Printer Friendly

The roar over animal rights.


RADICAL ANIMAL RIGHTS GROUPS NUMBER OVER 100. Although animal rights organizations primarily target the research community, any industry or institution involved in food or animal products in any way has the potential to be a target.

In describing the movement and its history, we must keep in mind an important distinction--that between the animal welfare movement and the animal rights movement. Animal welfare people do not use violence. They do not engage in break-ins or fire bombings to prevent the use of animals in research. Over the last 10 or 12 years, their concern has been in two major areas. The first is in passing laws to prevent the use of animals obtained from pounds. Their second major thrust has been to improve the care of animals kept in research institutions. Through a combination of peaceful methods and skillful lobbying, they have been successful in both endeavors.

Universities and most large companies have developed public policy statements on the use and care of reseach animals. Part of the statement by my company reads: "While there is a considerable effort to develop alternatives to animal research and testing, animals will continue to be essential for the development of products which improve the quality of life. . . . Although humane treatment is primarily a moral and ethical responsibility, it is important to remember that scientific results rely on well-treated and well-cared-for animals. . . . Therefore, while the use of animals will continue to be necessary, Monsanto is totally committed to the assurance that all animals are treated with the utmost respoect and care."

This statement may be similar to your own. If your organization does not have such a statement, recommend that one be developed. No sane and caring person would argue with the idea of humane treatment for animals. Likewise, no one in industry wants to use someone's lost dog to test a new drug. The animal welfare movement has enjoyed success because its goals were reasonable and made sense. Because of this, their ideas found public appeal.

Our concern is not with the animal welfare movement. It is with the terminal rights movement. Briefly speaking, the philosophical difference between the animal welfare movement and the animal rights movement is that the former insists on clean cages, while the latter demands there be no cages at all and is willing to burn your building to enforce its point of view.

No one among us would argue about clean cages. However, when we start talking about no cages at all, one has to ponder what exactly that means. The London Times expressed our society's relation to animals eloquently. According to the times, "Everything you swallow. . . . Everything you wear. . . . Everything you touch. . . . It is not just a question of cosmetics, or medicines, or pesticides. The safety of your life--no matter what you do or where you do it --is built upon a foundation of animal sacrifice."

The Times went on to say that only by eating grass and living naked on a mountaintop could we manage to escape the benefits of animal experimentation. The animal rights movement is led by humans who have made the executive decision for society that all creatures are created equal, which is to say the moral and legal status usually reserved for humans also applies to anything that crawls, flies, or swims. They seek to prohibit the use of animals for food, clothing, fur, pleasure, transportation, and sport. And in particular, they oppose the use of animals for scientific and medical research.

It is critical for the security professional to understand this philosophy. If anything that flies, crawls, or swims is equal to humans, then an otherwise reasonable person can play host to a whole series of ideas that can rationalize the destruction of property, the theft of research animals, and the risk of injury or death to humans. Many of these people cut their teeth on the social issues of the '60s. They see themselves as the vanguard of a cause whose time has come and the caretakers of a new idea, but it's an idea that isn't new at all.

The first known use of animals in research was in ancient Egypt. Animals were used to study body functions. The Romans used pigs and apes to prove the theory that veins carry blood, rather than air. The use and abuse of animals has been debated all along.

So the idea of whether it is right to use animals in research has been around at least as long as recorded history. Today's advocates of animal rights are more knowledgeable and sophisticated than those in the past. The movement is more complex and supports wider ranges of opinion.

The grass roots movement we're dealing with is believed to have its foundation in several books published in the early 1970s. The most important was by an Australian philosopher named Peter Singer. Singer's book, Animal Liberation, has been called the Bible of the animal rights movement.

Originally published in 1975, the first version sold 300,000 copies. Earlier this year, a new edition of the book was issued, this time marketed to mainstream readers. In 1975, Singer's contribution to the resurrected debate on the use of animals was to philosophize that animals have rights, just as humans have rights. And since it's wrong for humans to discriminate against other humans, it is also wrong for humans to discriminate against animals.

Singer deplored the historical attitude of humans toward animals. He called it "a form of prejudice no less objectionable than racism or sexism." He went on to urge that the "liberation" of animals should be the next great cause after the women's and civil rights movements had their day in the headlines.

There is little doubt that Singer's call to action gave activists the idea that animals properly belong in the exploitation category--right next to slaves and child laborers. Singer contributed several other important ideas to what in past centuries had been an emotional issue. He brought to it an intellectual foundation, a philosophical direction, and a strong moral focus. In so doing, he appealed to the sophisticated audience of the '70s, an audience that was largely indifferent to animal rights in a purely emotional context.

