As luck would have it, I now have a transcript of the October 26, 2005 Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works hearing which I've reported on extensively. Although the prepared statements by each of the witnesses can be accessed here, a transcript of the question and answer sessions afterwards is not so easily found, and I think having such transcripts available as a resource makes wonderful sense.
Of these, the first deals mostly with bureaucratic issues (like what legal tools law enforcement needs) and the second deals more with the impact of AR terror tactics on humans, the behavior of the New York Stock Exchange, and AR ideology, as outlined by the creepy answers of Jerry Vlasak, MD.
The following is the second Q & A, which is revealing in the extreme.
Senator Inhofe. Okay. Dr. Vlasak, do your fellow animal rights activists understand that animal testing is required by law and therefore the people who are performing this testing are merely following the law. Do they understand that, and do you understand that?
Dr. Vlasak. I understand that they are merely following the law, and the law in this case is wrong, just like the law that allowed slavery was wrong at one time.
Senator Inhofe. Well, you mentioned slavery, you also mentioned slavery in several of the comments that you made, as well as your testimony. You analogized the plight of animals to that of the African-American slaves of early American history, asserting that the animal rights movement is similar to that of the Underground Railroad. You even at one time or several times have talked about the Jews in Nazi Germany.
It sounds to me, in looking at this, like you’re evaluating the lives of human beings in a similar way that you are animals. Do you think animals’ lives are as precious as human life?
Dr. Vlasak. Non-human lives, non-human animal lives, are as precious as animal lives. At one time, racism and sexism and homophobism were prominent in our society. Today speciesism is prominent in our society. It is just as wrong as racism. [My emphasis . . . ed]
Senator Inhofe. So you do put them in the same category, the animals of non-human and human lives? Is that correct?
Dr. Vlasak. They are morally equal.
Senator Inhofe. They are morally equal?
Dr. Vlasak. They are.
Dr. Vlasak is to be commended for his honesty, if not his intentions. He is merely affirming the underlying premise of the entire Animal Rights industry: that the life of an animal and that of a human are equally valuable, and that to discriminate on the basis of differences in species (i.e. to privilege "human persons" over "non-human persons" . . .) is as immoral and as unethical as to discriminate on the basis of race, age or sex. (See my discussion of AR's core principle here.)
Beginning with this garden-variety core AR premise Dr. Vlasak then follows the logical trail to its conclusion: if it is true that the life of a human and that of an animal are equally valuable, then it is morally acceptable to kill "n" humans if you can save "n+1" animals.
Indeed, if all lives are of equal worth, what is the argument against killing humans to save animals?
If you accept the premise, Dr. Vlasak's logic is flawless.
And Dr. Vlasak accepts the premise, because his conscience tells him to, and his conscience is infallible.
Senator Inhofe. One of the statements you made at the animal rights convention when you were defending assassinating people, murdering people, you said, let me put it up here to make sure I’m not misquoting you, “I don’t think you’d have to kill, assassinate too many. I think for five lives, ten lives, fifteen human lives, we could save a million, two million, or ten million non-human lives.’’
You’re advocating the murder of individuals, isn’t that correct?
Dr. Vlasak. I made that statement, and I stand by that statement. That statement is made in the context that the struggle for animal liberation is no different than struggles for liberation elsewhere, whether the struggle for liberation in South Africa against the apartheid regime, whether the liberation against the communists, whether it was the liberation struggles in Algeria, Viet Nam or Iraq today, liberation struggles occasionally or usually, I should say, usually end up in violence.
There is plenty of violence being used on the other side of the equation. These animals are being terrorized, murdered and killed by the millions every day. The animal rights movement has been notoriously non-violent up to this point.
But I don’t believe that — I believe as my statement says —
Senator Inhofe. Let me interrupt. You said it has been notoriously non-violent up to this time?
Dr. Vlasak. That is correct.
Senator Inhofe. You don’t think there is violence in the testimony you’ve heard?
Dr. Vlasak. I think when you compare the 500 animals being murdered every single day at Huntingdon Life Sciences, which is just one company, I think when you look at the amount of violence that goes on at Mr. Boruchin’s house, getting a little spray paint on the wall, I think if you look at the amount of violence that went on at this yacht club in New York, where again some spray paint was slapped up on a wall, I don’t think you can compare that kind of vandalism with the murder of millions of animals.
Senator Inhofe. And so you call for the murders of researchers and human life?
Dr. Vlasak. I said in that statement and I meant in that statement that people who are hurting animals and who will not stop when told to stop, one option would be to stop them using any means necessary and that was the context in which that statement was made.
Senator Inhofe. Including murdering them, is that correct?
Dr. Vlasak. Pardon?
Senator Inhofe. Including murdering them?
Dr. Vlasak. I said that would be a morally justifiable solution to the problem.
Again, I would remind you, that the underlying premise of AR dictates what is morally justifiable to Animal Rights activists.
If you believe that the life of an animal is of equal value to that of a human — the core AR premise — then Dr. Vlasak has logic-ed himself into a morally-acceptable course of action: you kill a smaller number of humans to save a greater number of animals.
Dr. Vlasak isn't out of step with his ideology at all: he is far more honest and explicit about what that ideology requires of the true believer than the dilettantes in the more coy — and profitable — AR organizations like PeTA and HSUS.
Senator Inhofe. Senator Lautenberg.
Senator Lautenberg. Dr. Vlasak, you approve of these dastardly acts in the name of liberation, of a liberation movement. Do you have any children?
Dr. Vlasak. I have no children. And just to be clear, I don’t approve of any unnecessary suffering. And I wish these things didn’t have to happen.
This is a fascinating point, one I've long been interested in. Children are a untidy complication for ideologues because it creates a conflict of loyalty.
It's one thing to martyr oneself to the cause, quite another to martyr one's child. Not having children leaves the true believer free to impose his (or her) beliefs on those who do without the heart-rending problem of competing interests . . . when the interests of my ideology and my child conflict, how do I choose?
Not that AR activists are all that keen to forsake lifesaving medical treatment for themselves, treatment that inevitably funnels profits back to the detested pharmaceutical companies, some of which they use for further animal experiments. The case of Josh Harper and Janet Tomlinson come immediately to mind . . .
But having children in the picture would complicate things far, far more for the ideologue than they need to be . . .
Senator Lautenberg. Fine. You do. And what you have said confirms it. So I just want to go there. I want to know who you are, what makes you tick. Because it is so revolting to hear what you say about the murder. These aren’t extermination camps. What’s being done, whether you like it or not, is to try and improve the quality of life for human beings. This isn’t Germany.
Senator Lautenberg understands . . . but you sense that he's also astounded. He can't believe what he's hearing.
Senator: Believe it!
How do you feel about people, you said you think people who have a cause have a right to violence. How about the guys who kill our soldiers and who killed the people in the Trade Towers? They have a cause. Is that okay with you?
Dr. Vlasak. No. Unnecessary loss of life is never okay with me. I extend that loss of life to animal life, non-human animal life as well.
Senator Lautenberg. You’re the super moralist, you’re deciding where it’s right and where it’s wrong. Many people who have causes, some of them justified, but to take tactics like the intimidation of people to spoil their lives or spoil their ability to make a living is an outrageous thing to propose. You’re anti-social in your behavior, obviously. But to sit here so smugly and be proud of the fact that you stand by this statement about five or ten lives, if those lives were your kids, well, maybe you don’t have anybody you love. You don’t have any kids.
. . . super moralist . . . antisocial . . .outrageous . . . smug . . .
And again, we return to children. Dr. Vlasak has the luxury of not ever having to decide between his ideology and his child. His belief is pure because he is unconflicted, as are several AR luminaries (Ingrid Newkirk, PeTA's president, springs to mind — she had herself sterilized at 22, and actively opposes having children, and is on record as saying that the world would be a better place without humans [op cit]).
Can I ask you a question? Mr. Boruchin’s life has been exposed, credit card numbers, everything else. Where did you go to medical school?
Dr. Vlasak. I attended medical school at the University of Texas, in Houston.
Senator Lautenberg. And where do you practice now?
Dr. Vlasak. I practice in the Los Angeles area.
Senator Lautenberg. At a hospital?
Dr. Vlasak. I do. A number of hospitals.
Senator Lautenberg. What is your favorite, what is your dominant hospital activity?
Dr. Vlasak. I practice at several hospitals in the Riverside and San Bernadino area.
Senator Lautenberg. Name one.
Dr. Vlasak. Loma Linda University.
Dr. Vlasak appears reluctant to reveal where he has hospital privileges — he's certainly not overly forthcoming about all the prestigious institutions where he has privileges . . . I wonder why?
Senator Lautenberg. Mr. Chairman, first of all, I think in terms of the New York Stock Exchange, a place I am familiar with through my earlier business life, ADP, and also my company, my ex-company, provided restoration of activities after 9/11. The assault took place on a Tuesday and by Monday, my company, my ex- company, without contract, without pricing discussions, had a company named Cantor Fitzgerald back and operating, in less than six days, never had any business with them before.
