Animal Rights

From: Josh Martin (
Date: Wed Apr 04 2001 - 17:05:44 MDT

It hasn't had much (if any) national news coverage yet, but OSU is
experiencing an animal rights controversy. The only real coverage I could
find was from our school newspaper, so please excuse the quality:

The gist of it is that Dr. Michael Podell
(, whom I have met,
and attended a lecture by him, is doing research on the effect of
methamphetamines and drug abuse. He is using cats for this research, and
therefore has triggered a public relations nightmare with the animal rights
people. He has received threats, and his research building was vandalized.

I have taken this opportunity to get to know the AR folks (some of which
are represented here: I just
talked to one of them, who is part of a hunger strike (120 hours for 120
cats). I am going to attend some of their meetings, though she warned me
that a university professor had been banished for "offending people." I
would also like to be a voice of reason in this debate.

There is a further complication: The university is very tight-lipped about
this whole business, not allowing anything to be said in defense of the
research by a university official.

That said, two things:

1. Some of you (Greg Burch in particular, I think) have experience with the
many forms of luddites. How should I proceed? I was able to make minor
points with the girl I spoke to today (it didn't hurt that I was my usual
charming self). She used terms like "torture" and "vivisection"
(apparently, *all* animal research is vivisection) to describe the research,
and I tried to make her see how that inhibits communication. I also made
the point that I, too, feel that the pain and suffering of animals should be
reduced. She even said that I "sound like a nice guy."

Our main problems came down to opinions on ethics. She thinks that it is
unethical to do research on animals. I don't. I tried to defend my view on
this, but my main support, that not preserving intelligence ensures that all
life will eventually die, and that is nihilistic, would not go over well.
How does one communicate, if at all, with these people? My dad is a real
estate developer (home builder), and an officer of the Ohio branch of the
National Home Builder's Association. He and a fellow officer joined an
anti-development group, and have been able to tone it down to a "responsible
development" standpoint, from which they can work together. I am
considering trying this with the animal rights group, but it may be
impossible in this case. Also, what arguments can I make to fence-sitters?
I also talk to many people who have been partially swayed by the AR nuts'

2. I may have, or be able to obtain, information that the university does
not want out, at least from official mouthpieces. Should I take a risk and
use these in an article I will write for the school paper?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer me. In any case, I will be
in the trenches shortly, fighting the Extropian fight.


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