General AR Philosophy
The Torch of Reason, The Sword of Justice
speech by Tom Regan
'Tom Regan's impassioned speech combined the gentle torch of reason with
the warrior's sword of justice.' --Michael
Bell, World Day for Lab Animals, 1988, on the steps of the Federal Building, LCA
Rally, Westwood, CA
We are gathered here today to declare war on
vivisection! Our shared goal is not to reform this great evil but to abolish it
completely! It is not bigger cages we want, but empty cages! Anything less than
total victory will not satisfy us!
The position we hold -- the abolitionist
position -- is often said to be 'extreme,' and those of us who hold it are
said to be 'extremists.' The unspoken suggestions are that extreme positions
cannot be right, and that extremists must be wrong.
But I am an extremist when it comes to rape
-- I am against it all the time. I am an extremist when it comes to child abuse
-- I am against it all the time. I am an extremist when it comes to sexual
discrimination, racial discrimination -- I am against it all the time. I am an
extremist when it comes to abuse to the elderly -- I am against it all the
The plain fact is, moral truth often is
extreme, and must be, for when the injustice is absolute, then one must oppose
it -- absolutely. And the injustice of vivisection is absolute.
Which is why we are gathered here today,
to declare war on vivisection!
Another thing we are
said to be -- those of us who are abolitionists -- is emotional.
I mean, shame, shame, shame! We actually
have feelings. Like, don't dare love someone, don't dare sympathize with
somebody, don't dare care about another's hurt or loss, don't dare feel
anger or rage because others are the victims of injustice. I mean, grow up!
Mover over, Mr. Spock.
All of this, of course, is utter nonsense. A
life without feelings and emotions is the empty shell of a human life, not even
a life at all. Of course we know this. Even the apologists of vivisection know
this. I mean, I've seen some of them get mighty heated-up: red of face, swollen
of tongue, apoplectic of complexion, cardiac of heart, screaming of voice,
thumping of fist, wide of eye, on-end of hair... and wet-of-pants angry!
So enough of this self-righteous
denunciation of emotionalism. It's time to understand that strong emotions --
real deep anger, real deep rage, real deep hostility -- are perfectly natural
feelings to have in the face of real deep injustice.
Which is why we are gathered here today,
declare war on vivisection, and we will not be satisfied with anything less than
Yet another thing
we're said to be -- those of us who are abolitionists -- is ... ignorant.
I mean, we don't know nuthin'. Ask us about
DNA, and we think you're referring to some national rifle lobby group. B12?
That's a number what gets called in Bingo, ain't it? In-vivo research? That's
something funny those Eye-talians are doing to get their wine to taste as good
as Made-in-America ripple. I mean, what we're talking about is your basic Stone
Age ignorance here.
I love this part of our group portrait
-- the vivisection industry's picture of us -- the picture they pay hundreds
and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars to put out in the media. The
reason I love it is because it's so demonstrably false -- you have to wonder if
these people live on another planet.
Don't they know about the Physicians
Committee for Responsible Medicine? Don't these people know about the Medical
Research Modernization Committee? Don't these people know about Veterinarians
for Animal Rights? Or Nurses for Animal Rights? Or Psychologists for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals? Or the 750 practicing physicians in the state of
California who have denounced vivisection categorically?
Don't these people know about the
philosophers Peter Singer, Steve Sapontzis, Bernie Rollin, Susan and Lawry
Finsen, and Sidney Genden? Don't these people know about the theologians Andrew
Linzey and John Bowker? Don't they know about the legal theorists David Fauvre,
Christopher Stone, and Gary Francione?
Don't the paid-for apologists of vivisection
ever come out of their cushy offices to see what's going on in the real world?
Don't they understand that all the people, and all the groups I've mentioned --
representing the best, the most gifted, the most informed minds of our
generation -- are speaking out against vivisection?
Which is why we're gathered here today,
declare war on vivisection! We won't be satisfied with anything less than total
that's another thing we're said to be; that's a $100 word that means ... we
don't like anybody... not our mothers or fathers, not our husbands or wives, not
our sons or daughters, not our friends or lovers --not even Mother Theresa or
What we love are ... Lassie and Bambi -- animals.
And only animals, which is why we want to stop research on animals, according to
the medical industrial complex. According to them, nothing would please us more
than to have more and more human beings suffer, more and more human beings die.
Whattya say, Marquis de Sade? Let's party ... at Forest Lawn!
Who are these people who think they can get
away with misrepresenting the truth? Don't these people know about Tom and Betsy
Gidux -- Betsy committed in her professional life to helping the elderly, Tom,
a medical doctor, helping people of all ages? Don't they know about Dr. Bob
Greenberg, a pediatrician, who works to keep young children healthy? Don't they
know about David and Courtney Amman -- David, a school principal, Courtney, a
public school teacher? Don't they know about Shelley Shapiro, who works in the
emergency room of a major hospital, and who does volunteer work counseling rape
victims? Don't they know about Marly Cornell, who has taken her own experience
with her spina bifida daughter, Cody, and used this as a vehicle for helping
other parents whose children are physically or mentally disadvantaged?
