AN AMERICAN doctor and animal rights activist who openly supports illegal extremist action against a controversial guinea pig farm has been banned from coming to Burton to take part in a massive demonstration.
Dr Steven Best, a philosophy professor who believes that violence is morally right if the cause is 'just', has been informed by the Home Office that he will not be allowed to enter the country to speak in Burton to campaigners against Darley Oaks Farm, in Newchurch, which breeds guinea pigs for medical research.
The reporter or his editor is clearly not impressed by Professor Best's assertion that violence is morally right if the cause is 'just' — hence the quotes around the word "just."
It's certainly true enough that violence can be used justly, but Professor Best leaves unaddressed why anyone should consider the AR cause to be "just," one for which violence is morally right. It is not self evident that the AR cause is at all "just", much less that violence in its furtherance is morally right.
For those new to AC, the premise that Professor Best is operating on is that the life of a human and that of an animal are of equal worth. If you accept that, then his case makes sense, at least on a theoretical level: it is morally justifiable to undertake any number of violent actions to save the lives of animals, just as it would be morally justifiable to use violence to save the lives of humans.
But if you buy this premise, you will also agree that the life of any one of your loved ones or friends is of equal value to the life of a sewer rat; you will see nothing amiss with Professor Best saving his dog from a burning building before he'd save a human stranger (his "Me First!" ethic), because his dog is more important TO HIM than the human stranger is TO HIM. After all, both lives are of equal value — tough peanuts if the stranger happens to be someone you care about. And you would agree with Dr. Jerry Vlasak, who feels it's morally acceptable to kill a few scientists for the purpose of intimidating others into abandoning animal-based research, and you will applaud him for openly advocating the practice of assassination. (Dr. Vlasak, also an ALF "Press Officer" and also banned from entering the UK some time ago — and I'd wager Dr. Best as well — have reduced morality to simple arithmetic: if you can save N+1 animals by killing N humans, it's worth doing. After all, the life of an animal and that of a human are of equal value.)
The decision has been made following the Government’s announcement that it will tighten measures to prevent foreign extremists who support criminal and violent acts from entering Britain. Although Dr Best claims not to be a terrorist, he openly supports the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), a group which is listed as a terrorist organisation in the United States and has previously said that its members could be behind the theft of the remains of Gladys Hammond — a relative of the Hall family which owns the farm — from her grave in Yoxall.
In a recent rally for campaigners in Kent, held prior to Dr Best being banned from entering the country, he reportedly told the crowd: "We are not terrorists, but we are a threat. We are a threat both economically and philosophically.
Professor Best is partially right — the AR fanatics are an economic threat. But their "philosophy" is only a threat as long as people don't understand what it is: a "philosophy" whose cornerstone is the belief that "speciesism" (discrimination on the basis species) is as immoral and as unethical as is descrimination on the basis of race (racism).
Well, okay . . . now we look for consistency, or at least defensible inconsistency. And what we find in the AR community is AR group after AR group acting in ways that should make us wonder. For example, PeTA, the flagship AR group, kills animals it takes into its "shelter" when, according to PeTA president Ingrid Newkirk, it could become a no-kill shelter in a heartbeat (PeTA, with an annual budget between $25 — $29 million, kills roughly 80% of the animals it accepts, a far higher percentage than far poorer shelters in its vicinity, and has killed roughly 12,500 animals in the past 5.5 years). PeTA also harangues the world with constant calls for dogs and cats to be spayed and neutered.
The ease with which the AR community kills dogs and cats, or apologizes for it, and their enthusiasm for spaying and neutering, raises an obvious question: are the AR people who kill and sterilize violating their core principle of "anti-speciesism" and treating animals differently than they would humans, or would they advocate implementing the "PeTA Plan" for humans, and kill and sterilize people for the same reasons, and with the same ease and flourish, as they do animals?
