A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Are You an Extremist?


The nation’s largest coalition of vivisectionists has a new publication advising people who experiment on animals how best to combat the people it calls “animal rights extremists.”

So, who fits the definition of an extremist? According to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), an extremist is anyone who does anything outside of “participating in ethical, legal, and civil discourse to promote their viewpoint.”

As if having discussions has ever brought an end to atrocities.

Sure, we don’t endorse the rare instances of violence or threats of violence. But according to the folks at FASEB, extremism includes:

  • Seeking to “publicly discredit the organization.”
  • Exposing “financial backers.”
  • Demonstrating against airlines and other companies that transport animals to laboratories from breeding factories in foreign countries, or that sell equipment, food, etc., “thereby weakening the supply and support chain, and negatively impacting the primary target’s ability to conduct research with animals.”

Extremism, they say, also includes:

  • All demonstrations and protests;
  • Email campaigns and petitions;
  • Disruption of business (including email bombardments of the laboratory);
  • Personal confrontations;
  • Silent vigils outside a vivisector’s home;
  • Infiltrating a laboratory to obtain information or take photos and/or video footage.

Asked by Science magazine to comment on the report, the chairman of the board of the Humane Society of the U.S., Eric Bernthal, said: “If you’re going to give advice to researchers about how to solve this problem, the most constructive way is to use fewer animals in research, not assemble crisis communication teams.”

True enough. But he added, “There are still some circumstances where animal research is vitally important.”

In fact, there are no circumstances where exercising violence toward defenseless beings is justifiable.

In fact, there are no circumstances where exercising violence toward defenseless beings is justifiable, let alone vitally important.

And people always justify violence – whether torture of humans, war against other peoples, subjugation of women and children, or experimentation on other animals – on the basis of its vital importance. (Check out former V.P. Dick Cheney for examples of all of these!)

This also highlights the difference between welfarism and abolitionism. Welfarists seek to improve conditions for animals being killed in laboratories or in factory farms, or dying in zoos and circuses. (The HSUS policy on vivisection is here, and its work on behalf of laboratory animals is described here.)


Abolitionists, by contrast, will accept nothing less than a complete end to the torture and killing. (It’s like the difference between the no-kill movement, which says that killing homeless pets is plain wrong, and humane organizations that seek “better” ways to kill them, like by lethal injection rather than gas chambers.)

Welfarism seeks to reduce the violence by compromise, conceding that some level of violence is acceptable. In his interview with Science, Bernthal says that “the HSUS has achieved its animal welfare goals by working with legislators.” But when it comes to vivisection, legislation has accomplished precious little. Today, more animals, not fewer, are dying in laboratories.

Abolitionists, by contrast, will accept nothing less than a complete end to the torture and killing.And in another compromise, the industry was given a giant workaround when the federal government agreed not to classify most of the animals in labs, including mice, rats, and birds as animals at all, so they don’t have the protections that apply to “animals”.

No surprise, then, that a 2012 report by the San Francisco Chronicle documented how the much-respected University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) cut off the toes of mice without anesthesia, cut birds open without anesthesia, and left more of these “non-animals” to die of thirst.

How many more horrors must there have been at an institution that experiments its way through about 800,000 animals per year? How many millions of other animals and “non-animals” suffered and died at hundreds of other laboratories across the country” How much of it was vitally important work? What has legislation done for any of them?

The fact is much of the sickness that plagues modern civilization is the direct result of industries feeding factory farmed food and other products loaded with poisonous chemicals to unwitting people. Spending a few billion dollars on stopping that, rather than on testing out yet more poisons on helpless animals, would make quite a difference to our health.

Last year, an independent study concluded that billions of dollars of research had gone down the drain in experiments on mice that had proved completely useless when applied to humans. And three months later, another study “cast grave doubt on the safety testing of hundreds of thousands of consumer products, food additives and industrial chemicals.” All of these animals suffered and died in what what had been deemed vitally important research.

It took the abolitionists to bring down the slave industry in the face of those who argued that this would wreck the entire Western economy.No, in order to bring an end to any of this violence and horror, it always takes the so-called “extremists” to get the attention of the welfarists and the legislators.

It took the abolitionists to bring down the slave industry in the face of lobbyists and attorneys who insisted that abolition would wreck the entire Western economy.

It took the “extremism” of the suffragettes to achieve rights for women. And it took pressure from “extremists” to bring an end to child labor in this country and to establish civil rights for African Americans.

And make no mistake, as the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiments so glaringly demonstrated, if the vivisection industry can get away with sticking it to defenseless humans, they’ll go for that, too.

So when the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology tries to equate a tiny handful of arsonists with the tens of thousands of people (both abolitionist and welfarist) who demonstrate against the horror of vivisection, it’s nothing more than the last desperate lie of a multi-billion-dollar industry profiting from the torture and death of millions of defenseless animals every year.