These are the people -- the Tom and
Betsy Giduzs, the David and Courtney Ammans, the Shelley Shapiros and the Marly
Cornells -- these are the people who are the real heart and soul of the animal
rights movement -- people who stand as a part of, not a part from, the human
rights movement, people who work to promote good, and eliminate evil wherever it
raises its ugly head.
Which is why we are gathered here today, you
and I, to declare war on vivisection! And we will not be satisfied until
we've gotten every animal out of every cage in every laboratory!
Of course, what's
really ironic is how accurately the medical industrial complex describes itself
in efforts to describe its critics. Consider the charge of ignorance:
When we find out that 34% of post mortems
reveal that the now deceased victim was misdiagnosed: 34% were being treated for
diseases they did not have, 34% were not being treated for the diseases that
When we find out that 60-80% of the 250,000
coronary bypass patients, who undergo this surgery annually in the U.S., gain no
increased lifespan when compared with patients who forego this radical surgery;
When we find out that of the 900,000
caesarean deliveries performed in 1986 ' a full 24% of all infant births --
at least 50% were unnecessary;
When we find out that of the 120,000
pacemakers implanted during that same year, more than 50% were not medically
When we learn all this (and there is much,
much more to learn) -- when we find this out, even the most trusting among us
must begin to understand where the charge of ignorance really fits ...
All some people need to do is look in the
What is true in the
case of ignorance also is true in the case of compassion.
When we find out that one in every six
Americans has no medical insurance, that one million Americans annually are
denied needed medical care, that the infant mortality rate in the U.S. is among
the highest in the world, that a black child born in America is more likely to
die before reaching the age of one than an infant born in any Third World
countries, that some 300,000 black children are born in the U.S. every year
without their mothers having received a single minute of pre-natal care, that
black people who suffer from hypertension receive no medical assistance -- and
this for a simple reason: they can't afford it;
When we find out that what is true of blacks
in America, is comparably true of other minorities -- Hispanics and Native
Peoples, for example. If curative or preventive health care exists, they don't
get it because they can't afford it;
When we find out that the same is true for most
people who suffer from AIDS: precious few can afford the $8,000 a month it costs
for AZT, for example;
When we find out that for years the people
who received preferential treatment in the organ transplant program at that Holy
of Holies -- the University of Pittsburgh -- were not working class people
from the steel mills, not working class people from the mines, but potentates
from the Middle East who donated hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands
of dollars to the medical school;
When we find out that there are almost a
million elderly people who have incomes of less than $5,500 a year, two thirds
of whom do not qualify for Medicaid!
When we find out that seven in every 10
elderly who live alone face total impoverishment after only 13 weeks in a
nursing home (average cost: $22,000 a year; median income for the elderly:
When we find out where the truth lies, we
find out who lies. Come on, let's be honest!
If the medical industrial complex really
was as compassionate as it wants to believe it is, it would be out front leading
the parade to make essential health care available to everyone! But it's not out
front leading the parade; it's not even in the parade. The last thing the
medical industrial complex wants is something other than a profit-driven
And just in case you think I exaggerate --
just in case you think the medical industrial complex is the health care
industry's version of Mr. GoodWrench -- consider that the United States is only
one of two so-called "democracies" in the world that does not
guarantee necessary health care to each and every citizen -- regardless of age,
regardless of income, regardless of race; only one of two. The other
"democracy, in case you haven't already guessed, is ...South Africa. The
evil of apartheid is cut from the same defective moral cloth as vivisection;
both represent the pattern of special privilege over fairness, custom over
justice, power over respect, greed over compassion, which is why those of us
gathered here today are united not only in our opposition to apartheid in South
Africa, but also in our opposition to apartheid in medical science and medical
Today we declare war on vivisection, and
we will not be satisfied until every animal is out of every cage in every lab!
Terrorists ... terrorists
... terrorists ...
That's the new buzz word the medical complex
uses to describe animal rights advocates. We're no longer little old ladies in
tennis shoes. Today we're young thugs in face masks, armed with torches and
cans of spray paint, out for a Clockwork Orange evening of fun and games.
You've got to hand it to the vivisection
industry's PR people; they certainly know how to work an image to their
advantage. The problem is, the image doesn't correspond to reality. The basic
philosophy of the animal rights movement is Learn Baby, Learn! not Burn,
Learn the truth about how your tax dollars
are spent, learn the truth about the callousness and lack of compassion that
characterize so much of the medical industrial complex, learn the truth about
how ignorance and greed find a happy home in the medical community, learn the
truth about how animals are being treated and what they are doing there to begin
with, and why the public health is not being served by this science of death.
Learn, not burn, is the real philosophy of
One part of this learning, an important
part, involves the other side of the coin of violence, the side that does not
get reported, the side where people in the movement are on the receiving end;
people like Jane Tufton, from Pennsylvania, who finds dead animals in her
mailbox and on her front steps because of her "queer" views about
people like Judy Barad's husband, in Indiana, whose car windshield was smashed
by neighbors who didn't like his ideas about respect for sentient life;
people like Hope Sawyer Buyuchmichi, who has
been told many times by people who disagree with her views about animals, and
this a woman in her seventies, "we could touch a match to your place, then
what would you do?";
people like you and I, people like you and I
who are not strangers to threatening mail or phone calls at all hours of the day
Violence is more than a trashed lab. The
difference is, our side of the story -- the side where we are on the receiving
end -- doesn't get told.
