Thursday, February 21, 2008

UCLA circles the wagons



Apparently and expectedly, the 20 recent visitors to this blog from UCLA must not think too much of my recommendations for ways to de-escalate the conflict between the university's vivisectionists and anti-cruelty activists. Go figure. (Maybe they were people without much say in university policy, but something tells me that at least a few of them weren't students.)

This shouldn't surprise anyone of course, given the fact that UCLA, like esentially every other university in the country, has absolutely refused to discuss its use of animals in public in detail. It's almost as if they are embarrassed by what they do, worry about the public's reaction, and don't want there to be any substantive public dialog about the matter. Or, maybe, that is precisely what keeps them hunkered down.

Instead of actually engaging the public and talking openly about what they do, they have filed a law suit against an idea. The absurdity and naivete demonstrated by this hints at causes underlying the abject failure of animal models of human disease and drug response.

UCLA to seek court protection for animal researchers

The university said it will ask a Superior Court judge in Santa Monica to limit the activities of animal rights groups and activists, including websites.

By Richard C. Paddock, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
February 21, 2008

Seeking to protect scientists who conduct experiments using animals, UCLA will go to court today to request a temporary restraining order against animal rights groups and activists accused of harassing university researchers.

The university said it would ask a Superior Court judge in Santa Monica to limit the activities of five individuals and three organizations that maintain websites, including one that identifies researchers and lists their home addresses.

"We are hoping to send an important message that violence and harassment of our faculty is absolutely outrageous and totally inappropriate," said UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block. "We really want to act before someone gets hurt."

UCLA researchers have been the target of several attacks in recent months. Two weeks ago, someone left an incendiary device at the home of professor Edythe London, who uses vervet monkeys in nicotine-addiction research funded by tobacco giant Philip Morris. The device charred her front door before going out.

Earlier, animal activists claimed credit for breaking a window in London's house and using a garden hose to flood the ground floor, causing more than $20,000 in damage.

Attacks on other researchers have included two incendiary devices that didn't go off, one beneath a researcher's car and another that was apparently placed by mistake at the home of a neighbor.

In statements on their websites, activists said the attacks are warranted because scientists who conduct such experiments are torturing the animals.

They oppose all use of animals in research.

The university said it would seek a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction against the websites of the Animal Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Brigade, which have allegedly claimed responsibility for unlawful activities against UCLA staff and their homes.

Also to be named in the court action is the UCLA Primate Freedom Project, which is not affiliated with the university and whose website displays the photographs, home addresses and phone numbers of researchers under the heading "Targets."

Christine Garcia, an attorney who has represented animal activists in the past, said UCLA's plan to obtain a court order appeared to be part of a continuing attempt by the university to curb legal protests, such as residential picketing, by opponents of animal research.

richard.paddock@latimes.com

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