Once we establish the fact that no one in the western world, no one who can read this text, at least, is eating animal products in order to survive and that the supermarket and the grocery store are standing proofs that we are gatherers, not hunters, the burning issue of animal exploitation for the benefit of scientific and medical research becomes a harsh river to cross, essentially due to the disturbing fact that most people will find animal abuse in research labs specifically a vital and an unavoidable stage in the progress of scientific research.
Arguing in favor of the liberation of animals inside labs, one has to stand against questions much more serious and unforgiving than questions about the mass slaughter of animals in order to produce hamburgers and cheesecakes. We get mad when animal abuse and slaughter are thrown into our dinner plate, but when it’s being done in a place where other people are trying to find cures for our illnesses and to save our lives, some of us might get very upset, even angry.
But we must ask one important question – are these upset people right? The truth is that over the years as an animal liberation activist, I have never ever come across one argument that explains why animals are necessary for medical experiments. Not one.
This statement requires an explanation: over the years I have learned about cures and vaccines that were found beneficial when tested on animals, and deadly when taken by humans. On the other hand, animal experiments defenders can tell you about some progress or even available cures that were found after a long progress that had experiments on animals in at least one of its steps. My point is that when considering the question in hand, are animals crucially essential for lab experiments, none of this is relevant in any way.
How is that possible? The question we are asking is “are animals necessary for medical research?”, and the answer will always be “No”, since even a successful medical research that had involved animal vivisection did not require it as an exclusive condition. Since we could use, for the sake of argument, human beings for the same experiments and get the same, if not better results, we can agree that animals are not an exclusively essential element to medical progress. Instead they are merely easy objects, exploited for the kind of progress we have decided to make.
The next stage in understanding the concept of animal experimentation legitimacy is inevitable. The question, oh so unfair and rhetoric, arises almost immediately once you criticize experiments on animals – “If it was you who were terminally ill, would you say No to experimentation on animals, even if it could save your life?”
Thinking about this situation, I might vote for experiments on animals to go on full power in order to save my precious life, once it is in imminent danger. But does it mean anything? What will happen if I demand to speed things up, should I witness my condition deteriorating, and declare I prefer experiments on humans as well, as surely they can yield better and faster results? Will my decision to approve experiments on humans, once it is me whose life is in danger, serve as a good enough reason to begin experimenting on orphans, prisoners, poor people, or refugees? The answer is no, of course, so why should my personal crisis serve as any sort of validation for tormenting animals on the vivisection table?
The simple answer, cutting through dense layers of arguments and excuses in favor of animal exploitation, is this – We live in a culture that dictates no need for any explanation to our animal slaves, while educating us about the freedom of mankind, the only being whose life we consider worthwhile. This is the one and only reason we experiment on animals, and there is no other; but is it a just and honorable one? Far from it, I think. The fact that we decided it’s legitimate to hurt animals in order to save ourselves does not make it a just decision, only a self-centered, even cruel one.
I cannot and I will not criticize people who are actually ill, hoping for a cure at whatever cost necessary, but it is the industry that have had to change a long time ago.
The question about lab animals and my own personal health unintentionally points on another disgrace concerning our costumes of animal abuse. Many serious diseases actually emerged either from animal products or from the way we treat animals. Ebola is mainly the product of consuming fruit bats in Africa, Swine flu and Avian flu are the results of horrendous concentrations of these poor animals in our factory farms. Mad cow disease emerged when we turned normally herbivore cows into cannibals by making them eat other dead cows in order to reduce costs. Heart disease and other illnesses, including cancer, can occur due to an improper diet based on animal products.
Why then don’t we ask a different question? A question about the wretched methods in which we try to fix problems caused by the horrible ways we treat animals, by an even worse torments of other animals in labs? Why don’t we stop abusing animals completely and save the animals from the moments when we will slay more of these poor beings on the lab table “because there is no other option”?
The answer is – Because we don’t believe we owe them any explanation, and because we believe we can do whatever we want with them as they are our slaves.
This is the only reason.
Philosopher and human/animal liberation activist, Dr. Steven Best, describes slavery in a very efficient manner: A slave knows when he’s locked and when he’s free. A slave wants to be free. A slave knows the difference between pleasure and pain. A slave has an owner. The owner of a slave has legal rights over the slave. A slave owner can legally kill his slave. Freedom is taken from the slave.
Animals are our slaves. Now we need to evaluate our slave owning policy and realize that it’s 2014 already. We have the knowledge and we have the tools to liberate animals, let them be and work, work hard, until we perfect other alternatives we have for this horrendous procedure of experimenting on these animals.
In the meanwhile, the least we can do is to be just and honest when we try to protect such acts of exploitation.