The importance of all this to us, as security professionals, is to understand that this intellectual foundation is what gives the current animal rights movement the unprecedented credibility it enjoys today. If it's true that the past is a mirror of the future, we need not go back far to find another movement that was built on an intellectual foundation.

I'm referring now to the unequalled success of the environmental movement. With the same kind of intellectual foundation, dedication, and articulation that we find in the animal rights movement, the environmentalists succeeded in making the protection of the environment a national crusade.

In April, the 20th anniversary of Earth Day was observed. In 1970, the first Earth Day mobilized 20 million Americans who were concerned about our environment. It was the beginning of a national movement that grew to number thousands of national, state, and local groups. The final result of Earth Day 1970 was just as spectacular as the event. The Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency all can be directly traced to Earth Day.

The big difference between the environmental movement and the animal rights movement is their agendas. We all applaud the spirit and purpose that unified the environmental movement. They made us all more aware of the limits of our natural resources, more sensitive to the living world around us, and more understanding of the need to change.

The agenda of the animal rights movement, however, is not the protection of the environment. What's at stake is equality of humans and animals--an idea that seems outlandish. But outlandish statements do not mean the animal rights movement will go away, that it will be disregarded by rational people. Above all, the hallmark of these people is tenacity. They will become more active and more determined to bring about what they see as the next great social change. Whether we like it or not, security against the violence associated with their determination will be a cost of doing business in the 1990s.

Everything I've said up to this point has been to explain what drives these people. They are intelligent, articulate, and politically astute. The movement can be roughly broken into three kinds of people--moderates, militants, and terrorists.

There isn't much to say about the first group, the moderates, because when you talk about animal rights, moderation seems to be in short supply. The second group, the militants, is the most visible. The most active organization is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which we know as PETA. The best-known of the third group, the terrorists, is the Animal Liberation Front, or ALF. PETA denies that ALF is a terrorist branch of PETA.

PETA advances its cause with two premises. The first one is a moral argument, that it, it is morally wrong to use animals for any purpose, even as pampered, household pets. PETA's second argument is that animal experimentation is worse than worthless -- it is dangerous to the health of humans.

Most scientists dispute the latter conclusion. The shortfall in PETA's claim that animal research is worthless is its focus on what has not been accomplished and its failure to mention what has been accomplished. PETA stresses the fact that despite all the research that has taken place, there still is no cure for cancer, arthritis, and several other maladies.

What the group does not say is that without animal research, most of the medical advances in this century probably would not have happened. For example, if there had been no animal research, those of us who have never seen an iron lung -- which is probably most of us -- would have our chance. Polio would kill or cripple thousands of people each year. Most of the nation's diabetics wouldn't be diabetic. They would be dead. The people who needed coronary bypass surgery in 1989 could not have lived to see 1990. The more than 7,000 people who receive new kidneys each year would die. And for those who live, there would be no such thing as dialysis. Pioneering work in chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants would never have happened. Medical miracles that we take for granted would never have been heard of. When was the last time you heard of someone dying of infection? Or knew someome confined to a tuberculosis sanitarium?

And if animal research stopped today, we could look forward to this: It would be too dangerous to test things like artificial blood. Methods to prevent many cancers would never be found, since genetic and environmental theories cannot be tested in humans. People with cystic fibrosis and multiple sclerosis would never benefit from the development of new treatments and drugs. The prognosis for the 3 million victims of Alzheimer's would remain grim. There would never be a vaccine against the AIDS virus.

PETA's argument that animal research is useless simply does not stand up to scrutiny. PETA's other argument -- the moral issue -- is touchy simply because opinions on moral issues are personal matters. As a nation, we believe everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. We are reluctant to tread on someone else's personal choices. Unfortunately, the animal rights movement may make the use of animals an important moral issue of our time, ranking with abortion.

I've already given you the gist of this moral argument, that is, the belief that animals and humans are equal. The co-director of PETA has been widely quoted as saying humans are ". . . the biggest blight on the face of the earth." She went on to say, "There is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They're all animals."

AND CONSIDER THIS: IF ANIMAL RE-search is stopped, as PETA INSISTS it SHOULD BE, there is no way to calculate the future lives that will be lost due to the lack of medical treatment that never had a chance to be developed.

A Humane Society official suggested that instead of using animals for surgical research, we should use brain-dead human beings. He acknowledged it may take people a while to get used to the idea -- a monumental understatement -- but, he said, once they accept the idea, the savings in animal lives would be substantial.

