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Humans: More Equal than other Animals?

Photo by Michael Thibault

STOP UBC Animal Research (also known as STOP) has attracted attention over the past few weeks due to its increased efforts to raise awareness about the apparent cruelty of research projects on UBC involving animals.  UBC uses about 100,000 animals annually in research, and have allegedly engaged in acts of cruelty on animals, such as electroconvulsive shock on monkeys and decapitating songbirds.

UBC is not exactly impressed with STOP, with the UBC VP Research John Hepburn warning against “misleading information” from the animal rights group.  Citing the recent actions by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), Hepburn stated, in a broadcast email, that “Animal activists use shock tactics in an effort to gain public sympathy via news media”.

What Hepburn fails to realize, or is unwilling to acknowledge, is that ALF and STOP are different organizations, and by generalizing animal rights activists as being all violent and attention-hungry, he is not doing academic research any justice.  We expect researchers and academics to prove conventional wisdom wrong or to tell us to heed caution when making assumptions.  By playing politics and trying to deflect the topic, it is obvious that STOP are achieving their goals.

However, what I don’t get is the demonstration in downtown Vancouver last week organized by STOP and PETA.  The essence of it was for the general public to see the horrors of animal experimentation by getting the protesters to pose naked inside cages or laying on operation tables.  Great, you’re trying to make a point, but was there no other way to get the message across? You’re attracting attention, but is it the “oh wow, I can’t believe UBC can do such horrible things” variety, or “nice abs/nice rack”?  Are you really that pessimistic about the human condition and the rationality in humans to believe that the only way to get people to be aware of the issue is to make a fool of yourself? In a few words: good cause, bad promotion.

Are we really going to be able to make scientific advances without animal experimentation?  It’s hard to tell, but STOP certainly thinks so, as they have an entire page on their website dedicated to the alternatives to animal research, so there isn’t the argument of “well we can’t test it on human beings, so we have got to test it on animals.”  Although I do not expect UBC to suddenly take a moral stance on this and admit that they are torturers of fluffy animals, they should, at the very least, disclose what these animals have gone through.

For the Ubyssey article:

For the STOP website:

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Response to Humans: More Equal than other Animals?

  1. Denise McFarlane says:

    It is unfortunate that groups that are based on compassion to animals need to resort to ‘shock tactics’ to generate media attention. However I commend STOP for the attention they got, it is well deserved. And even if half of the onlookers are unhappy with the artistic display of the cruelty that goes on behind closed doors at UBC, then at least the other half has become aware of the issues and even if only a handful of people want to become active in exposing UBC’s hidden cruelly then the protest was a great success. UBC is being exposed, job well done STOP.

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