And it will.
Because responsible people in the media are
beginning to understand that something profoundly important is happening, there
is a great awakening occurring, the animal rights movement has seized the
initiative and is gaining momentum! Our time has come!
We're declaring war on vivisection! And
we will not stop until we have every animal out of every cage in every
This call to arms
-- this declaration of war -- is not a call to violence. It is a call to
peace. The use of violence never really changes anything, only the identities of
the agents of violence. Morally, violence is indefensible; tactically it is
Trash a lab and the story that gets told is,
'Some irresponsible vandals trashed a lab.' The story that gets lost is what
was going on in that lab in the first place. In other words, the story that gets
told is the one that aids the vivisectors, not one that helps the animals.
No, the means we must use to wage our war
are those shaped and proven by Gandhi and Martin Luther King: The weapons of
nonviolence, but with a few differences.
Precisely because those whose interests we
represent (the tens of millions of animals in laboratories) are unable to tell
us what is being done to them, precisely because the government inspection
mechanisms for assuring compliance with the law have been shown time and time
again to be inadequate, it has been necessary for some in our movement to enter
some labs illegally -- there to document the waste and evil of vivisection done
in the name of science.
Just two things should be said here:
The first is: Thank God for the Animal
Liberation Front! Thank God for Last Chance! Thank God for Band of Mercy!
If it had not been for your courage and your
skill, those of us assembled here today would not know what we do. We owe you
and we thank you.
Secondly: Illegally obtained exposes of
laboratory atrocities will continue. And they will continue as long as the
medical industrial complex refuses to allow unannounced inspections of labs by
people from the animal rights movement. Until that day comes, I think it is true
-- and this is not a threat, this is a fact -- every lab in every research
facility is in jeopardy of an unannounced inspection, and I don't mean one done
by the government!
Because this is war!
And we're not going to be satisfied until
every animal is out of every cage in every laboratory!
Some may say that we
ask for too much when we ask for an open door policy concerning lab inspections.
Certainly it will take a great amount of pressure on the vivisection industry to
get them to let some daylight in. But there are some glimmers of hope.
Edwin Allen. Remember the name.
Edwin Allen is the Judge who recently heard
the case involving a break-in at the University of Oregon. Judge Allen got a
crash course in animal abuse when he was judicially obliged to watch such films
as Unnecessary Fuss and Britches. He didn't like what he saw.
"We have had some evidence here,"
he writes, "as to certain things which have been done which were disturbing
to me ... Those activities in the labs should be free and observable to any
member of the citizenry ...It would be highly appropriate," Judge Allen
writes, "to have these facilities open to the public"!
Open to the public!
Right on, Judge Allen! That's what I say!
Help us get our message out:
Learn, Baby, Learn! not Burn, Baby, Burn!
Know this: there's
room in our army for more than the Judge Allens. Anyone and everyone can join,
including many otherwise good, decent people who currently are in bondage in the
medical industrial complex. We welcome you into our ranks, if you will but quit
the evil of vivisection.
In the familiar Christian image, we hate the
sin, but love the sinner -- or at least we try to. To all you good, decent
people currently in the vivisection industry, therefore, we issue this healing
Lay down your weapons, lay down your
scalpels and prods, lay down your Pavlovian slings and restraint chairs, lay
down your stereotaxic devices and your rodent guillotines, lay down your wires
that shock and plates that burn, lay down your tanks that drown and chambers
that deprive, lay down your sutures that blind and vices that crush, lay down
these weapons of evil and join with us, you scientists who are brave enough and
good enough to stand for what is just and true.
We welcome you into our ranks -- ranks that
have known the likes of Plutarch and Ovid, Horace and Pythagoras, Plato and
Socrates, St. Francis and Leonardo da Vinci, the poets Shelley and Browning,
Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw, Collette and Harriet Beecher Stowe, Leo
Tolstoy, Gandhi, C.S. Lewis, Mark Twain -- join with us on this historic day
when, in concert with thousands and thousands of others throughout the world, we
declare war on vivisection!
We will not rest --
we will not rest!
-- until every animal is out of every cage in every lab! We can do this! We
shall do this! The day WILL come when all the cages will be empty, when ALL the
animals will be liberated, when all decent, compassionate people can shout with
joy, echoing Martin Luther King's famous words: "Free at last! Free at
"FREE AT LAST!"
Tom Regan is President of the
and Animals Foundation and author of Defending Animal Rights, The
Case for Animal Rights and The Struggle for Animal Rights, as well as the
author, editor and co-editor of numerous other animal rights books. He is also
director of the award-winning films, We Are All Noah and Voices I Have Heard.
Regan also received the Gandhi Award for his outstanding contributions to the
animal rights movement.