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The Terror of "Animal Rights" By: Alex Epstein
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, February 06, 2004


The "animal rights" movement is celebrating its latest victory: an earlier, more painful death for future victims of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's disease.

Thanks to intimidation by animal rights terrorists, Cambridge University has dropped plans to build a laboratory that would have conducted cutting-edge brain research on primates. According to The Times of London, animal-rights groups "had threatened to target the centre with violent protests ... and Cambridge decided that it could not afford the costs or danger to staff that this would involve."

The university had good reason to be afraid. At a nearby animal-testing company, Huntingdon Life Sciences, "protestors" have for several years attempted to shut down the company by threatening employees and associates, damaging their homes, firebombing their cars, even beating them severely.

Many commentators and medical professionals in Britain have condemned the animal-rights terrorists and their violent tactics. Unfortunately, most have cast the terrorists as "extremists" who take "too far" the allegedly benevolent cause of animal rights. This is a deadly mistake. The terrorists' inhuman tactics are an embodiment of the movement's inhuman cause.

While most animal-rights activists do not inflict beatings on animal testers, they do share the terrorists' goal of ending animal research--including the vital research the Cambridge lab would have conducted.

There is no question that animal research is absolutely necessary for the development of life-saving drugs, medical procedures, and biotech treatments. According to Nobel Laureate Joseph Murray, M.D.: "Animal experimentation has been essential to the development of all cardiac surgery, transplantation surgery, joint replacements, and all vaccinations." Explains former American Medical Association president Daniel Johnson, M.D.: "Animal research--followed by human clinical study--is absolutely necessary to find the causes and cures for so many deadly threats, from AIDS to cancer."

Millions of humans would suffer and die unnecessarily if animal testing were prohibited. Animal rights activists know this, but are unmoved. Chris DeRose, founder of the group Last Chance for Animals, writes: "If the death of one rat cured all diseases, it wouldn't make any difference to me."

The goal of the animal-rights movement is not to stop sadistic animal torturers; it is *to sacrifice and subjugate man to animals*. This goal is inherent in the very notion of "animal rights." According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the basic principle of "animal rights" is: "animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment"--they "deserve consideration of their own best interests regardless of whether they are useful to humans." This is in exact contradiction to the requirements of human survival and progress, which demand that we kill animals when they endanger us, eat them when we need food, run tests on them to fight disease. The death and destruction that would result from any serious attempt to respect "animal rights" would be catastrophic--for humans--a prospect the movement's most consistent members embrace. "We need a drastic decrease in human population if we ever hope to create a just and equitable world for animals," proclaims Freeman Wicklund of Compassionate Action for Animals.

To ascribe rights to animals is to contradict the purpose and justification of rights--to protect the interests of humans. Rights are moral principles necessary for men to survive as human beings--to coexist peacefully, to produce and trade, to provide for their own lives, and to pursue their own happiness, all by the guidance of their rational minds. To attribute rights to nonrational, amoral creatures who can neither grasp nor live by them is to turn rights from a tool of human preservation to a tool of human extermination.

It should be no surprise that many in the animal-rights movement use violence to pursue their man-destroying goals. While these terrorists should be condemned and imprisoned, that is not enough. We must wage a principled, intellectual war against the very notion of "animal rights"; we must condemn it as logically false and morally repugnant.


Alex Epstein is a writer for the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) in Irvine, California, which promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Send comments to reaction@aynrand.org.


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