by Lisa G. Leming

Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow on animals rights issues at the Discovery Institute and author of numerous articles slamming the Animal Rights movement. He is also a frequent contributor to the The National Review (conservative publication). The Discovery Institute is described by Wikipedia as a conservative Christian think-tank based on the apologetics of C.S. Lewis who was ironically, a harsh critic and vocal opponent of vivisection. (1) Other agendas include Intelligent Design. Like most detractors, he flaunts his naïveté as if he has just made some amazing discovery. It's almost as if they are wondering why all of these animals don't just write letters to editors, sue their employers, etc. (True, institutionalized abuse of animals is a conspiracy of silence which is so shocking, one almost never gets used to it.) In one of his articles he asserts that nobody in their right mind would abuse an animal as if it were a remarkable aberration and not a daily occurrence times millions. He has also written a series of mind numbing rags covering everything from euthanasia to cloning to Terry Schiavo. They carp endlessly on the the sanctity of human life narrowly defined according to the Discovery Institute.

Aha! He salivates gleefully in an essay like an inquisitor rubbing his hands in anticipation of a forced confession under torture. Nothing that PETA has done for animals shall atone for the unforgivable sin of comparing the life of an animal with a human life! Why are people so hung up on this? The point is that it is always fought tooth and nail by defenders of the status quo. There are prisoners who have never bonded with another human, including their own parents, but are able to bond with a dog or a cat in a pet prison program. Is Terry Schiavo fifty or a hundred times more valuable than 50 healthy chimps living in cramped filth, isolation and terror in the research lab? Are they just so much garbage to be used and discarded on a whim, as opposed to the sanctity of keeping a brain dead woman in diapers technically alive in a nursing home? It sounds more like arrogance and pride to me. Perhaps it is all just smoke and mirrors because the real arguments* don't hold water. He also makes the usual, insulting comparisons of rescues and other nonviolent activities( including free speech) to terrorism.

Let's get a few things straight; 18 million animals a year (that are actually counted) killed in research in the U.S., is terrorism; (3) Millions of farm animals living spaces not large enough for them to turn around on factory farms, is terrorism; strapping monkeys to chairs and electrocuting their penises until they scream, is terrorism; slicing the skin of rabbits open and spraying hair spray in, is terrorism; performing operations without anesthesia, is terrorism; anally electrocuting 4.3 million foxes a year for their fur, is terrorism. At what point does rescuing these poor animals, after every other legal means has been exhausted, become a rescue as opposed to terrorism? How about the right to film or document treatment of them (most of which has to be done undercover, break ins or other illegal means.) How about simply questioning or criticizing the validity or even usefulness of animal torture? I have even heard this referred to as terrorism.

Wesley Smith is outraged but not about the abuse of animals. He is outraged that Ingrid Newkirk or anyone dare to make comparisons to the holocaust or slavery. She made the comparisons and did not apologize! She is and always has been ... guilty! Who is he to demand an apology? What kind of selective criticism is this, in the face of such monstrous institutionalized abuse of animals. I see no such equivalent for vivisectionists or others who abuse animals for a living. No explanations or justifications required! How remarkable that the torture and deaths of millions of animals per year have escaped the scrutiny of one so scathingly critical of virtually every other aspect of science and medicine!

Is it an inappropriate comparison? Beings bought, sold, imprisoned, murdered, tortured and used as lab specimens all at the whim and caprice of their betters. They are human! Cries he defender of the sanctity of human life! Nothing like 2020 hind sight. Actually, slaves were thought to be soulless, mental inferiors who could not feel suffering as a white person would and therefore their treatment was acceptable. They could be treated well, however this was again entirely at the disposal of their betters and they received no broad protection or esteem. Christian authority has little to be proud of where the history of slavery is concerned. Ministers would issue stern, biblical warnings to slaves on stealing from their masters by running away. Jews were also thought to be soulless inferiors, persecuted relentlessly until the culmination of brutality during the holocaust. During this time, they were used as lab specimens by prominent physicians of the time, often operated on without anesthesia.

It is anyone's choice to blind themselves to institutionalized animal abuse, which affects virtually every aspect of life on the planet. However, it is nobody's job to interrogate or define the ethics for helping animals. There is no wrong way to help animals. There is also no right way to abuse, neglect or ignore their plight.

foot notes:

(1) "...we sacrifice other species to our own not because our own has any objective metaphysical privilege over others, but simply because it is ours. It may be very natural to have this loyalty to our own species, but let us hear no more from the naturalists about the "sentimentality" of anti-vivisectionists. If loyalty to our own species--preference for man simply because we are men--is not sentiment, then what is?"

"If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalist for the same reasons." C. S. Lewis (novelist and essayist)

C.S. Lewis's essay on vivisection

(2) The Journal of American Medicine reported in 1998 106,000 people a year die from adverse reactions to drugs tested on animals. Researchers from Harvard and Boston Universities concluded that medical measures (drugs and vaccines) accounted for between 1 and 3.5 % of the total decline in mortality rate since 1900. Scores of animals were killed in the quest to find cures for tuberculosis, scarlet fever, small pox and diphtheria. Dr. Edward Kass of Harvard Medical School, asserts that the primary credit for the virtual eradication of these diseases must go to improvements in public health, sanitation and general standard of living.

After 30 years of fighting cancer with animal testing, cancer deaths are up - people with cancer live longer, but more contract it. Many studies published in scientific journals have linked western diets to a host of diseases, including cancer. If animal testing funds were diverted to programs encouraging dietary change, we would finally see disease rates plummet - and by ethical means. Instead, governments support the inhumane factory farming industry, encouraging westerners to consume cheaply, far more meat than is healthy. They then support the animal testing industry to combat the diseases they encourage.