Professor Best's assurance that the AR "philosophy" is somehow a threat seems particularly hollow in the absence of an answer to this simple dilemma, and we can only wonder at his silence. Indeed, I'm unaware of any AR luminary who has acknowledged that this issue even exists, much less addressed it.
Of course, if Professor Best and Dr. Jerry Vlasak believe that killing animals in shelters is as wrong as killing humans (except when murder might be undertaken to intimidate scientists into abandoning animal research), you have to wonder why they don't raise as great a hue and cry about PeTA as they do about others who deprive animals of their "rights."
By their inactivity and their silence, Professor Best and Dr. Vlasak are enabling PeTA to continue their killing, sterilizing ways.
Where, pray, is the threat from a "philosophy" when even its staunchest proponents won't make even a pretense of abiding by its core principle, granting immunity from criticism selectively to some, but not to others?
What Professor Best champions is neither a philosophy nor an ideology: it is an attitude, to be selectively applied according to whim.
"Our power is not in the right to vote, but the power to stop production. We will break the law and destroy property until we win." Dr Best, a lecturer at the University of Texas in El Paso, has written to the Government in a bid to overturn the ban.
His letter says: "We and other concerned animal advocates are not the cause of social disorder in England, we are only effects of it, as we are compassionate, non–violent people who are responding to the torture and suffering of innocent animals."
Translation: Professor Best and his ilk are the inevitable products of the evil, exploitive and oppressive power structure of the ruling classes. Winning at the ballot box by persuading voters to their cause isn't going to happen, so they have anointed themselves with the moral authority by which they call the troops to violence.
But it all makes sense — if you begin with the idea that every life is of equal value, human and animal alike. Then, you are justified in taking fewer lives to save many more.
Except in the case of scientists, who take fewer animal lives to save many more human and animal lives . . . go figure.
Oh — and the bit about destroying property, being compassionate and non-violent is a cute touch. Violence is defined downward, such that vandalism and arson don't count.
And if nobody's yet been killed by the AR fanatics, it certainly isn't Dr. Vlasak's fault! He's justified the morality of assassination and believes it necessary (op cit) for the AR cause to prevail, and he's openly advocated its practice (op cit).
Hundreds of animal rights campaigners are expected to descend on the town centre on Saturday, September 3, with them vowing to 'bring the roof off Burton'.
However, Staffordshire police have reassured the public that their officers will be out in force to ensure the protest, the first mass demonstration against the farm since October’s grave desecration, remains peaceful.
A campaign against the farm, which breeds guinea pigs for scientific research, has been running for six years.
And quite a campaign it's been. Not content to harass, threaten and intimidate the owners of the farm, and desecrate a grave (op cits), they've made every person in Staffordshire a target (link, link). It is precisely in support of this campaign that Professor Best wishes to insert himself.
If you believe that the life of a human and a guinea pig are of equal moral value, Professor Best and his merry band of AR fanatics are fighting the good fight, and everything they've done has been "morally acceptable" (in Dr. Vlasak's words), including terrorizing an entire village. In fact, if you buy the human/guinea pig moral equivalence, then the extremists have done way too little: Dr. Vlasak would be right when he finds killing people to "morally acceptable" to advance the AR cause; and Professor Best would be making a perfectly moral decision were he chooses to rescue his dog from a burning building before saving your child, your parent, your sib, your spouse or your friend, because his dog is more important TO HIM than the person you care about is TO HIM . . . they can fry, for all he cares.
But their silence (Professor Best and Dr. Vlasak) on the issue (for example) of PeTA's killing and sterilizing and whether or not PeTA is "speciesist" or human beings should be treated according to the PeTA model is either a fatal philosophical flaw, of a failure of courage on the part of Professor Best (and other AR luminaries) to grapple with a fundamental issue.
I don't buy Professor Best's case, not the least reason being that it is fatally incomplete, and yet that doesn't stop him from endorsing violence in the furtherance of AR ideology. When you couple that with the highly violent AR movement that already exists in Great Britain, the British government is showing good judgement in keeping him out.
After all, they're just trying to connect dots . . .