So! Sunday's Observer (10/31/04) has a letter to the editor from Jerry Vlasak, Medical Doctor, Animal Rights Holy Warrior (MD, ARHW). Visit the link, scroll down, and you'll find this gem:
Fight for animals
In 'Kill scientists, says animal rights chief' (News, 25 July), The Observer mischaracterised my comments. In an interview, I had stated that in the light of the horrific violence used daily against animals by vivisectors, some sort of violent resistance in their defence would be 'morally justified'.
As reported, I did state at a conference (during a discussion regarding pro-life activists in the US) that from a tactical standpoint, 'the assassination of animal experimenters would save millions of animals' lives'; and as evidence shows in the US, young obstetricians are not going into careers doing abortions largely because of threats and assassinations committed by anti-abortion activists.
I believe that to be significantly different, though, from urging or encouraging activists to kill vivisectors.
Since The Observer article was published, my wife and I have been banned from travelling to the UK. What ludicrous hypocrisy allows a surgeon such as myself, who devotes his life to saving human lives, as well as speaking out against the suffering and death of animals, to be banned from a country such as the UK? Meanwhile, Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), is banned from the US for advocating a 'Peace Train'.
Jerry W Vlasak MD
Santa Monica, California
This is a classic example of words that may be completely true, but are not the complete truth.
Let me explain.
If this were all there were to the story, Dr. Vlasak would have a defensible position: he could (as he does) argue that he suggested only that assassinating scientists would be morally justified, but that he did not go the extra step and openly advocate the act of murder itself. And we have a recording that suggests he did (at a minimum) what he claims, viz., justify the morality of assassinating scientists without overtly advocating that murder be done (though one plausible interpretation of his words would be that he does advocate murder — if murder is morally acceptable, and allegance to moral acceptability trumps allegance to the laws of man, what is the argument against assassination, if the cause is morally acceptable?).
And it is true that at the time the Observer characterized his position, the good Dr. chose his words carefully enough to have cloaked himself in plausible deniability.
He was highly suggestive, but his use of the passive voice was also a tad ambiguous. While it is reasonable to conclude that he did advocate assassination, it is also reasonable to conclude that he was speaking hypothetically ("one could ..."). Ambiguity rules!
Fortunately, that is no longer the case! Dr. Vlasak has made his position crystal clear on the Australian television program Insight (October 12, 2004). There is no longer any passive-voice ambiguity:
JENNY BROCKIE: So would you take a human life to save an animal life, is this what you are saying?
JERRY VLASAK: I am not saying that's never going to happen.
JENNY BROCKIE: That's pretty close to what you said in the quote.
JERRY VLASAK: Would I advocate taking five guilty vivisector's lives to save hundreds of millions of innocent animal lives? Yes, I would.
JENNY BROCKIE: Pretty scary prospect Professor Graham Jenkin in London. What do you think when you hear that? You're a scientist, you experiment on animals, what's your response to this?
PROFESSOR GRAHAM JENKIN, MONASH UNIVERSITY: Yes, I'm somewhat intimidated by Jerry's attitude.
Now, you shouldn't take my word for this — you should yourself watch the good Dr. speak those very words. You can find a link to the program's video and a link to its transcript here.
If you do this, you will find that I've accurately quoted the program.
This means that, Dr. Vlasak's present spin not withstanding, the Observer's interpretation of Dr. Vlasak's remarks was correct.
Methinks Dr. Vlasak may have a major credibility problem. He's been caught in what people less charitable than I might characterize as a lie.
It is, of course, possible that Dr. Vlasak, MD, ARHW, just forgot what he said during his interview on Insight.
Or, that his letter to the Observer was written prior to his appearance on Insight. But regardless of whether he is a lier, forgetful or "evolved," it would behoove him to correct the false impression he left with the Observer and its readership.
Dr. Vlasak, MD, ARHW, should take great pride in the fact that he has the courage to openly advocate assassination, if that is the case (as it seems to be). Surely, he doesn't want to leave the false impression that he opposes or is neutral to assassination, when he in fact openly advocates it!
After all, leaving false impressions results in one losing one's credibility — and credibility is a non-renewable resource. We really don't want the Dr. to lose his credibility, now, do we?
Dr. Vlasak, a word or two to the wise? First, it would be best if you write another letter to the Observer, this one clarifying your ... ah ... position(s).
And, not to put too fine a point on it, but when you find yourself in a hole, it might be wise to stop digging . . . or so it might be argued.
A thousand thanks to David S for the tip.
UPDATE: Reader Vicci A. writes, with tongue firmly in cheek:
The fund to purchase an nuclear-powered auger which will spin Vlasak deeper and faster into the hole he is digging continues to gain contributors by the minute!!!
It is our hope that he will spin so much dirt on top of his head as he digs deeper and deeper, faster and faster, that he will bury himself in his spinning lies.
/s/ Fund coordinator
Given how things are going for the good Dr., such an auger might actually slow him down!