Richard Pryor Was No MS Hero

Richard Pryor died this month after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. MS is stilly poorly understood, but according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, it is believed to be an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack the myelin protecting nerve fibers.

Almost every piece written on Pryor’s death noted his long struggle with the disease. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society noted on its website, for example, that Pryor “will be remembered for his courage and dignity” in facing his disease.

But in discussing his years of suffering from MS, it should not be forgotten that Pryor also fought to extend the suffering of those with multiple sclerosis and supporter groups who engage in extremist tactics against medical researchers attempting to better understand MS.

Pryor repeatedly lent his name to People for the Ethical Treatment of the Animals’ anti-research campaigns, urging people not to donate to charities that fund animal research into MS.

That was bad enough, but in 2004 Pryor and his wife Jennifer Lee lent their public support to Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, an animal rights group that openly harasses and attempts to intimidate medical researchers. Moreover, Pryor and his wife only stepped forward to endorse SHAC after several key members of the group were indicted on federal charges including conspiracy to terrorize, interstate stalking and related charges.

Call me callous, but I don’t define “courage and dignity” to include supporting groups who openly try to terrorize and intimidate the very people trying to find treatments for this horrible disease.

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