One other point of interest is PETA's double standard and the inconsistencies of the animal rights movement in general. An employee of PETA is quoted as saying she is a diabetic and she takes synthetically manufactured insulin that she knows contains some animal products. Although she recents that animals died to make this drug, she doesn't feel like a hypocrite for staying alive on a drug that depends on animal sacrifice. Her justification is that she needs to maintain her health to continue the fight for the rights of animals.

This same woman was quoted as saying that if she had to do it over again, she would not let her son be vaccinated for tetanus, diphtheria, or polio, since those vaccines were developed through animal testing.

These inconsistencies and the philosophy of animal equality make a stew of ideas with which the new terrorist justifies violence. And that leads me straight to the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).

The FBI has defined ALF as a domestic terrorist group. In the manual ALF distributes to would-be members, the group calls itself "a loosely knit organization of people who bypass traditional symbolic methods of protest to help alleviate the suffering of animals -- immediately -- through the use of direct action tactics."

The manual goes on to explain that the orgnization's long-term goals are to end the exploitation and persecution of animals by human beings. In the short term, ALF says ti hopes to save as many animals as possible. It then advises members to take direct action -- to rescue animals from premises where they are subjected to suffering and to destroy property, causing financial loss to so-called animal exploiters.

ALF's description of itself is a little soft. I believe ALF could be described more accurately if we consider some of the characteristics of terrorism. For example, groups will often select targest and victims that offer maximum proganda value.

In 1985, ALF attacked a research lab at the University of California at Riverside, causing more than half a million dollars' worth of damage and stealing more than 450 animals. Perhaps worst of all, it destroyed research data on a study on infant blindness.

Eighteen months later, ALF raided a lab at the University of Oregon, stealing animals and dstroying equipment. If followed up with a letter of university officials and the news media boasting about smashing a $10,000 microscope in 12 seconds.

In April 1987, ALF claimed credit for a fire that destroyed a new veterinary lab at the University of California at Davis, causing $3.5 million worth of damage. Ironically, its information was faulty so it destroyed a building used not in animal research but in treating sich and injured animals.

One year ago, ALF set fire to two labs at the University of Arizona. It also "liberated" more than a thousand animals infected with a bacteria that causes dehydration and death in third-world children. ALF calls these attacks direct action.

Two other characteristics of terrorists are the use of threats, harassment, and violence to create an atmosphere of fear and the use of violence as a method of persuasion. ALF and its counterparts have been involved in a significant series of crimes. Officials at veterinary schools, medical schools, and universities are worried because these crimes against property are turning into crimes against people.

Scientists and medical doctors and their families have received hate mail, death threats, bomb scares, obscene and threatening phone calls, and sustained property damage. Some have hired bodyguards. One now sleeps with a gun by his bed. All have augmented their personal security measures.

What are we to expect in the future? Historically, animal rights terrorism has followed patterns begun in Great Britain, spreading to Europe and finally to the United States.

In 1989, animal rights terrorists in Britain were targeting companies and institutions involved with the food or animal products industries as well as continuing to attack research laboratories. There McDonald's restaurants were firebombed. A suspected arson attack on a Danish passenger ferry killed two. The probable motive was the death of laboratory dogs during shipment in a sister ship. A break-in at a chicken farm released 5,000 chickens infected with salmonella. The animals were to be destroyed to prevent the spread of the disease. A department store was firebombed and destroyed. Damage to stores selling furs over the past two years in estimated at 10 million pounds.

In 1988, a car bomb was placed on a car belonging to a director of a construction company. It was found and defused. The construction company was working on a pharmaceutical research facility. A firebomb exploded under a van owned by teh head of a local fox-hunting club; another device was found on the family car and defused. A high-explosive bomb caused extensive damage to the Senate Building at Bristol University.

Animal rights extemeists threatened employees a fur shop with guns while they ignited smoke bombs in the shop. An arson attack on a poultry breeding center resulted in injuries to three firefighters. The future in Britain, and probably in the United States and Europe, is a further broadening of attacks against any company or institution involved in any way with the food or animal products industries.

Scotland Yard has identified ALF as an underground, international terrorist group with operatives in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and France. The Attorney General of California has named ALF one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the state.

PETA claims to abhor violence and have no association with ALF. However, PETA is usually the first to know about ALF's activities and actually issues press releases on ALF's behalf. Furthermore, PETA has paid fines and legal fees for people convicted of crimes committed in the name of ALF.

