Animal Protection > Worldwide Actions > United States

In his lecture about animal rights, Dr. Steven Best says a break-in
and vandalism on the University of Iowa campus were justified.

January 21, 2005

Iowa City, Ia. - Animal rights activists are modern abolitionists fighting to free enslaved and mistreated animals, said Steven Best in a lecture at the University of Iowa Thursday.

"New abolitionists, to put it plainly, seek not bigger cages, but no cages," said Best, who is chairman of the philosophy department at the University of Texas, El Paso.
    Best's lecture, "The New Abolitionism: Civil Rights, Animal Liberation, and Moral Progress," was part of the school's Martin Luther King Jr. Day events. It drew more than 100 people, many of whom disagreed with Best's ideas during a question-and-answer session.
    Animal researchers at the U of I targeted in an attack on Spence labs and Seashore Hall this fall said they are angry that university officials allowed Best, who has been linked to the Animal Liberation Front, to speak on campus so soon after the Nov. 14 break-in.
    "It's a continuation of terrorism against us and makes a hostile work environment," said Amy Poremba, a psychology professor whose office and labs were vandalized.
    ALF took credit for the attack in which more than 400 animals were stolen, computers bashed and documents destroyed.
    Psychology faculty members were advised against attending Best's lecture for their own safety, Poremba said.
    Best discussed the break-ins in his lecture, calling the acts justified.
    "They are not stealing animals, because the animals were no one's to own," he said. The activists "did not commit a wrong, they righted a wrong."
    Poremba emphasized the value of animal research for discovering cures or medicines for as-yet-unsolved diseases.
    "For the general public, people who have cancer or learning disabilities, do they want the research stopped? That's what these people want," she said.
    Best called medical research using animals a "failure," citing drugs that were tested as safe for use on animals but are harmful to some humans, and said it's time to look to alternatives.