Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Vivisectors Unite!

A friend sent me a new example of the seeming endless stream self-serving pro-vivisection propaganda. (More Institutional Support for Animal Research Is Needed. Opinion. Mar Sanchez. Inside Higher Ed. October 19, 2017.) At first, it seemed pretty typical: Christine Lattin, a morally bereft bird vivisector at Yale University who was called out by Peta, was being defended by Mar Sanchez, a morally bereft monkey vivisector at the Yerkes primate death camp. It was somewhat, if darkly, humorous that monkey vivisector Sanchez, was urging more institutional support for vivisectors. I mean, come on. The institutions already provide them with lavish salaries, require almost no work from them, shield the details of their cruelties and violations from the public, make ridiculous claims about the potential value of their work, spend huge sums to build them laboratories, and provide them with golden retirement parachutes. More support? Yeah, right.

But all that is just the regular bill-of-fare. A vivisector was called out and another vivisector said vivisection is great. What caught my eye was mention of the University of Wisconsin, Madison by Sanchez. She starts out: “The University of Wisconsin Madison is a leading example of institutional openness on animal research and preparedness to respond to animal-rights extremists.”

Now, I don’t expect a Yerkes monkey vivisector to know too awful much about UW-Madison’s openness about it animal research, but it does seem like she would do a little checking before making a claim like that. Or, of course, maybe she’s right and UW-Madison is indeed a leading example of what passes as institutional openness about the atrocities occurring in its labs.

Coincidentally, the very same day that the editorial from Sanchez was published, Oct. 19, 2017, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the Animal Legal Defense Fund had prevailed in a lawsuit they had filed almost exactly three years earlier regarding records that the university had refused to give them in response to a public records request. (Animal rights group wins court fight for UW monkey research records. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Oct. 19, 2017.)

The records in question were related to monkey vivisectors Ned Kalin and Richard Davidson, who were planning on maternally depriving infant rhesus monkeys. They claimed it was a well-known and proven method of causing anxiety in infant monkeys, citing the cruelties of his infamous predecessor at the university, Harry Harlow.

After I discovered and publicized their plans, a couple of years of campaigning led to them abandoning that small part of the project with the wild explanation that he had discovered that maternal deprivation really doesn’t cause anxiety in infant monkeys. Paradoxically, Sanchez has cited and used Harlow’s methods in her own nightmarish experiments on infant monkeys to disrupt their “emotional regulatory brain circuits,” precisely what Kalin wanted to do. An aside, when I looked at the piece in Inside Higher Ed, it had one comment. It was from Rick Born, a monkey vivisector from Harvard. He thought it was a great piece.

And, in fact, the University of Wisconsin, Madison has a long, extensive, and well documented history of obfuscation and stonewalling. The exemplar case, involving Ned Kalin’s experiments on the brain chemistry of fear in his monkey victims, was the university’s decision to destroy 628 videotapes and myriad other records documenting decades of research at the Wisconsin primate center to keep the Kalin tape from being seen by the public. Sanchez’s claim: “The University of Wisconsin Madison is a leading example of institutional openness on animal research and preparedness to respond to animal-rights extremists,” was just more of the same confused, inaccurate gibberish fed to a gullible public to advance the fortunes of some of the most unethical and morally bereft people on the planet.

But as quirky and oddly coincidental as all that cruelty and false claims are, they were not what grabbed my attention. In the article, Sanchez pointed to the “the Common Ground on Animal Research Initiative within the university and the surrounding community,” an “initiative” being led by the university’s prior PR front man, Eric Sandgren. That surreal reality warp is what caught my attention.

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