People in the animal rights movement are politically astute. In fact, they have worked the legal system long and hard and skillfully. This is entirely their right. Several states already have put curbs on animal research. Animal rights bills have been introduced repeatedly in Congress, including bills that would allow a human to file suit on behalf of an animal.

The use of the legal system isn't confined to the United States. Implementation of a 1987 animal protection law in Germany is now under way. There is continued pressure in that country to reduce the use of animals even further.

In Switzerland, voters defeated a bill that would have outlawed all animal research. They are now wrestling with a bill that would prohibit the use of animals in research but would allow research to continue under special exemptions.

And in the United States, humane societies that once were staid, conservative parts of the establishment are being swept up in the philosophies and activities of organizations like PETA. Even the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has become vocal on the subject.

All this activity would indicate a great deal of public support for the animal rights movement. And in fact these groups all claim to have the whole-hearted backing of the public. In reality, public support has diminished in direct proportion to the escalation of demands and activities by the animal rights movement. The vocal, domineering nature of the activists -- and the frightening, violent actions of the terrorists -- are taking their toll on public support for the movement. If the past teaches us anything about violent movements, it is that as they become more frustrated, they become more violent.

Mr. and Mrs. Average Citizen are indeed waking up to the magnitude of changes demanded by the aminal rights people. A letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal said, in part: "People who wish to take this position have a right to do so. However, as a matter of ethics, I believe they should eat no meat, poultry, or fish. They should wear no clothing, including shoes, made of leather or fur. They should decline all medical treatment discovered with the aid of animal research." The writer went on to compare the position of animal rights activists to people who believe the earth is flat.

The Washington Times editorialized that there ought to be a law: "Anyone against animal experiments may not purchase drugs developed using laboratory animals. The man or woman opposed to animal experiments may not seek a kidney transplant from a doctor who trained on a dog." It further said such a law would be the end of groups like PETA.

In a recent Gallup poll, 60 percent of those surveyed said they opposed animal testing of cosmetics. However, more than three fourths of the group was in favor of continued animal testing for medical products.

Univesities, government, industry, science, medicine, and the public are ready to fight back. Government, science, and industry are mobilizing to prosecute animal rights terrorists.

On November 20, 1989, the Senate passed a bill that makes in a federal offense to break into research facilities when the intent is to steal or damage records or equipment. It provides for a prison term of up to 10 years and a $10,000 fine. The House is expected to act on the bill this year. Measures to protect animal research facilities are being considered by the legislators of five states: Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, and Maryland.

Scientists who have long been silent on the issue are speaking out. They've studied the arguments of the activists, searched their own souls, and ajusted their methods to the degree possible. But they know there's only so far they can go--only so much accommodating they can do--before the medical, scientific, and industrial strength of the United States starts to erode over this issue.

The furriers are fighting back. Until now, they're beem made to feel ashamed and apologetic for their involvement in the fur industry. Several months ago, the owners of a fur company in Massachusetts filed a $10 million lawsuit against an activist group. They claim the group has characterized them as killers of animals and prevented customers from entering their store.

In trying to promote their radical agendas of intimidation and terrorism, animal rights people have preyed on our natural emotional attachment to our pets. No one argues with their position of humane treatment. But they are dead wrong to insist that all animal research is brutal and cruel and to insist there is no difference between a human being and a gerbil.

I wish I could say I believe the animal rights movement has had its day, but I can't. I think it has weakened its credibility in the eyes of the public. But I also think its activities will escalate.

In the United States, ALF has claimed responsibility for almost 30 lab breakins in the last six or sevey years. Nearly 90 labs have been vandalized in the past 10 years, and damage has amounted to $10 million. A hidden danger in this violence is that it makes the less violent activists look like reasonable people.

Due to this escalation in activities, it is crucial that we understand that violence may increase--and, as in Britain, it may not be confined to property. How we treat this threat is the first line of defense in asset protection.

Our immediate and imperative task is to protect the people and property whose security has been entrusted to us. How best can we guard against the destruction of property and valuable data and defuse the potential for human injury at the hands of animal rights terrorists?

Obviously, we must establish basic security, controlled access, intrusion alarms, package screening--all those measures that we can tailor to high security problems. And we mustn't be occupied entirely with protecting laboratories. Recently, ALF has burglarized offices to get at files and research data. If we have to established priorities, I would begin with the following:

* Scrutinize new employees.

* Inform employees of the value of animal research to humanity.

* Establish strong visitor control in target areas.

* Implement basic physical security procedures.

* Establish liaison with police and FBI and network with companies and universities to develop information in your locale.

* Marshal your company resources to be ready to proceed against the illegal acts of animal rights groups in both criminal and civil court.

