This past Sunday was World Day for Animals in Laboratories, and no matter how many times I've written about this day or week (e.g., 2012, 2014) it doesn't get any easier. In prepping for this year's post, I had wanted to read and watch the following:
The books include We Animals by the terrific Jo-Anne McArthur, and the recently published They All Had Eyes by former vivisectionist Michael A. Slusher. The DVD is directed by the talented Karol Orzechowski and its title, Maximum Tolerated Dose, refers to "An animal/human experiment to find the highest dose of a chemical that, when administered to a group of test subjects in a clinical trial, does not result in a fatality due to short-term toxicity." (Definition taken from About Page in link above.)
And while I've had the DVD and We Animals for quite some time, I haven't been able to watch or read either one. Actually, I did crack open We Animals when I first received it, but unfortunately, the first image I saw was that of a lab cat whose head had literally been cut in half. Haven't been able to open it since. Even the cover image is as haunting as the illustration on the book behind it, and it's as if I dread the words and sights contained therein. These are important words and images for sure, and I intend to view them all at some point no matter how painful it may be, but not quite yet. Oh, haven't been able to read Mark Twain's A Dog's Tale yet either.
You can imagine though how horrific animal experimentation must be for the beings who actually have to endure the "white coated cruelty" and "socially sanctioned crimes" (credit for terms goes to veganelder -- see comment in 2012 post) that at the moment I can't bear witness to. For it's the never-ending assault on their dignity, well-being, emotional and physical health, never mind their very existence, and for what? Essentially, as in all other forms of animal use/abuse, for monetary gain. Because while the public may like to believe that animal research is necessary to improve human health, this claim is dubious at best.
As mentioned in the 2012 post, there's something about vivisection that I find particularly appalling, and in addition to the reasons outlined in that post, I'm going to try to figure out why. Why does this one form of animal use/abuse strike me as even more evil than the rest? Why can I not think about this form of use without getting images of Dr. Mengele in my head?
Because it's not as if all the other forms of use are less heinous or cruel. Using animals for entertainment is so pathetic and inane it'd be laughable if there weren't dire consequences for its victims. Animals turned into clothing might have made some sense in the Stone Age, but in this age there just isn't any need. And the most prolific use by turning other animals into food has the greatest impact in terms of cruelty suffered by other species.
So again, why my revulsion with experimentation? Is it because some of the other uses have roots in once being required for physical survival? That the history of transforming other beings into fur and food stretches so far back that it's more understandable even to this vegan's mind? Is it because I once participated directly myself? Is it because I can even muster up more understanding for workers who may get caught in the vicious cycle of torturing other beings for food because they don't have the financial means to say no to this kind of labour that the more privileged of us would not even consider doing? Even though I hate what they do?
Or is it that I resent the fact that intelligent, well-educated, and privilege-laden individuals turn the cruel nightmare of animal research into an even more twisted and perverted horror show by insisting that that this is morally right, and intrinsically necessary for human progress. I wonder if part of what I object to isn't the callous and calculating stance. Yes, footage of workers mistreating other animals is both awful and awful to watch, but at least there's emotion. You can almost even identify to a degree with workers feeling frustrated and exhausted with their low-paying jobs that pressure them to continually speed up their labour at management behest.
But it's the clinical detachment of scientists and technicians reducing living beings to inanimate parts and tools of research (in addition to the cruelty) that chills me to the bone. Watching individuals that I otherwise like and respect, such as Dr. Suzuki, casually utter terms like MTD (maximum tolerated dose) and TD50 (the dose that causes tumours in 50% of animals that would otherwise be tumour-free) as if they're mathematical abbreviations with no living beings attached, angers me.
As does the ability to do horrendous things to a cat, dog or rabbit at work, and yet go home and pet a member of the same species. It's the disconnect that baffles me. If you wouldn't subject the dog living in your home to vile and useless experiments, how can you march into work and do it there?
How can you stand to inflict suffering on an innocent being under the guise of science when the average layperson can easily answer silly questions such as: should pregnant women smoke? is maternal deprivation harmful? It's ludicrous beyond words. But, like every other form of animal use, profitable. Make no mistake, big bucks, egos and reputations are involved. Otherwise, smart-enough individuals would recognize the psychopathology inherent in psychiatry department heads insisting that duplicating maternal deprivation studies, for example, make sense.
Methinks there's something especially sinister and malevolent in assaulting other animals in the name of science. It's whitewashed terrorism, sanctioned and made out to be something noble even though it's anything but. So, even if the number of victims pale in comparison to those caught in the industrial food complex, please don't forget sacrificed beings in laboratories.