Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Monthly Archives: September 2008

Blog Action Day – October 15, 2008: Poverty

Blog Action Day is on October 15 again. I participated last year, which had a focus on the environment. This year’s focus is on Poverty.

As they ramp up this year and post on their blog, they had a post that started out by asking us to think about poverty. To think about it on many levels. At the top of the post was a picture of a young woman with two dogs.

Is she homeless? Living in poverty? She is sitting against a wall of a building, on the sidewalk, so the impression being given is certainly of hard times. Whether it is an accurate portrayal of her life, or merely a metaphor, it is nevertheless a picture that does make you think.

At least it makes me think.

Blogging about the environment was easy last year, from an animal rights perspective. We all depend on the environment for our very lives, and so the connection is easy and obvious – environmental abuse is animal abuse. And suicidal as well, but few think of it that way.

Blogging about poverty as relates to animal rights might be a bigger challenge, but I think it is one that is worth taking on. There are connections, always, and I believe that it is important to constantly push ourselves to understand, on a deep level, how these connections come into play.

They are also encouraging us to act, to do something to call attention to the issue of poverty, or to do something to positively impact the lives of those living in poverty. October 15 is on a Wednesday, so personally I’m not going to try to take action on the day itself, but I am thinking about how I can take action on another day. Maybe on many other days.

I have a friend who has recently become involved with a couple of his local FNB groups. I might try to find and join in a local group here as my action. It is a great intersection between the promotion of veganism and the alleviation of one of the sufferings of poverty – providing healthy filling vegan food to those in need.

Or I might think of something else. It seems like there is plenty that needs doing, there should be no end to the ideas.

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VeganMoFo

Okay, so this is likely not news to the vast majority out there, but as much of my blog-reading time is spent reading photography blogs and biking blogs rather than vegan food blogs or animal rights blogs (I have a few exceptions, it is true, but I’m really bike-obsessed at the moment), I was happy when a friend forwarded me a link to Isa’s announcement of VeganMoFo.

Join us for VeganMofo – the Vegan Month Of Food. The idea is to write as much as you can for the month of October about vegan food. The blog entries can be about anything food related – your love of tongs, your top secret tofu pressing techniques, the first time your mom cooked vegan for you, vegan options in Timbuktu – you get the idea.

It is in October, rather than the traditional (in terms of referring back to NaBloPoMo, which I believe was the inspiration for VeganMoFo) November, and the goal is 20 posts in October. You can become part of the official group by commenting on isa’s post, and there is a flickr group. All that good stuff.

Me, I don’t usually talk about food, except apparently when I’m complaining about team lunches. But I have been eating a lot more food lately (thanks to the bike commuting), so I have been cooking more, and frankly thinking about food a lot more.

So. Maybe it won’t be such a stretch for me. I’m going to give it a try, anyway!

The 1680

I heard about a project recently, called “The 1680”. I’ll let them describe it, from their facebook page:

53 billion land animals are slaughtered every year worldwide for the meat and dairy industries. None of these deaths are necessary in any way.

This is too big a number to really comprehend but it becomes easier if we think of it as 1680 animals every second.

We are looking for individuals to help us launch an exciting new campaign concept that will highlight this massive death toll of animals killed for food worldwide.

Our aim is to produce a piece of eye catching imagery that may be used for campaign purposes. We wish to depict the 1680 killed every second with a montage of pictures, drawn by you!

We hope to gather 1680 drawings of individual ‘food’(?) animals with each representing one animal death. You do not need to be an accomplished artist to participate, a doodle will do! Or you may make your drawing as detailed as you like, however, please note that your drawing should measure 3.5cm by 4.5 cm, like a portrait passport photo. For time saving purposes we would appreciate it if you would resize your own images if necessary, however we will do this if you are unable. We welcome all different styles as we wish to make this montage as interesting and eye catching as possible. Colour or black and white images are fine and above all have fun!

We regret that we cannot guarantee everyone’s picture will be used as we are unsure at this stage of how many entrants we will receive.

Please send your pictures to the1680@hotmail.co.uk

We will be setting up a website (the1680.org) that will have information and ideas for what we, as individuals, can do if animal exploitation concerns us. The website will not promote welfare reform, it will promote abolition rather than regulation.

There is also a myspace group (http://groups.myspace.com/the1680)

I can hardly draw recognizable stick figures, but I have been assured that a stick-figure cow would do. I might give it a go. Or maybe they’d let me turn a picture into a drawing via the handy photoshop filters, and “cheat” that way! At least then we’d be assured that what I submitted would look like something other than a bunch of squiggles.

There are several aspects to this project that make me want to support it:

  1. It is creative
  2. It is collaborative
  3. It is inclusive
  4. It isn’t specific to one country, in terms of the numbers being quoted and used.

It made me realize that while I can quote numbers of animals killed in a variety of ways here in the U.S., I couldn’t even guess as to numbers in other places in the world. I have been bothered by that, but not enough, obviously, to do some research. So. Now I’m being educated, and have a chance at making a fool of myself with a stick figure cow drawing!

charlotte

charlotte

border walls and habitat fragmentation

I am not a fan of borders. I’ve written about it before. Many of the issues with the enforcement of borders are social. It is about power, about control. Denying access to some groups of people gives others more power.

Drawing a line on a piece of paper and fighting wars to maintain that as your territory means that despite treaties and agreements signed, the country upstream (who happens to have nuclear weapons en mass, and who has proven themselves to be more than willing to use those weapons) can decimate the Colorado River leaving nothing but a polluted trickle for their southern neighbors. That it destroyed a formerly fertile delta and bird estuary was merely a side-effect of the political power play of water control.

Some people are threatened by the trickle of people crossing the border “illegally”. Mary posted about this, and described some of the pampered rich folks who are threatened by those taking jobs they wouldn’t deign to work themselves. Jobs that are worked by people who are so desperate for the paltry opportunities in this not-so-golden land that they will risk death in the harshest deserts of this country in order to come here and work these crap jobs in horrible conditions. And so a wall is being built. Or, I should say, another wall. The existing walls have not been effective in keeping people the politicians like to call “illegal” out of this country, but the facts were ignored.

That wall is expensive.

It has the obvious associated monentary costs, of course, a budget laughably large and still overrun, but it also has what I’ll call a democratic cost. As in, democratic process is not being followed in the raising of the wall, which cedes yet more power to the government and the corporations who run it. There is a social cost, as there is with any border, but you need only look to the mental impact of the Berlin Wall on the people of both West and East Germany to see that there is a greater social cost when there is a wall guarded by automatons with machine guns to enforce the rules of that wall.

Ron sent me a few links, and asked if I’d post them. One of them is a blog that is pretty clear in its stance, No Border Wall, and which is doing a good job of looking at a multitude of issues surrounding the wall.

While the walls built along the U.S./Mexico border since the 1990s have done tremendous environmental damage, they have not saved any human lives. Chertoff cannot point to a single terrorist who has attempted to cross the U.S./Mexico border, much less one turned back by a section of border wall. It has not even reduced the number of undocumented immigrants who enter the country each year seeking work. Four months before Chertoff claimed that if we do not build walls we must be “prepared to pay human lives,” the Congressional Research Service issued a report which found that the border wall “did not have a discernible impact on the influx of unauthorized aliens coming across the border.”

And the final impact, which most people ignore, but which is of high importance to animal rights activists, is the devastation these walls have on the animals themselves.

Habitat fragmentation is a big part of this.

For visual proof of what happens to the animals, visit Demarcated Landscapes and see that Mountain Lions are getting stuck at the wall. And snakes get stuck too.

And here’s why: it isn’t just the big critters being harmed. The Sierra Club film has video of a whip snake that tells us that even the little guys are confused by the wall. Particularly awful is the knowledge that just a few meters hence, there was a “wildlife window,” a small gap in the fence designed for these types of species. How would a whip snake know such a thing? Instead, it just tried and tried and tried the same spot.

The Sierra Club has a video out about the impact of this wall on the wildlife.

Habitat fragmentation is deadly, and has profound impacts on entire populations and ecosystems. This wall that is being built is costing human and animal lives. It isn’t about security or even about immigration. It is about power.

I heard someone talk about his experience at a No Borders camp at the Mexicali/Calexico border in November of 2007. It was moving, and fascinating all at the same time. For a variety of reasons. Believe in borders or not, I think everyone can learn something from what these activists have to say.


The US Mexico border is a place of much conflict, suffering and tragedy. The death rate along the border is truly alarming. For the past seven years, a rough average of 500 migrants have been found dead on the border every year. Upwards of 4000 people have died trying to cross this border since 2000. And even this figure is a low estimate, as it accounts for only those people whose bodies have been found.

To put this in perspective, far more people have died on the US/Mexico border since 1995 than were killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September the 11th, 2001. Another pungent comparison is that more people have died on the US/Mexico border in the last eight years than throughout the entire 28 year duration of the Berlin wall. If statistics are at all to be believed, the US/Mexico border since 2000 has been 300 times more fatal to Mexicans than the Berlin wall was to Germans.

On a string stretching all around the camp on the US side, four thousand small white flags fluttered in the desert wind, each representing a migrant casualty of the border since 1995. For the campers, each small piece of cloth was a reason to be there, a reason to put themselves at risk, a reason to show their opposition to this ongoing tragedy and express and embody their desires to build a world without the borders that cause it.

micro-activism

I was reading a blog recently that mentioned micro-activism. This caught my eye, and my thoughts.

Lately I’ve been feeling like I’ve been doing a whole lot of nothing when it comes to activism. I go through this fairly often. What is activism?

Sometimes it is obvious. Leafletting, giving a talk on veganism, setting up a display at the library, etc…these things are clear and obvious. But I rarely do any of those obvious things.

I don’t even talk about veganism that often, mostly because the majority of my interactions with people are at work, where we are reminded every week (literally) to not discuss anything that others might not agree with, or at the sanctuary, where we all pretty much are on the same page already.

So what do I do? What do I have time to do?

I don’t even blog that often, not that I’ve ever thought my blog was much in the way of activism, as it mostly seems to be my random thoughts…like now.

One of the reasons I don’t have much time during the week is because 2.5 hours of each day is spent on my bike commute.

And that means that one of the reasons I don’t have much time for even writing letters during the week is because I’m actually pretty busy living my beliefs.

Is that activism?

I think it is, in a way. It is important, regardless. So when I read someone’s thoughts on micro-activism, I paid attention. This, finally, was something I was comfortable applying to “what I do” in my daily life.

Living our beliefs is incredibly important, setting that example can speak louder than any of our logical words. Sometimes it takes a fierce will, or a lot of effort, to accomplish that. Taking care of ourselves really should be part of that. Eating tasty things at work might be part of that. Looking healthy, having energy, these are (like it or not) important non-verbal ways to help convince people to think about veganism. Or bike commuting. Or both.

Am I an activist? Or am I just going beyond what many do in order to live my beliefs? Do I have to get arrested to be an activist?

Do I care about these labels?

Not so much.

But it is nice to have a term that ties together how-I-live-my-life with the advocacy that I try to fit in, when I have time and feel up to the task.

a cricket rescue

This morning I walked into the bathroom at work, and heard the unmistakable sound of a cricket. And it was loud.

At first I had the confused thought that it was coming from the ceiling. Then I thought to look on the ground, and sure enough, there was a cricket hiding behind the toilet. I managed to scoop him up, and despite having him escape once as I opened the door to leave the ladies room, I was able to recapture him and keep him in my cupped-together hands.

Approaching the back door, still in my riding gear (which is really just a t-shirt and yoga pants, I don’t go superman-style for my bike commutes), I poked my head into the cube of a coworker who is always in as early as I am.

“Could you open the door for me? ” I asked him.

Always agreeable, he got up with a smile to open the door.

He held it for me (I didn’t have my badge with me either, of course) as I jogged to the grassy woodsy area off the back parking lot.

He never questioned what I was doing, or why I was saving a cricket. No comments at all, neither positive nor negative. Which, frankly, is a relief. I get enough unsolicited (and ignorant) advice during my bike commutes, I enjoy the simple acceptance of what might appear to be yet more crazy behavior from the representative vegan/bike commuter.

I couldn’t help but to think of what my response would have been, had he asked.

“Why the effort to save a cricket?” he might have asked.

“I choose life.” I might have responded.

And while that is a really simplistic explanation for why I’m vegan, why I’m bike commuting, why I’m determined to make the best environmental choices I can, it is a pretty encompassing one.

It is question that I think, if put baldly, most would have a hard time justifying any other response.

Can you imagine asking someone why they choose death, as they eat the remnants of an animal?

I’m sure it would go over like a lead balloon, even though that is the choice they are making.

So. I choose life. I’ll add that to my stock of possible responses to questions that might never get asked.

And in the meantime, it was the best possible start to a lackluster work day. An hour plus on the bike followed by the rescue of a loud cricket.

Gold Butte’s burros need your voice

I received an action alert today from the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign:

Gold Butte’s burros need your voice. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has proposed a new Herd Management Area (HMA) Plan for Gold Butte’s burros in Nevada, effective for the next 10-20 years. The Gold Butte HMA is the last of three HMAs in the Lake Mead Conservation Area BLM has not yet zeroed out: the area used to be the third largest concentration of wild burros in the West with an estimated population of 800, with 600 in Gold Butte alone. The plan authorizes round-ups every 4-5 years with a population target of just 22 burros. When the herd grows to 49, BLM intends to remove them again, even though the established appropriate management level allows up to 98 burros throughout the 271,000 acres of the HMA. BLM is only offering two options: the new plan or ‘No Action.’ Please support the No Action Alternative until an option is presented for responsible management of viable herds. This should at least include:

1. Allowing the burro herd to reach its high AML range of 98 before any round-up can take place, not 49 as the current plan is written.
2. Providing for maintenance of existing water developments and requiring water be provided if any new springs are fenced off.
3. Allowing the burros’ forage measurements to still extend 10 miles around water. The new plan only allows 1-3 miles to be used, a very short distance for burros!
4. Establishing a rangeland recovery plan for those portions of the HMA that were burned by wildfires. Currently, BLM has no plan in place to help the burros survive for the next 20 years.
5. Not continuing to allow the National Park Service to remove or dispose of this last remaining burro herd. Any removals should be done by BLM through normal procedures.

Comments must be postmarked by September 19, 2008:
BLM Las Vegas Field Office, 4701 North Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89130
Phone: (702) 515-5000, Fax: (702) 515-5023
Patrick Putnam/Assistant Field Manager pputnam@nv.blm.gov or
Jerrie Bertola, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist Jerrie_Bertola@nv.blm.gov
Be sure to include EA # NV052-2008-435, Gold Butte HMAP in your subject line.

This is an issue I know only a small bit about. I learned of it only because of my writing and researching about the Kofa Mountain Lions.

It is an issue that frustrates me because it highlights the vast number of ways that animals are being exploited and exterminated. Why can’t we just let these animals live?

As if it isn’t enough that 10 billion land animals are killed each year for the food people put on their plates, wild animals on public land are being exterminated because they are taking up land that the hunters and ranchers prefer to use for themselves.

If you can, take a second to email the BLM and support the “No Action” option.

perry’s dustbath

Perry is one of the five White Leghorns who arrived last year at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary when they were just a few days old, having been found abandoned in a grocery store parking lot. Yesterday Perry was busy giving himself a dustbath in the bunny barn.

He dug himself a little Perry-sized indentation and got to work.

I’ve seen dustbathing before, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a chicken practically turn over on his back as he did so! He reminded me, strongly, of my cat, and how she acts sometimes, especially after some catnip.

