I received an email from someone claiming to be Josh Harper, who wished to comment on Saturday's post ("SHAC's Josh Harper and Testicular Cancer"). In that post, I called SHAC's Mr. Harper to task as follows:
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.
The note's author - who I take on faith really is Josh Harper - has kindly given me permission to reproduce it, which I do in its entirety.
I just saw your post on my battle with cancer and wanted to clarify something. The neighborhood I grew up in had a cancer cluster of 8 young men, all of whom were diagnosed within 1 year of each other. That is an astounding number of people in one small area, and the cause of our cancer was almost certainly environmental. I lived downstream from a plastics injection facility that released environmental estrogens into the air and water.
I was not vegan when I was diagnosed, and only became interested in animal liberation shortly before I went into remission. During that time period I had to think of my own mortality constantly, and I became closely acquainted with suffering. It occured to me then that I wanted to minimize the amount of suffering I caused in the world. [Emphasis added - ed.]
Refusing treatment would not have brought back any animals, and it may have killed me. I did what I could with the means available to me, and now I fight to make the world a place where no one gets environmentally inflicted cancers, and where the responsibility for curing those cancers is not laid upon the shoulders of unconsenting, innocent, feeling animals like those you used to kill. I participated in clinical research throughout my ordeal and strongly believe that if humans want cures for diseases we must be willing to paricipate in the search for those cures without using unwilling subjects.
There are a ton of things that I could say about the first two of the letter's paragraphs, but I'll spare you.
The only relevant thing is that those first two paragraphs are irrelevant to the point I made: Mr. Harper voluntarily took advantage of a system based on "animal abuse" to save his own life, but he would deny access to that system to needy others. He and his SHAC cohorts wish to coerce others to endure the horrible consequences and burdens he himself is unwilling to accept.
In the third paragraph, Mr. Harper tries in vain to justify abandoning principle and willfully accepting treatment by arguing that refusing such treatment wouldn't have brought back any animals.
True, but this is either willfully blind or cynically disingenuous - some percentage of virtually every dollar that was paid for Mr. Harper's cure (whether by him, the state or by his detested capitalistic insurance company) was returned to the morally corrupt biomedical research community, to further the interests of the "animal abuse" industry. Including the funding of additional animal studies.
Wouldn't it be deliciously ironic if in the future Mr. Harper were again saved from death, this time by a novel treatment that he himself helped fund?
Would he again salve his conscience by claiming that for him to refuse treatment wouldn't bring back any animals? Of course, that would be cold comfort any of the animals whose deaths he helped fund ... animals which are, in his words, "unconsenting, innocent, (and) feeling."
The fact is, Mr. Harper had a choice between standing tall on his principles and dying, or turning a blind eye toward his principles and living: in a very real sense, he was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Mr. Harper concluded a Faustian bargain: he chose the devil over the deep blue sea, an expedient if not a principled choice, one giving whole new meaning to the phrase "leading by example."
Did Mr. Harper make the right decision? It depends on your point of view, though I can't help but observe that if his goal really is to minimize the suffering he himself inflicts on the world, martyring himself to the AR cause would be one way to achieve it.
I suspect that a number of people at Chiron and Huntingdon Life Sciences - people whose lives have been made a living hell by SHAC - might agree.