(NOTE: I'll be out of town and unable to blog for the next week or so. I'll resume writing at the earliest opportunity.)
I've written before about the tactics AR people use to get their way. One of the more effective tactics is something called "moving the middle." I first heard about this tactic years ago when I attended a symposium for researchers, medical students and physicians on the topic of Animal Rights. The speakers included someone from the AMA - a physiologist by training - whose name now escapes me. He made what I thought was a very telling point.
He asked us to think of what scientists do with animals, and then how the AR people defined their own extreme position in opposition. He imagined for us a continuum, with the AR people at one end, and the researchers at the other: the AR people wanted to abolish the use of animals in research altogether, the researchers didn't want that to happen. What about compromise? he asked.
Compromise sounds reasonable, right? Two sides disagree, so they negotiate until they reach a position somewhere in the middle.
That's fair - it's the 'merican way, after all. Right?
Well, no. Compromise is not always right.
The researchers' side is already a position of compromise, a reasonable middle ground. For the researchers' position to be a polar opposite to that of the AR people, it would have to embrace the proposition that researchers should have absolute, total free license to do anything they wished to any number of animals they wanted for any reason - or no reason - at all. Think about that ...
What the AR people do is to set up a situation in which they seek to balance their extreme position off against - not another extreme position - but a position that is already a compromise of what's best for a scientist's freedom, what's best for animals and what's necessary for biomedical research to progress in its quest for better diagnostic and therapeutic tools.
Here's how Patti and Rod Strand brilliantly put it in their book: The Hijacking of the Humane Movement:
Another radical flank effect tactic frequently used is that of animal rights advocates offering their own extreme view as opposition to the consensus position of the mainstream, while characterizing the mainstream as an opposite extreme. This establishes a playing field that assumes that two extremes are opposing one another, when in fact, the mainstream is already a midpoint consensus of public or professional opinion. The effect of being able to characterize the center as the other end of the teeter totter moves the entire issue into the extremists' territory. Hence, any movement that takes place is from the real mainstream center towards the extremist position. The mainstream, under these circumstances, has only the options of standing pat or allowing concessions. There is no opportunity to move further away from radical demands. [Emphasis added - Ed]
The continuum grows more populous as differences of opinion create splinter groups to provide a voice for specific concerns and to obliterate and replace the mainstream. In this manner, animal rights groups are following principles tested earlier (by) English animal rights and environmental movements as they spawn more and more spin off-groups, thereby legitimizing the influence that causes radical flank effect. Former Sierra Club executive David Brower describes this technique: "I founded Friends of the Earth to make the Sierra Club look reasonable. Then I founded Earth Island Institute to make Friends of the Earth look more reasonable. Earth First! now makes us look reasonable. We're still waiting for someone to come along and make Earth First! look reasonable." (pages 59 - 60)
Now do you see why the violent organizations like SHAC, ALF and Speac are God's gift to PeTA?