It is bittersweet to watch him, knowing that such a simple act is denied the millions of chickens trapped in the farmers’ clutches. It is especially sad having heard the stories of newly rescued chickens and turkeys, and that their very first action in their freedom is to take a dustbath. Once they’ve gotten over the shock of being able to do anything at all, of course.

workplace advocacy, aka the dreaded team lunch

Periodically I get an invite to a team lunch at work. Since the closest they come to being inclusive is to say “hey, there’s a veggie platter” (and then only at the really big company-wide holiday luncheons), I came up with an efficient system for handling these invites. A couple weeks ago, another invite came in, and after glancing briefly at it, I hit the delete key, just like normal.

A few days later, the woman who had the misfortune to be put in charge of organizing this lunch stopped by to ask if I’d looked at the menu for the four restaurants the invite had asked us to vote on. I hadn’t, of course. She asked me if there was anything I could get to eat at any of the restaurants. She asked because she knew I was vegetarian. (Vegan is a new word for her, I think, so she went with the more familiar “vegetarian”.)

A lot of my coworkers know I’m vegan, and in my two years working there, this made the very first time anyone actually made any effort at all to be inclusive.

And so I looked at the menus, and on finding that there were two restaurants of the four that looked workable, I voted for the one that looked most promising. And naturally the one that was chosen by the majority (the majority of whom know I, a team member, am vegan) was a bbq place where I could not even order a side salad.

No big deal as far as I was concerned. I wrote to the lunch organizer and I told her that I was going to back out of the lunch, and I explained why, in a nice way. (That took a few revisions, as the inner snark came out strongly in my first couple attempts.) And then I thanked her for trying to accommodate me, and I told her that she was the one and only person who had thought about me at all.

She responded that she was determined that we’d find a way to get me some food for the luncheon, and a couple days later she came through with a great solution. She had to go to a grocery store to get drinks anyway, and she asked if I’d want to go with her, since that grocery store has a great salad bar. I agreed, since I love salad, and since I felt it was as important at that point that she succeed in helping me, as it was for me to join in a team lunch.

The lunch was today. The salad bar really was a great one. And the conversation we had along the way was interesting. She’d been vegetarian for a few years a while back. And then 9/11 happened, and she decided that she was going to do what she wanted, and so she started eating meat again.

That threw me. I can honestly say that’s a new one for me. I had no response to that, and so I focused on the main point that she was trying to make – that she had been vegetarian for a while, and so she knew to ask me if the restaurants in question could accommodate me.

She was pretty amazed that no one else had ever made an effort to be inclusive.

The end result is that this is a luncheon that is going to happen about once a month, and it looks like she’ll be the one organizing it each time. She’s going to make sure that the restaurants chosen in the future are ones that I can get something at.

Does this accomplish anything other than allowing me the dubious pleasure of joining in the team lunches? I’m not sure. In terms of social aspects at work, it probably does help me, as I’m quite sure I was seen as a non-joiner or anti-social, both of which are actually true to some degree. But neither were reasons that I wasn’t joining in the lunches, and maybe that was made a little clear to a few of the more perceptive of my team members.

I don’t talk about the ethics behind my veganism at work, as a general rule. I’ve had one person, just last month, ask me directly, and so I answered. It is not the sort of work environment that is open to people talking about anything more in-depth than football, Tiger Wood’s knee surgery, or animal planet.

Lately though I’ve been thinking hard about the impact we have by example. It’s one piece of the whole, but in situations where we see people every day, it might be one of the more important pieces. Different than the advocacy we do when we’re leafleting or performing other sort of fly-by educational tasks.

They say actions speak louder than words. Sometimes that is true.

against vivisection: ethics and science

pattrice is hosting a Carnival Against Vivisection, and it is an important topic, as well as one that I don’t talk enough about, and so I’m joining in. Her deadline is September 6th, by the way, if anyone else would like to take part as well.

Vivisection sounds like such a clinical word, doesn’t it? I had never heard the word until I got into animal rights, I think. Yet I have vivid decades-old memories of my first exposure to the idea, if not the word, and that exposure hit me in a very personal way.

I don’t know exactly how old I was. Young, perhaps in middle school. I can’t remember the teacher or the class or why we were being shown this information, but I will never forget the picture of the bunnies being tortured by having absolutely horrible things put in their eyes. For cosmetics.

The ethics of the situation was painfully clear to me at the time, in that pure way that children see the world. There was simply no justification, no possible way that anyone could convince me that there was anything right about what I had seen. If it is required to do such damage to bunnies to make sure make-up was safe for humans to use, then humans should refuse to wear it. That was it for me, the situation was clear.

These thoughts were only in the back of my mind, however, as I reached junior high and started wearing some of that dreaded make-up myself. In that weird mix of self-conscious selfishness, I just didn’t let myself think about it.

In 7th grade I had to watch a film in class. Again, I’m perplexed thinking back, and can’t come up with a reason we would have been required to watch this film in school, but watch it we did. It was devastating.

Project X. Did you see it?

The screenplay’s premise has a fictional air force soldier named Jimmy (played by Matthew Broderick) who, as punishment for “misconduct” involving a romantic interlude in an aircraft cockpit, assigned to a top-secret military project wherein chimpanzees are trained on virtual reality flight simulators, and experiences a crisis of conscience as to the project goals.

Chimpanzees being used in testing for the military, their personalities shining through, and in the end they were treated as if they were completely disposable. We won’t even get into the irony about these chimps being used by the film-makers, and the ethical issues around it. That didn’t occur to me at the time.

All I knew is that what had been done to these animals was wrong. And it didn’t matter that it was just a movie. I knew that these things were happening. Perhaps seeing the devastation to the bunnies had prepared me for this immediate acceptance that things like the project x testing were happening.

In my first exposure to the faces behind vivisection, it was clear that the bunnies were being sacrificed only for the vanity of humans. Well, and also for the profits of the companies, but I was maybe 12. I didn’t think that way then. I find it incomprehensible that vivisection still goes on today for cosmetic products, something that is entirely unnecessary on several levels. First of all, hello! Cosmetics. These are not exactly necessary for anyone’s survival. And second of all, there are many options out there for cosmetics that have not been tested on animals, and these options are continuously growing. There is no excuse.

Cosmetics seem like a slam dunk to me, in terms of my expectation that there should be universal condemnation of animal testing on cosmetics.

That’s my naivete showing. Those same companies are still testing, and those same companies are still in business because women and men keep buying their bloody products.

The second example, with the chimps, could have been murkier. The testing being performed on them was supposed to help keep air force pilots alive in extreme conditions. These extreme conditions were situations the pilots might be subjected to if, say, a nuclear war started, and they were trying to protect the ever important country of America. (yes, that is sarcasm.) (and yes, the movie dealt in cold war themes, it was from the 80’s!)

It was not murky to me at the time, perhaps because I was facing these wonderful individuals, who were forced to live in an underground prison. They’d done nothing wrong, they simply wanted to live, and one can safely assume they actually wanted to live somewhere outside and green, yet they were seen as things, to be sacrificed. The air force pilots, on the other hand, were accepting their own risks. Their decision, which meant that even if they had to pay “the ultimate price”, it was their choice that put them in the situation to begin with. Not so for the chimps. And so it was not murky to me.

Funny, because if Hoot is considered soft-core eco-terrorism in today’s political climate, I think it is obvious that Project X would not stand a chance if it was not already made.

I can’t say that watching Project X caused immediate changes in my life, but clearly it has had a multi-decade impact on me, and perhaps laid a piece of the framework of my current animal rights viewpoint.

And who would have thought a Matthew Broderick/Helen Hunt film could do that?

The point I’m trying to get to, in this long drawn out way, is not just that *some* vivisection is completely unnecessary. That’s only the tip of the iceburg. Once you realize that some vivisection is unnecessary, and that the general public has been fed enough bullshit over the years that we placidly accept that these horrors are done for our good, without ever questioning the need for the product itself…once you realize that, it only makes sense to take a closer look at what other lies we’ve been fed.

And that’s where we get to the big one. That animal testing on drugs is necessary for the safety of humans.

