Sunday, October 28, 2007

And why aren’t you mad?

A few of my last posts have been really mean. But I’m so very angry.

The use of monkeys in research acts as a lens for better understanding the nature of our relationship with other species and even with each other.

Animals consumed or otherwise harmed in research amount to but a very tiny sliver of the animals consumed by us for all other reasons.

The laws governing laboratory animal care and use are significantly more restrictive than those governing agricultural or other use. Monkeys make up only about .3% (less than one third of one percent) of all the mammals and birds used in research, according to some sources. There are unique legal requirements for their care and use, most notably the requirement of a plan to provide some psychological enrichment.

There are very large laboratory complexes dedicated to the use of monkeys that concentrate researchers and animal care specialists in one place. The use of other common species in the U.S. is widespread and more or less evenly dispersed throughout university and private labs.

With the publicly funded large primate labs we have a sort of captive ant colony living between glass plates we can observe and evaluate – in spite of their efforts to keep their work hidden and secret. And, because of the special laws governing the laboratory use of animals, and the special laws dealing with monkeys, and the concentration of expertise and resources at these large primate labs, they present us with a best-case real-time example of regulated animal use in the U.S.

This casts problems like the Vilas Monkeys, Jennifer Hess, Ei Terasawa, and the 628 Pieces of Primate Research Garbage in a special light.

Repeated lying, hush money, unmonitored run-away research, and blatant cover up must be very common throughout the nation’s animal labs. Or else, the University of Wisconsin is a wild exception.

And the animals are suffering horribly. This is the baseline reality against which all the problems must be considered.

And the claimed benefit to us of their suffering is – at best – debatable.

And, we know more now about the minds of other animals than ever before. Few serious students still argue that animals don’t have minds. Monkeys are said to have minds very like our own. It is the presence of mind in animals – particularly monkeys – that is used as a justification for very cruel experiments each and every year.

And, like bombs and secret prisons, this is an evil enterprise conducted in my name, with taxes taken from me.

And then, as if things couldn’t be any worse, a local Madison magazine has its collective editorial head so far up its ass (I’m back to being mean) that it names one of the primate vivisectors “Person of the Year.” Egad. Strap the suicide bombs on me now!

And, an anti-domestic violence group sings the praises of the largest contract animal testing lab in the world – cited on multiple occasions by the USDA for inadequate veterinary care and various animal care and use violations.

Everyone should be angry. Everyone.

I know that everyone isn’t angry, and I get even more pissed off when I consider the reasons they aren’t, which is commonly money or ignorance; sometimes its cruelty, sometimes callousness, but usually just plain old disinterest. Ho hum, they’re only animals, who cares if they're suffering?

When the Jews were being gassed and melted into soap, did anyone in Germany give a damn? I suspect that those who did were in the tiny tiny tiny minority and that the doctors experimenting on them, the police arresting those who complained, the government and universities who colluded, were smug in their power to control public sentiment.

If you aren’t mad too, then you’re clearly part of the problem.


Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of the cause, but find it immensely insulting and racist for you to put a Muslim women with strapped with bombs. This plays into a common perception that is highly problematic. Please take it off. Thank you.

Rick Bogle said...

Find me a picture of someone else stapped with bombs ready to sacrifice him or herself and I'll swap it out. Frankly, I sympathize with her frustration; don't you? Why do you see this as racist?