So I am directly involved, have been, and we listed on the New York Stock Exchange. We could subpoena records, I guess, Mr. Chairman, and find out why it is that the New York Stock Exchange decided not to permit this company’s listing. Because if all things are in order, this isn’t the local golf club or something. Someone applies and they have the qualifications financially and there is no scandal attached, I assume that you have no right not to list. Is that so, Mr. Bernard?
Mr. Bernard. No, sir, that’s not so. Those so-called blackline criteria are the minimum bar, and the Exchange has the right, in its rules approved by the SEC, to bring in other factors in making a listing decision.
Senator Lautenberg. Right. But if they meet the criteria that’s established, is someone saying, I don’t like the way he combs his hair or something?
Mr. Bernard. Well, it’s certainly not to be trivialized, but the Exchange has minimum criteria that are financial and corporate governance.
Senator Lautenberg. Right.
Mr. Bernard. After that, it’s making a business decision, just as ADP would in choosing to help Cantor Fitzgerald, for which ADP should be very much appreciated.
In this case the "business decision" seems to have been to cave to terrorist threats.
Senator Lautenberg. I think we ought to go further.
Dr. Vlasak, how do you feel about animals like rats and mice? The use of experimentation on them to see how they react to different medications, things of that nature, would you permit that?
Dr. Vlasak. I think it’s a hugely wasteful use of scarce resource dollars that we have in the medical industry. We have much better ways of showing whether a drug is toxic to a human being or not, rather than choking it down a rat’s or a mouse’s throat.
I think from a scientific standpoint __
Senator Lautenberg. If they are injected __
Dr. Vlasak. Pardon?
Senator Lautenberg. If they are injected with a material, is that okay?
Dr. Vlasak. As I was trying to explain to you, I think from a scientific standpoint, there is so little validity to doing that that we’re wasting hundreds of millions of scarce health care dollars. Even if it did work, though, and it doesn’t, but even if it did, I’d still be against it. Because the same reason I’m against the experimentation that happened on human beings against their will, whether it was in Nazi concentration camps or whether it was here in the United States —
Again, we see Dr. Vlasak operating in the AR moral framework, the one premised on the life of a human and an animal being of equal value . . .
Senator Lautenberg. We shouldn’t experiment on human beings.
. . . and Senator Lautenberg summarily rejecting that framework . . ..
Dr. Vlasak. There were people who were experimented on against their will. They got good, useful results and they published it in the same medical journals that I read today. But it was wrong. Whether it worked or not doesn’t matter.
Senator Lautenberg. Since I have the mic on this side, I would prefer that we follow my line. So you would say, there is something called the Lautenberg Cancer Research Center. I helped establish that, because my father died when he was 43 years old. He got sick at age 42, he worked in a mill in Patterson, New Jersey, as did his brother, my uncle. He died when he was 52, also cancer, their father died also of cancer when he was 56.
And when I had the good fortune of success in business, I put some resources into a group of New Jersey scientists who were moving abroad, to learn more about cancer research. After watching my father suffer for a year, 13 months, he was athletic, he was strong, he exercised, he was very careful about his diet, I had enlisted in the Army when my dad finally died, and I made the decision then that I would do whatever I can to try and prevent another family from undergoing the same torture and grief, the same individual.
But you are so smug, if you’ll forgive me, about what is right and what is wrong. If I asked you a question about mice, mice that are raised particularly, Mr. Chairman, for learning more about the anatomy of the animal and see if we can convert that. And right now, there is all kinds of talk about using, even using animal organs for life saving. You wouldn’t permit that, would you?
Senator Lautenberg still can't quite believe what he's hearing . . .
Believe it, senator.
Dr. Vlasak. Well, I’m sorry to say that your organization is wasting money on mice and rat experimentation, when we know much better ways to find cures for human beings.
Senator Lautenberg. I’ll tell the scientists there about that.
Dr. Vlasak. Let me just address the transplantation issue that you brought up. As you know, transplantation, or placing animal organs into human beings, that’s not going to work. It hasn’t worked, and it’s not going to work any time in the near future. We have a hard enough time transplanting human organs into human beings and all the immunosuppressives that are required to do that.
Senator Lautenberg. We can’t find them all that we need.
Dr. Vlasak. Well, we could, if we had a presumed consent law, for instance. If you guys would pass a law that says everybody’s an organ donor unless proven otherwise, or unless they declare they don’t want to be. This has been done in Belgium, they get all the organs they need by doing laws like that.
There is not a shortage of organs absolutely, there is a shortage of organs that we can get at the last minute. I deal in trauma patients, I see people die every day. I save lives, but I lose lives sometimes as well.
