At UConn, animal rights activist Justin Goodman protests the use of
monkeys in experiments.
Hard not to agree, really.
This is a true story. During my farming period, we sold six calves to
a farm about 10 miles away. One afternoon I was working in front of
the barn, when I looked up to see the calves come ambling up the
driveway. They'd escaped, and were coming home.
Nothing remarkable about that, you might think. But consider this:
these calves didn't have a map or anything. Whatever intelligence they
possessed, in whatever form, was sufficient for them to find their way
back over 10 miles of country road. Second, whatever kind of ĘsoulĘ
you are prepared to attribute to animals, clearly these calves were,
for lack of a better way of putting it, homesick. They suffered. They
missed something, and they took intelligent steps to restore their
Over the last couple of weeks, Justin Goodman has been protesting the
use of rhesus macaque monkeys in a neuroscience experiment at UConn,
chaining himself to a fence. According to a report last week, two of
the monkeys have died. It is my understanding that the monkeys are
being used to study brain activity -- a hole is drilled in their heads
and electrodes are attached to their brains. The study is supposed to
be helpful in understanding brain issues in humans. I'm going to
assume that the researchers treat the monkeys as well as possible
(though cruelty, taunting and deliberate torture of research animals
in universities has been documented. Think of Abu Ghraib. When people
get an opportunity to use power sadistically, some of them can't
resist). Still, I'm sure we can all agree that these monkeys aren't
having a good time, that they are likely to be frightened and
distressed. They're suffering.
According the the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection
(BUAV), about 100 million animals are used in experiments around the
world every year.
But somehow too, we know every time we have a real encounter with an
animal that it possesses a dignity of being that equals our own to
some extent, and that needs to be respected. I think it's great that
Mr. Goodman has reminded us of this. Oh, and incidentally, if you
believe the Buddhists, any failure on our part to extend compassion to
all sentient beings will come back to bite us down the road.