New employees. Most of the breakins resulting in lost research data, destruction of computers and lab equipment, and theft of research animals have been accomplished through insiders who used their positions to identify vulnerabilities and then allowed access to the extemists--the terrorists. These insiders have either been undercover operatives specifically placed to penetrate the security of the installation or regular employees suborned by the exploitation of their sympathies for lab animals.

Verity resumes and check backgrounds to address the problem of undercover operatives. Experience has shown that usually these individuals have falsified substantial portions of their resumes. Be sure to include contract employees in these checks.

Employee education. Addressing the problem of the employee who cooperates with the extremists requires education. Employees and contract employees, particularly nonscientific personnel, should receive training sessions in which the value of animal research to human welfare is explained.

The humane approach of the company and its adherence to the standards of animal care should also be explained. My company has printed a brochure for employees that explains the organization's position. that brochure, together with commercially produced videos and a question-and-answer session, are particularly effective in informing employees.

Visitor control. ALF encourages careful reconnaissance before attack. Animal labs are not the places for company tours. Allowing outsiders into labs increases both the likelihood of contaminating the experiments and your vulnerabilities to extremist action. The access needed by vendors and service people should be carefully scrutinized and limited. All visitors should be escorted.

Review the basics of physical security. Evaluate the physical security of your installantions. Review the basics. Many of ALF's attacks could have been slowed by basic security measures, giving time for a security force to react. Basic defenses were not in place in many of these incidents.

Law enforcement and industry liaison. Contact your local police force and FBI office and maintain a dialogue on this issue. Assure them of your company's willingness to cooprate in the prosecution of any attacks against your people and facilities. Network with other companies in your area and with the university community to exchange information

Legal recourse. Raise the issue with your legal department. Be prepared to proceed in criminal court. Think it through before you have an incident. Be prepared to proceed civilly against animal right activists. In many cases, civil action will be more of a deterrent than criminal prosecution.

Frankie Trull, president of the Foundation for Biomedical Research, a group that advocates the responsible use of animals in research, stated that one of the major weaknesses in our society's attempt to counter the new terrorism of the animal rights groups is our inability to see ofthen the excesses of the animal often the excesses of the animal rights groups are viewed as mere breakins rather than a conspiracy that has endangered lives, cost millions of dollars, and resulted in tragic losses for medical science.

We should address this problem as security professionals both nationally and internationally. Commercial intelligence companies should be encouraged to collect information on the violent tactics of the animal rights groups, and American corporations, particularly the multinationals, should exchange information in the forums of the Overseas Security Advisory Council, the International Security Management Association, and ASIS.

Several months ago, Frederick Goodwin, a director in the Department of health and Human Services said, "We're not going with animals. We for working with animals. We assumed the public would eventually reject the extreme views of the animal activists. But the 10 years in which that attitude has prevailed has seen a steady growth in the animal rights movement."

In Goodwin's opinion, there is no middle ground, that is, whatever science or industry does won't be good enough. He notes that moderates aren't driving the debate, radicals are, and animal rights activists have distinguised their true intentions from the public. He says the best way to win the debate on the use of animals in research is to make sure the public rights activists what the animal rights activities want to achieve. He believes that once the real agenda of the animal rights movement is exposed, the movement will quickly lose its appeal.

Science, government, the universities, and industry have begun to draw the line. Animal rights groups have turned to violence--to terrorism. And as has happened in the past, it will fall to law enforcement and the security community to protect our institutions from violance. We can hope as security professionals that a reasonable debate can be conducted. However, the history of the last 10 years clearly shows that violence is an acceptable tool of the animal rights movement. We must be prepared; we have no choice.

Robert R. Burke is director of corporate service and security for Monsanto Comapany in St. Louis. Burke serves on the Overseas Security Advisory Council. He is a member of ASIS. This article is based on a speech Burke gave at the 8th Annual ASIS Government and Industry Conference on Terrorism in Washington, DC, earlier this year.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:includes article on the continuing need for antiterrorism efforts; the potential for being targeted by animal rights groups
Author:Burke, Robert R.; Hall, Gwendolyn F.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Sep 1, 1990
Previous Article:Do you trust your employees?
Next Article:Holding down the fort.

Related Articles
Violent avengers.
The terrorists among us.
Securing research facilities against activist attacks.
The great divide: 12 environmental and animal rights leaders talk about what separates them - and what can bring them together.
A pharmacopoeia of protection.
Confronting terrorism on the state and local level.
Science and Self-doubt.
Toward a New Foreign Policy.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters