In previous posts (here and here), I pointed out that by accepting treatment for his testicular cancer, SHAC's Mr. Josh Harper found a way to take advantage of an instutituion it is his goal to destroy: the biomedical research industry. The discoveries of this industry saved his life, and at least some of the profits realized from medicines sold to ensure the successful treatment of his testicular cancer will be used to further - as Mr. Harper would say - "animal abuse."
But wait ... aren't I making too much of this? After all, Mr. Harper's contribution to research that will inevitably exploit unconsenting, innocent, feeling animals, and deny them the "rights" he claims they have, would be tiny.
I'm not making too much of this ... it is a very important issue.
This a matter not of dollars, but of high principle - high principle preached by Mr. Harper himself. High principle that animates Mr. Harper, that gives his life meaning. High principle that Mr. Harper would have us all live by in the interests of moral purity, regardless of the costs to ourselves, much less to our children and other loved ones. High principle that leads Mr. Harper to excuse the tactics of intimidation and coercion in the interests of a greater good. High principle that leads him to favor anarchy over the rigid hierarchy of human institutions, like that of biomedical research.
Mr. Harper would have us believe that he is a man of High Principle.
But in matters of principle, dollars don't count: you either abide by the principle, or you do not.
George Berhard Shaw made the point far better than I (or anyone else!) ever could:
Some years ago, George Bernard Shaw and a middle-aged London socialite engaged in one of the most famous encounters in the battle of the sexes. Shaw asked the woman if she would sleep with him for a million pounds. She responded with an enthusiastic "yes!" Then Shaw playfully lowered the offer to one pound and sixpence. "Certainly not!" the woman huffed, "what do you think I am?" Shaw smiled and said, "We've already established that . . . now we're haggling about the price."
Mr. Harper may like to think of himself as a man of high principle, and he may well talk the talk. But his actions are at odds with the image he would project: when he accepted treatment for his cancer, knowing that some of the profits derived from every single one of the pharmaceuticals that cured him would be used to support the institution he demonizes, Mr. Harper quite literally sold his soul to the devil.
When faced with a choice - admittedly a hard one - Mr. Harper chose his life over his principle. Considering the importance of this particular principle in Mr. Harper's life, this is not simply a little "ooops-goof" - it is a major breach, a fundamental and willful betrayal of one of the beliefs he professes most fervently.
We know what kind of a person you are, Mr. Harper. Now we're just haggling about the price.
UPDATE: * Since writing this piece, I've found a variety of versions of the anecdote I attributed to George Bernard Shaw, and I've found it attributed to Winston Churchill and to "anonymous." I haven't a clue what the correct attribution really is, but it's one of my favorites.