I accepted that, without question, even after I began cutting out any product from my life that had animal testing performed on it. I believed, wholeheartedly, that animal testing was absolutely wrong, and yet I still believed that to stop testing these drugs on animals would increase the risk to the humans who wanted to take them. I just figured that was a risk we should take on. And ethically I still think that we should take on our own risks. The problem with the big lie to begin with is that it doesn’t even come close to being scientifically sound.

And I have a biology degree. It is embarrassing, really, that I never stopped to think.

I should have known better, and I would have if I’d thought about it for a second. Drugs, and disease, are scary things, and we like to think that there is some way to make it all safer. We don’t want to question the drug companies or the FDA, we don’t want to learn that all these animal tests are doing nothing to make us safer after all.

There is a safer way, actually, but it is one that alarms people. The way to do drug testing in a way to more safely determine its impact on humans is … to test the drugs on humans. Sounds radical, doesn’t it?

The truth is that this is what happens already, after millions of animals have been pointlessly sacrificed. Pointlessly? Yes, pointlessly. Knowing how a bunny reacts to a drug or a cosmetic tells us with a reasonable certainty how a bunny will react to that drug or cosmetic. Not an absolute certainty because no two individuals of any species actually react exactly the same. So. We know how one bunny reacts, and we might be able to predict how a different bunny would react. But how do we use that information and apply it to humans?

With a complete disregard of both science and ethics, that’s how. Flipping a coin would actually be more accurate, based on the numbers I’ve seen. If you want rather exhaustive information detailing exactly how animal testing has not only not helped further human medical science knowledge, but has also held back the advance of such knowledge, you’d do best to read the Drs. Greek, “Specious Science” and “Sacred Cows, Golden Geese.” They have a newer book (2006) that I have not yet read, but which I plan to pick up, as it looks like another excellent resource, What Will We Do If We Don’t Experiment on Animals?

So after all these animals have been needlessly killed in the desperate pursuit of CYA material in the blind guess of how humans will react to given drugs or chemicals, human trials begin. These human trials are the final stage before the drugs are marketed, and these are people who have volunteered to be part of these trials. The studies are somewhat informative, but because they’re the last stage, they’re often rushed. The drug companies have, at that point, spent so much money on the drugs that they really aren’t prepared to let anything stop the drugs from being put on the market.

They pressure the FDA if the human trials don’t go well. And they continue to exert the pressure on the FDA after the drugs are on the mass market and people start dying from their drugs. These drug companies, showing more of their true colors, continue to exert pressure to stop the FDA from removing the deadly drugs from the market.

What floors me about this process is that we have two very different groups of humans being tested on. The “human trials”, people who have volunteered to take part in the experiment, and then the vast unsuspecting “free market” of people who believe naively that the FDA is not controlled by the drug companies. These are people who choose to take the drugs, but who don’t take them with the knowledge that they are part of a bigger experiment, a large scale drug trial.

That is frightening, at least to me. There is quite a bit of history of vivisection being done on humans, as well. I think we tend to forget that. The concentration camps in Nazi Germany are, perhaps, the most widely known. Perhaps to soothe ourselves we assume that these involuntary experiments will be done on us only if we are living in a repressive regime that cares less for it’s citizens than it does for it’s power, and the wealth of the elite.

Vivisection is difficult to talk about in short bits. There are painfully obvious ethical reasons why it is not right. However, few people know what to say when they are then faced with statements that they themselves might think are still true, such as that the animals killed are helping save human lives. It is false. Read the Drs. Greek for yourself. They spent a decade researching this exhaustively, after coming from the same blind belief that we all did.

But none of us benefit from the animals being killed. Unless you are employed by a vivisector or drug company, of course. These animals are being killed needlessly, pointlessly. Their deaths do not further human medicine, the pursuit of animal death sets back research on human medicine.

And facing the lie, finally seeing that there was no point to the millions (or maybe billions – there are no official numbers, so no one really knows) of deaths of animals each year in experimentation, that shook me to my core. It brings back the picture of the bunnies, my horror at what was happening to those chimps in Project X

If we don’t need to do these things, why are these things being done?