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My father the vivisectionist: How he shielded himself from others' suffering
 by Nix <
Nichen@aol.com>

Once, when I was a child, I asked my father why he hated dogs so very much (dirty & dumb). He explained to me that when he was doing graduate work in psychology, he was running an experiment that involved conditioned response using electrical jolts. (This sounded awfully familiar to me. Once again, the "scientist" is studying what has already been proven. Actually, I believe the purpose of this test was to refine the research protocol.) I was visibly disgusted by this admission, and he gave me the long sigh and said that they didn't HURT the dogs. "How do you think we knew the machine was working?" he asked me. "We tested it by putting our own hands into it to see that the jolt was there". Of course, they did not strap themselves immobile into the machines. Nor did those jolts appear to come out of the blue for no reason. When he said the animals did not feel pain (only some discomfort) he was assuming that they felt the electricity the same way he did (probably not) and TOTALLY discounted the terror, confusion and panic of the poor creatures.

The dogs are dumb, he contended, because when he went to get them out of their cages, they whined and cringed and snarled and tried everything that they could to stay right where they were (this must have made him think that the dogs thought cages were an ideal life!), and they hated the sight of him. But, after their current portion of torture was through, the dogs were thrilled to see him. As soon as they were released from their bondage, they tried to jump up and lick his face, with tail-wagging and grinning and all kinds of happy, eager-to-please gestures. He said the dogs were obviously stupid. How could they not realise that he was the same person they had hated before? Many years after this, he would not consider the possibility that this was in fact a rather sophisticated intelligence, that they could separate him from the circumstances, and respond to his presence appropriately in each of vastly differing curcumstances. No, they were just dumb.

They are dirty, filthy beasts, he also learned during his lab work, because they stink and live in and eat their own filth, etc. He did not seem to realize that they really had no choice, as the only time they were allowed out of the cage was to be strapped to the machine! Somehow, I guess, they were supposed to know what time the high-powered hose came by and control bowel and bladder functions until this one time every day or two.

I would like to point out that my father is of higher-than average intelligence. He has no vested interested in supporting the research labs, as he is now an attorney, and can realize no immediate personal gain. He managed to raise five children who each are capable of great empathy, and has always encouraged this trait. The lengths that he has gone to, for years and years, to deny any suffering (other than some discomfort) on the part of these dogs, and to convince himself that their living conditions were their own fault is an amazing case in point. This is exactly the sort of "blame the victim" mentality that he, as an attorney, flies into literal rages about. This is beyond "shielding". This is downright denial, and more common than I care to think about.

This is a very long story, but it explains where I get my ideas of how people can deny the suffering of non-human animals.

-- Nix

 

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