Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Notion of Tansparency - This Too Shall Pass

The recent public relations scheme to make the labs more transparent in order to make the public believe that hurting and killing animals in labs isn't so bad is probably the result of vivisectors not being able to come up with a winning argument in answer to the truth behind the chant, "Nothing to hide? Let us inside!"

In modern times, they have ginned up a handful of excuses for keeping the public in the dark about what is going on behind their locked doors. They say things like: "visitors will disturb the animals," "the animals' health would be put at risk," or, in the case of activists, "they might go berserk."

Those claims are a harder sell when it comes to the vivisectors' reticence at providing copies of photographs or videos. Then the arguments become something like "people wouldn't understand what they are seeing," or, "the photos would divulge trade secrets."

But really, the reasons are the same ones that drove vivisectors from more than a century ago to keep what they were doing a secret. When their neighbors found out, they picked up pitchforks and ran them out of town. It is the vivisectors' recognition of their neighbors' potential outrage and disgust that explains more accurately why the labs are so secretive.

It isn't likely that the labs will become more transparent. They might develop little quasi-Potemkin villages to help with the big hood-wink, but the people involved are, it seems to me, constitutionally incapable of recognizing what it is that the public is slowly coming to understand, namely, that animals are people too, beings with interests, concerns, emotions, precisely the things that are said to endow us with inherent rights. This means that if they proceed with a transparency gambit, it will be short-lived because they are unable to see animals through the eyes of the growing number of people who recognize them for who they are.

A case in point is a picture used to introduce an article from a recent edition of News from Science titled "'Gene drive' passes first test in mammals, speeding up inheritance in mice.":
This mouse and her pups are being used here simply as props. Mice are adverse to open fields; they naturally hide and avoid being out in the open, particularly during the day. In this image, the mouse and her pups appear to have been placed on a white surface and brightly lit. It is very likely that the open field coupled with the exposure of her pups is causing the mouse significant anxiety.

Science magazine is a long-time defender of vivisection. It is using it's wide circulation to help promote the idea that vivisectors are pushing for openness and transparency; but the editors were blind to the plight and likely distress of this mouse. This ethical blindness is at the root of every failed attempt to promote and defend the the use of animals in harmful experiments by engaging with knowledgeable critics. Vivisectors can't really prepare for such encounters anymore than a deaf person can prepare to discuss the tonal qualities of musical instruments.

But it is apparently impossible to know what you are incapable of knowing, and so, every so often a vivisector can be convinced participate in a public debate or speak frankly about what is happening in a lab, but these events are very rare because even a blind person gets burned when they touch a flame.

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