If you read my last piece ("Feds Bust SHAC USA"), you might have noticed the name "Josh Harper." A lot has been written about this guy, most of it having to do with his anarchist views and his over-the-top activism. His self-stated goal, according to this 2001 article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is "The complete collapse of industrial civilization." The same article summarizes his career up to 2001 thusly:
FBI agents arrested him last fall. He spent three days in the federal detention center at SeaTac before being released on bail. It wasn't Harper's first stint behind bars. By his own estimate, he's been arrested at least a dozen times.
Harper has tossed a lighted flare and smoke canister at Native American whalers, charged through a police line outside a conference of bio-medical researchers, and participated in dozens of demonstrations against the fur industry, factory farms and meat-processing plants. [Emphasis added]
And, of course, PeTA contributed $5,000 to the "Josh Harper Support Committee" in the year 2000.
All well and good.
But then there's this little nugget, hanging unappreciated in the breeze:
For 36 days in 1998, while suffering from testicular cancer, Harper went on a hunger strike in a Santa Ana, Calif., jail. . . .
Testicular cancer? Really? According to FDA, at one time that was a pretty devastating disease.
Cancer of the testicles [ . . . ] is relatively rare. However, in men aged 15 to 34, it ranks as the most common cancer.
[ . . .]
Only 15 years ago, a diagnosis of testicular cancer was grim news. Ten times as many patients died then as now. But dramatic advances in therapeutic drugs in the last two decades, along with improved diagnostics and better tests to gauge the extent of the disease, have boosted survival rates remarkably. Now, testicular cancer often is completely curable, especially if found and treated early.
[ . . . ]
There's a lot of good information easily available on testicular cancer (like this site of the National Cancer Institute) which shows how sophisticated the diagnosis and treatment of it are. But the complexities of all this may be beside the point, other than indicate the breadth of diagnostic procedures and treatments that have been made available by those same biomedical researchers whose meeting he wished to disrupt.
It is relevant, though, that Mr. Harper was a beneficiary of the same system he would destroy - not a passive beneficiary, mind you, but an active one: Mr. Harper had every right to refuse treatment for his unfortunate condition, but he chose not to. Whatever his treatment - whether it was surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy - it was founded on basic research, conducted by biomedical researchers that used animals - violating the "rights" he would claim they have.
The diagnosis of his condition and its subsequent treatment were also parts of the despised industrialist/capitalist system he is committed to destroying, and some of the profits from the drugs he was administered - even if only anaesthesia, IV saline and antibiotics - will be used to support still more animal experiments by institutions and researchers it is also his life's goal to destroy.
So Mr. Harper was apparently more than willing to momentarily put aside his lofty principles and accept for himself what he is committed to denying others: access to the full armamentarium of diagnostic tools and treatments necessary to deal with potentially devastating health problems.
If convicted and sentenced to jail on the charges contained in his most recent indictment (available as a PDF document here), perhaps he might find the time to reflect on his decisions and find a way to reconcile them.