for you though.
posted by bifter at 12:38 PM on March 1, 2006


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