In the culture war in which Animal Rights people pit themselves against Animal Welfare people, there is a natural waxing and waning of success, as judged from either perspective.
Recently, Animal Rights people could claim a large victory when Catherine Kinney, President of the New York Stock Exchange, caved to AR pressure and slammed the door in the face of Life Sciences, reneging on an agreement to list them on the NYSE at the very last moment (literally — she announced that listing had been "postponed" at the breakfast organized to celebrate the listing, without first having consulted with the NYSE Board of Directors). (I blogged on this here.)
The implications of the President Kinney's cowardice are profoundly worrying: once word gets out that she can be stampeded into appeasing thugs who threaten her, and that her attempt to appease takes the form of who is and who is not listed on the exchange, where does it end?
If AR folks can intimidate the President Kinney and her cohorts at the NYSE into compliance, why can't Islamic terrorists, the Mafia, La Raza, or the American Nazi Party?
To me, this is a colossal story, because the stakes are so high, and President Kinney et al caved so easily.
But to my astonishment, the story appeared dead — the mainstream media, including the New York Times, simply ignored it. (There were a few exceptions — the New York Post being a notable one.)
But things now seem to be improving. First, Debra Saunders, a nationally syndicated columnist, has written a scathing article about all this:
THIS MONTH, forces who oppose scientific research scored a big victory when the New York Stock Exchange dropped its plans to list an animal-research firm, Life Sciences Research, on Sept. 7. A spokesperson confirmed yesterday that the listing was still postponed and refused to explain why.
Chalk this up as a victory for anti-science terrorists.
Their tactics succeeded in chasing Life Sciences Research -- formerly Huntingdon Life Sciences -- from the United Kingdom to the United States in 2002.
[ . . . ]
The London Times reported how these tactics may have worked on the New York Stock Exchange as the extremists boasted that they got to a market maker -- a business that facilitates exchange trades -- by vandalizing the market maker's yacht club. I called Carr Securities to ask if the story was true. Carr Securities Chairman Walter Carucci told me he was "tired of this issue" and hung up on me. Be it noted that the company did issue a press release in August that announced it doesn't deal in Life Sciences stock.
So why isn't the NYSE's appeasement a big story? A Nexis search showed no mention of it in the New York Times, even though it has a prominent business section and the harassment hit biggies in the gray lady's hometown. The Chronicle ran a brief.
My guess: The extremists are not members of the religious right; instead, these enemies of science hail from the rat-hugging left. They don't tote Bibles; they join groups such as SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty), ALF (Animal Liberation Front) and WAR (Win Animal Rights) that oppose medical research on animals, as well as meat-eating. [My emphasis . . . ed]
I'm open to the possibility that she's wrong, but I can't think of any alternative explanation. "It's not newsworthy" just doesn't cut it when you stop to think of the slippery slope Ms Kinney and the NYSE have stepped onto: if they were unable to muster the resolve to resist the AR thugs, how are they going to resist pressures from other special interest groups who are inclined towards violence?
Ms Saunders gets it:
Allow me to explain why this story is important.
First, sick people are less likely to be cured if violent fanatics scare researchers out of business.
Second, as Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., wrote in a letter to NYSE President Catherine Kinney, "What happens then to the other companies in the same business as LSR that currently trade on the NYSE? Would you not expect activists to pressure the NYSE to delist those companies?" [My emphasis . . . ed]
Third, if these tactics are successful, researchers could leave the country. As Frankie Trull of the Foundation for Biomedical Research said, "If the climate gets tough enough, these companies aren't going out of business, they're going to China," or some other country that would not tolerate these criminal tactics.
Yes . . . if the biomedical research is farmed out to other countries, what guarantee do we have that their facilities will be as concerned with animal welfare as our own are?
Put aside for a moment our country's economic loss, and consider this: If entire companies move overseas to develop and test their products, will we in the US refuse beneficial pharmaceuticals if they are developed using animals in ways that egregiously violate our own Animal Welfare standards?
I don't think so . . . which means that if you're an AR activist, and you win the battle and drive the use of animals in research from our shores, you aren't doing the animals any good at all. Quite the contrary.
Most important: Terrorism should never be a winning strategy. The activists would be a menace if they stuck to harassing medical researchers, but the animal-rights movement is so hate-filled that anonymous activists also harass civilians who are only loosely associated with the research. They don't just go after Wall Street execs, they also pick on paralegals. They don't just harass workers, they also harass their families. Like other terrorists, they apparently figure anyone who is not with them is guilty, and hence deserving of punishment. . . .
Happily, Ms Saunders wasn't the only one to pick up on this issue: so too did the Wall Street Journal (subscription required).
The New York Stock Exchange's decision earlier this month to yank a planned stock listing of an animal-testing company marked a success for the extreme tactics of animal-rights activists.
But it was only the most visible sign of a battle that has been raging with increased ferocity in recent years in courts, at corporate headquarters and sometimes at the homes of executives.
At one time known for throwing paint on fur coats, some animal-rights activists are now seen by the drug industry and law enforcers as home-grown terrorists who launch attacks against individuals connected to animal testing.
[ . . . ]
SHAC's targeting of the New York Stock Exchange is the latest in a string of actions it has taken against companies in recent years. The group is named in a suit filed in New Jersey State Superior Court by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., and one of its divisions which alleges, among other things, that SHAC members broke into the home of an executive and charged goods on his credit card.
"There's been no other movement that has brought as much violence and destruction and vandalism" as animal-rights and environmental-rights activists, says John Lewis, Federal Bureau of Investigation deputy assistant director in charge of counterterrorism. (The FBI's international terrorism division tracks foreign terrorists.)
SHAC's quest to shut down Huntingdon Life Sciences, a British concern with facilities in the U.S., has spawned related groups. In July, members of Philadelphia-based Hugs for Puppies were arrested outside of drug company Hoffman-La Roche Inc. and charged with criminal trespassing, criminal mischief and conspiracy to commit criminal mischief.
Despite its cuddly name, Hugs for Puppies alarms drug-industry employees. The group, like many animal-rights activists, decries biomedical research that involves animal testing as cruel and unnecessary. One of its main tactics is to publicize personal information about employees and their families.
At a recent biotechnology conference in Philadelphia, the group distributed a flier and map with the names, home addresses and phone numbers of several drug-company employees in the area. The brochure said it didn't intend to promote illegal activity, but added, "Of course, what you do is up to you," and give "our friends in the pharma and biotech industries memories that will last a lifetime."
[ . . . ]
So — the bad news is that the radical Animal Rights people scored a victory, and the message is now clear: those favoring violence and intimidation within the AR movement have proven they can get results, and big ones at that.
But the good news is that in their victory, they may have watered a budding anti-AR opposition (like the CCF, the NAIA, and more recently, the NRA), one that is coming increasingly to see that the Animal Rights movement poses a real threat to our way of life, one that recognizes that there is no bright line separating above ground groups like PeTA and the violent underground groups like the ALF, ELF and SHAC.
That's a big step.