So - it seems like Josh Harper, who celebrates his life now because he chose not to celebrate his principles when offered treatment for his testicular cancer (link, link, link) - now has a soul mate (payment required). Here's the report, with my comments:
A PROMINENT animal rights campaigner, who spends her free time shouting abuse at people linked to laboratory testing and who has pledged to die for the cause, is being treated with a life-saving cancer drug that was tested on mice, rats, dogs and guinea pigs.
Janet Tomlinson, 61, has been active in animal rights causes for more than 20 years and is a regular protester outside Newchurch guinea pig farm, near Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, which supplies animals for use in medical research.
Yet when she was told in March that she was suffering from breast cancer, Miss Tomlinson wanted to live and accepted the treatment on offer. She said: "I can do more good for animals staying alive than dying."
This is indeed a thin but convenient alter on which to sacrifice one's most sacred principles, even after having offered one's life in defense of said principles.
Miss Tomlinson has no way to measure the impact of the "good" she, personally, accomplishes for animals. And the "good" she might accomplish for the AR cause must be balanced off against the bad - especially the bad publicity focussing on her self-serving hypocrisy (she is saying, in effect: "I'll accept treatment - my life is more important than the life of your unborn child, who I would deny the benefits of future medical advances") and the harm she does to other animals by feeding profits (from her medications) into the hated pharmaceutical system that will use a portion of them to experiment on still more animals.
And then, there is much to be said for martyrdom. She could undoubtedly rise above her peers - certainly Josh Harper - by eschewing her slice of the devil's pie and meeting her maker. Can you imagine the immense public relations value PeTA would enjoy from proclaiming her nobility for committing herself totally to the AR ideal, even as she pays the ultimate price?
Her breast tumour was removed by mastectomy in March and she is now in the middle of chemotherapy treatment.
Miss Tomlinson, a vegetarian who protested against the former Hilgrove cattery and now supports Stop Huntingdon Life Sciences, says that she knows people will call her a hypocrite, but insisted: "I had no choice and that is what is so disgusting.
No choice? Balderdash! She has a choice to martyr herself, a choice she appears to have forsaken. She could have chosen to do to herself what she is working to have happen to others.
I suspect that the disgust she feels is precisely because she has a choice, but has opted to save her own skin rather than the skins of lab animals. It's tough when one comes face to face with one's fallibility, especially when it demonstrates how shallow and easily mutable are one's long-cherished, core beliefs.
"If I'm saved, it will be in spite of the drugs being tested on animals. All my friends are telling me I'm the guinea pig because whether you recover or not, it is a fluke of nature, a lottery.
Okay! I'll bite and ask the obvious question. Since Miss Tomlinson and friends know more than the physicians who are treating her and the scientists who devised those treatments (she knows being saved would be "in spite of all the drugs tested on animals"), what is preventing her from abandoning those people, their knowledge and their regimen, and substituting her own therapeutic expertise in their place?
Many, if not most, pharmaceutical agents never enter into use since they don't pass animal tests -- they were lethal, had unacceptable side effects, were insufficiently effective, or "2 or more of the above." Those that fail the animal tests are withheld from clinical trials on humans.
If Miss Tomlinson really believes that her knowledge is of equal value to expert scientific knowledge, or that her chance of recovery is "a fluke of nature, a lottery" (i.e. beyond human control), let's see her put that theory to the test, using herself as the experimental subject.
She could start with a list of abandoned drugs, her ideology and the will to experiment on herself! After all, if the success of her treatment really is a matter of chance, her guess is as good as anyone's, and she should administer the rejected drugs instead of those which passed muster. I'm sure she could persuade Dr. Jerry Vlasak, MD, to work out a protocol to her satisfaction.
"Just because the drugs are tested on animals it does not mean that we are going to survive.
True - but who would argue otherwise? (This is a strawman fallacy - Miss Tomlinson is refuting an argument of her own creation, not one made by her opponents.)
I am only taking the course of action I am because there is no alternative.
There is an alternative - actually, a couple. There is martyrdom, and there is experimentation on one's self (which could easily lead to martyrdom ...).
I really don't see how putting an electrode in a monkey's head or stripping fur on a guinea pig and sticking toxic liquid on it has helped me or is going to help me. It's disgusting that I don't have a choice."
