At UConn, animal rights activist Justin Goodman protests the use of monkeys in experiments.

Hard not to agree, really.
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This is a true story. During my farming period, we sold six calves to a farm about 10 miles away. One afternoon I was working in front of the barn, when I looked up to see the calves come ambling up the driveway. They'd escaped, and were coming home.

Nothing remarkable about that, you might think. But consider this: these calves didn't have a map or anything. Whatever intelligence they possessed, in whatever form, was sufficient for them to find their way back over 10 miles of country road. Second, whatever kind of ĘsoulĘ you are prepared to attribute to animals, clearly these calves were, for lack of a better way of putting it, homesick. They suffered. They missed something, and they took intelligent steps to restore their well-being.

Over the last couple of weeks, Justin Goodman has been protesting the use of rhesus macaque monkeys in a neuroscience experiment at UConn, chaining himself to a fence. According to a report last week, two of the monkeys have died. It is my understanding that the monkeys are being used to study brain activity -- a hole is drilled in their heads and electrodes are attached to their brains. The study is supposed to be helpful in understanding brain issues in humans. I'm going to assume that the researchers treat the monkeys as well as possible (though cruelty, taunting and deliberate torture of research animals in universities has been documented. Think of Abu Ghraib. When people get an opportunity to use power sadistically, some of them can't resist). Still, I'm sure we can all agree that these monkeys aren't having a good time, that they are likely to be frightened and distressed. They're suffering.

According the the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), about 100 million animals are used in experiments around the world every year.
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But somehow too, we know every time we have a real encounter with an animal that it possesses a dignity of being that equals our own to some extent, and that needs to be respected. I think it's great that Mr. Goodman has reminded us of this. Oh, and incidentally, if you believe the Buddhists, any failure on our part to extend compassion to all sentient beings will come back to bite us down the road.