Can extremism be taken too far?

Yes, I’m aware of the inherent redundancy of the title. Anything “extremist” is already “too far”. People who believe you can rape and pillage the Earth and kill animals and destroy habitats for sport with no consequences are extremists, and people who believe you can harass, threaten and perpetrate violence on other human beings for even merely supporting humane scientific research are also extremists. And both of them are beyond the pale.

But there’s a line that you can cross that brings this latter sort of extremism, extremism against humans in defense of non-human animals, into the public eye — and that’s targeting scientists’ children.

Ringach presented a strong defense of the humane use of animals in biomedical research, too. And what was his reward for this?

The crazies have targeted his children again. In a post entitled UCLA February 2010 Wrap-Up: Demos Against Primate Abusers, an animal rights thug wrote:

As you can see from the pictures, Dario has a “rent-a-cop” in front of his home twenty-four seven! This must make his family feel like Dario is a mobster for some drug cartel, (although mobsters don’t commit nearly the gruesome, hideous things to innocent beings as Dario does to primates on a regular basis.) But Ringach is definitely a criminal who perpetrates horrific atrocities on primates, so we assume that his family must be getting used to living with a “rent a cop” outside.

More ominously, the thug continues:

As the pictures indicate, neighbors came out from many of the near-by houses, took leaflets and talked to activists about how much they hate their neighbor Dario for doing “hellish primate experimentation.” One, in fact, gave an activist the name of the school one of his offspring attends! Activists plan on legally leafleting the school in order to educate fellow students what their classmate’s father does for a living.

Scicurious nails the whole argument.

[A]nimal research is scary. It’s unknown. Most people don’t know how it works, and that ignorance inspires fear. When protesters carry frightening signs with pictures of research that was done decades ago, it’s not hard to imagine why people react so badly. And the fruits of animal research are not made public. Few people know of the dogs and pigs and cows that provided the first insulin allowing diabetics to live their lives. Few people know of the mice that are even now helping find treatments for cancer. What people see are the drugs on the shelf, in the syringe, the techniques at the hospital. No one thinks of where they come from. And so, out of ignorance or out of ethical disagreements, many people say that animal research is not necessary.

Many people like to say that animal research is not necessary. We have computers and cells, now, we don’t need animals! They are very wrong. First of all, a computer can only model the information we put into it. It can only represent and work with things we already know. And we know so very little about the human body, particularly the brain. If the calculations we put in are wrong, or even off by just a hair, the computer is going to give us the wrong answer, and lives could be at stake. As for cells, cells need medium in which to grow. That medium is provided by animals. Synthetic mediums simply do not work as well. And those cells have to come from somewhere. Not only that, cells in a dish cannot tell us everything that is going on in the body. A cell in a dish may say one thing, but a liver in a body may say something entirely different.

I honestly fear for the safety of the human beings who have been deigned expendable by the animal rights extremists. That they can’t get the necessity of this research is galling, given that it’s been explained time and time again. Good people like Janet Stemwhedel have tried to foster dialogue between the two camps on a number of occasions, and has gotten targeted herself for her trouble. It’s well beyond time to get mad.

Defend science as practiced by ethical, moral human beings. It’s all that stands between all life on Earth, and eternal oblivion.

Can extremism be taken too far?
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