And here, Miss Tomlinson has introduced monkeys, electrodes, fur stripping and toxic liquids to no effect other than to distract.
Whatever might be done to monkey heads or the skin of guinea pigs with electrodes or toxic substances is irrelevant to the fact that she has accepted treatment to save her own ideologically-challenged skin, and in doing so contributed to the very industry it is her sworn mission to close down.
Miss Tomlinson has strayed off point, but that doesn't separate her from the facts and logic of her predicament: by accepting treatment, she is furthering the "abuse" of laboratory animals, which it is her life's work to prevent: some of the profits realized by the pharmaceutical companies supplying her with drugs will be used for future animal tests. She may live a little longer, but regardless, animals will suffer and die because of her patronage.
Wouldn't it be tragically ironic if she accepted treatment, contributed to future animal studies, and her life were not prolonged? Then, the net result of her decision would be additional animal suffering without even a benefit for herself.
And - as I've pointed out twice already - Miss Tomlinson has very much of a choice. In fact, one could say she has the opportunity to make the ultimate choice: the choice between increasing her chances for prolonging her life, and the virtual certainty of cutting it short. What more meaningful choice could she wish?
Of course, she is also faced with a choice between living by her ideology (or more accurately, dying sooner by it), or abandoning the ideology that gives her life purpose in the hope that she will prolong her time in the material world.
Parenthetically, she having asserted "no choice" fully 3 times, I might be forgiven for asking who she's trying to convince: her audience or herself.
Speaking from her one-bedroom council flat in Burton-on-Trent, where as a girl she went out with a tin to collect cash for animal charities, Miss Tomlinson said that people were dying needlessly because drug tests were being carried out on animals and not on people.
Miss Tomlinson has created a false bifurcation: drugs are tested on animals and humans. Miss Tomlinson's suggestion that drugs are tested on animals instead of humans is preposterously wrong.
Miss Tomlinson would profit greatly were she to read my response to Peter Tatchell, in which I outline the formal process by which drugs are brought to market.
She said: "If this testing on animals is as beneficial as the doctors say, then it would stop cancer. But it hasn't -and that has to be criminal.
How silly is this? First there is the ignorance - there isn't (a) "cancer," there are (many) "cancers." Second, it is her misfortune that she was born a woman, not a man like Josh Harper - whose testicular cancer was, in fact, "stopped." Third, she is using the "perfect" of a fantasy world to bash the "very good" of the real world. Modern medicine's ability to deal with many cancers is "very good" - which however short of "perfect" that might be is one heck of a lot better than it was a mere decade ago.
Indeed, Miss Tomlinson should thank her lucky stars that she wasn't afflicted with breast cancer 30 years ago ...
It helps some, and chemo might help me and kill the infected cells, but it might not. I should not have to live with that fear when scientists have had so much money and tested enough animals and yet they can't tell me the treatment will work."
If Miss Tomlinson requires perfection, she needs to turn to the provence of the supernatural. She won't find perfection in this world, and to judge what is possible by an impossible standard is irrational.
Miss Tomlinson accused Tony Blair and the Government of being "obsessed with animal testing" and said: "I want the Government to justify all this cruelty."
Whatever realistic hope Miss Tomlinson has is the justification she seeks. However bleak she might find her future prospects, they are much better than they would have been even 10 years ago.
Really, if she is that sure that the treatments she is undergoing do not appreciably increase the chances of her life being prolonged, and that animal tests are therefore unjustifiable, let her devise her own therapy - perhaps with the help of Dr. Jerry Vlasak and the good people at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine - and treat herself. She'd get an ideologically-acceptable treatment, if not one that actually works, and she'd not contribute profits to fund future animal studies.
Even though the chemotherapy drains her and she feels sick, she says that she has to make the effort to stand outside Darley Oaks Farm in Newchurch. She has lost her hair and covers her head with a cloche-type hat. Wearing combat jeans and boots, she is ready to shout abuse at anyone linked to the guinea-pig breeders.
"It bucks me up. Protesters are compassionate people and they boost your spirits," she says. "You have to have a waterproof because it can be bleak out there."
I'll bet things are pretty bleak for the guys she's shouting abuse at, too. Not to mention the many totally innocent people who AR thugs are terrorizing.
Finally, lest anyone think otherwise, it is my very fondest and most sincere hope that Miss Tomlinson enjoy a rapid and complete recovery.