The Primate Freedom Tour is
rolling through the United States, spreading misinformation about medical
research involving primates and generating a fair amount of controversy
even within the animal rights movement.
The tour travels across the
United States stopping at primate research facilities long enough to protest
and grab a bit of media attention. In large measure, however, the tour
has backfired on its sponsors due to the tactics they have adopted.
Along with the typical animal
rights tactics — one protester locked himself in a cage for three days
outside of a Coulston facility — members of the Primate Freedom Tour
have protested outside the homes of researchers working at primate facilities
and released the home addresses of their targets in press releases. In
several cases police have come close to arresting primate tour members
and a University of California of Davis researcher was arrested recently
for allegedly assaulting protesters outside his home.
Such tactics have garnered
the tour a wave of negative publicity, helped out by press releases form
the tour itself that emphasize the group’s militant stand and tactics.
By July 1, Suzanne Roy and Eric Kleiman, program director and research
director respectively at In Defense of Animals, had enough and issued
a “Personal statement against certain tactics of Primate Freedom Tour”
attacking the militant tactics which, Roy and Kleiman correctly perceive,
only work against the animal rights movement.
As Roy and Kleiman write,
A number of years ago, the A[merican] M[edical] A[ssociation]
developed an action plan for neutralizing the animal rights movement.
Its strategy was to portray animal rights advocates as extremists and
terrorists … We believe the Tour is certainly making the jobs of A[mericans
for] M[edical] P[rogress] and other similar groups easier. Their attempts
to portray all animal advocates as extremist fanatics, engaged in a terroristic
‘jihad’ that must be constrained by the police … are certainly being facilitated
by the Tour’s organizers.
Roy and Kleiman are certainly
right about the ethics and media effect of home protests, but their own
statement itself belies the claim that animal rights activists are being
falsely painted as extremists and terrorists by the AMP and AMA. The fact
is that most animal rights activists and organizations are extremists
as evidenced by the fact that Roy and Kleiman had to release their comments
as a “personal statement” and make very explicit that their views don’t
reflect that of In Defense of Animals, which is one of the sponsors of
the Primate Freedom Tour. Since the Tour began, Roy and Kleiman are the
only two individuals to my knowledge to issue such a statement and no
animal rights organization has come out with any statement containing
anything but praise for the Primate Freedom Tour.
This silence is deafening
and yet Roy and Kleiman would have us believe that the extremists who
would protest at a researchers home represent a small minority of animal
rights activists and the rest of the movement is unfairly associated with
this tiny fringe of the movement. Please, give it a rest already. This
is as believable as the constant refrain that the Animal Liberation Front‘s
acts of destruction don’t represent the animal rights movement, even though
all but a handful of animal rights groups refuse to condemn such actions
and most express their sympathy with the terrorists.