Appreciate animal-rights restraint
Christopher Murphy
September 1, 2005

University of Iowa researcher Mark S. Blumberg's Sunday Insight piece describing vandalism and harassment by the Animal Liberation Front, whose members he suggests should be labeled as "terrorists," was so whiny and weak I was embarrassed for him, his family and the university. Intruders rescued rats and mice on which Blumberg and others were experimenting. They spilled chemicals and damaged equipment. They videotaped their visit and sent a copy to the university. They also called Blumberg and his colleagues mean names, sent him mean e-mails and signed him up for a lot of magazine subscriptions.

There was disruption, expense and loss of data. No one died. No one was injured. No one so much as suffered a paper cut, yet Blumberg describes the incident in terms so hyperbolic, I am concerned for his sanity. My favorite example, one that should get him fired from the university and laughed into hiding, was that he found the vandalism and insulting e-mails more harrowing than having his house broken into in the early 1980s by armed robbers who tied him up and stuck snub-nosed revolvers in his face. I mean, really, I can't think of a victim of a violent home invasion who wouldn't have preferred having his office wrecked while he was on vacation.

Blumberg goes on, with weepy righteousness, about how difficult it was for him to learn that after freeing them from their cages, the animal-rights intruders mixed baby mice with adult mice that weren't their mothers, all but ensuring they would be eaten. How much nicer it would have been for them to be killed by Blumberg via poison or freezing or other methods as painful. Readers aren't sure because nowhere in the piece does its author mention what really happens to them. Further, it's convenient that only rats and mice were saved from that University of Iowa lab. That way, Blumberg also can avoid mentioning the armies of cats, dogs, monkeys and chimpanzees he and others in the research industry torture and kill annually.

How stupid he must think his readers are.

Blumberg claims the folks who trashed his laboratory have a distrust of and disdain for science. I don't think that's true. I think they like science but have a distrust of and disdain for people who torture and kill animals in its name. Science can be furthered without animal experimentation. Regrettably, those who make money breeding mice, monkeys and beagles, the dog of choice for animal experimentation, are able to spend it in amounts sufficient to convince most people it can't.

No group in United States history has won rights without inflicting, and suffering, violence. The Revolutionary War, abolition, women's suffrage, labor rights, civil rights, rights of the unborn -- all these movements have been, and continue to be, stained with violence. Blumberg and his crybaby colleagues got off with broken computers, graffiti and subscriptions to Time and TV Guide. Instead of likening animal-rights activists to actual terrorists, they should be thanking them for their restraint.

Christopher Murphy lives in Orlando.