Senator Lautenberg. But you’re willing to take lives. That’s the anomaly here. You are willing to say that somebody you don’t know, somebody’s kid, somebody’s parent, somebody’s brother, somebody’s sister, take that life, that’s okay.
Dr. Vlasak. These are not innocent lives.
Dr. Vlasak's assertion that kids, parents, brothers and sisters are "not innocent lives" is beyond chilling — is creepy, freakish stuff.
What kind of a world would the repellent Dr. Vlasak inflict on us, for all his call for a kinder, gentler world? One in which an adult's behavior is controlled by threatening his kids, parents, sibs . . .
This guy is in serious need of professional help . . . or so I believe.
But you make your own call.
Senator Lautenberg. You’ll teach those SOBs a lesson about killing those mice or killing those animals, or doing experimentation that’s going to make this world — why are we living longer? It is because we experimented in different ways. And for you to sit there and you decide what the proper course of action is in the sanctity of your practice and the rules of your club here, which is identified in your statement, “morally acceptable,’’ I don’t want to waste my own energy any more.
Senator Lautenberg is clearly repelled by Dr. Vlasak.
Mr. Chairman, this is an outrage to have an individual sit here and impose a standard that is supposed to fit all of society. I don’t know whether, at Mr. Bibi’s company, everything they do is exactly right. I know that what they’re trying to do is to help us live better lives, all of us. And I hope that they continue.
And when I see a kid down here, at Walter Reed Hospital, who’s lost a leg or lost a part of his body, and they find ways, because they have experimented with things, maybe to regrow even bone, it’s fantastic, and I want it to continue. And you have no right to intimidate people who are engaged in a proper practice under our laws. You want the law changed? Write letters. Come down here and ask for a change in law about whether or not animal experimentation is right. Don’t take the law into your own hands. That’s a bad mistake.
Dr. Vlasak. HLS isn’t trying to save human lives. They’re trying to turn a profit, nothing else.
Now here's an important insight into how Dr. Vlasak ticks: what is all important to him isn't what HLS does or what benefits acrue from their enterprise, but what they intend to do — their motives are more important than the consequence of their actions.
And Dr. Vlasak is unwilling to see any modicum at all of altruism in their motives: "They're trying to turn a profit, nothing else."
Dr. Vlasak can read their collective mind, understand their motives. And their motives are simple and evil, uncomplicated by the sorts of conflicts that inevitably cloud all human thoughts . . .
Just as surely as he knows the motives of HLS executives are exclusively evil, Dr. Vlasak knows his own motives are exclusively pure. And with pure motives, he can justify any act in behalf of his cause, up to and including killing humans.
Dr. Vlasak's conscience is infallible, or so he believes. As long as his conscience is clear, he is incapable of doing wrong . . . he is a god, a god unto himself.
How creepy, how surreal is the mind that thinks this way?
Senator Inhofe. Senator Lautenberg, thank you. I think you and I can go a long ways to correcting what we have seen here today with the law that we are introducing, and I look forward to working with you on the floor of the Senate to make sure that we get this thing passed and give the FBI and the Department of Justice the necessary tools to stop this type of perversion in our society.
My son called me up right before this hearing, he noticed we are having this hearing. He’s a doctor. He said, at some point, you need to explain to them that it’s either going to be the lives of these animals or human life. When I call him back, Dr. Vlasak, that we have a witness who equates animals lives with human lives, then that takes away all the argument. If you believe that in your own heart, what you do, and you have advocated the assassination, the murder of human lives, of human beings, of researchers, then I don’t see any reason to go any further with this.
Senator Inhofe is perfectly correct. The difference between his premise — that a human life is of greater worth than an animal life — and that of Dr. Vlasak — that the life of a human and an animal are equally valuable — precludes using the normal tools of negotiation and compromise to find common ground.
I hope Senator Inhofe and Senator Lautenberg, particularly, understand that the premise Dr. Vlasak operates under is the premise underlying AR as a whole. Dr. Vlasak is simply much more candid than his more cautious brethren, who are reluctant to express themselves as clearly as Dr. Vlasak because they know it would mean the death of their movement.
I can just assure you that we are going to give law enforcement the necessary tools to stop this type of thing from happening. I can assure you of that. That’s not a maybe, that’s a definite.
And the rest of you, for having the courage to come here and relate this to us today, I can assure you that there are many members who aren’t here who are on this panel whose staff is here. They will be submitting questions for the record to all four of you. I hope that you will be able to respond to those, and I can assure you, this has been a very useful hearing. I appreciate your presence here.
We are adjourned.
Well, there you have it. A resource to be used.