Massachusetts Governor Vetoes Anti-Dissection Bill

The New England Anti-Vivisection Society reports that Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney vetoed a dissection choice bill over the weekend.

The bill would have required all Massachusetts public schools that include dissection as part of a class activity to offer non-animal alternatives for those who object to dissection.

NEAVS quotes Romney as saying in his veto message,

. . . biomedical research is an important component of the CommonwealthÂ’s economy and job creation. This bill would send the unintended message that animal research is frowned upon

NEAVS’ Theodora Capaldo replied in a press release that,

Governor Romney didn’t even attempt to hide his fiscal
priorities using the typical rhetoric that his decision was for the health and well being
of the people. Rather, he told it like it is: itÂ’s all about money, period.

. . .

In allaying the irrational fears of the biotech
industry, the governor may have shot himself in the foot with a large contingent of voters
who care more about studentsÂ’ rights to be compassionate than a wealthy companyÂ’s
profit margin.

The full text of the proposed law can be read here.


Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney — Busy Signing Books While Refusing to Sign Laws. Press Release, New England Anti-Vivisection Society, August 3, 2004.

Tufts vs. NEAVS and Boston Herald on Dog Experiments

Earlier this year, I noted the controversy created by animal rights activists and groups over canine bone research at Tufts University that involved killing five dogs in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the surgical procedure being tested.

Tuft’s Dr. Robert Bridges was unhappy at a story on the controversy that appeared on January 3rd in the Boston Herald and fired off the following letter that the Herald published on January 22,

The Herald’s portrait of Tufts Veterinary School’s canine research project was unbalanced and unjustified, causing undeserved harm to an institution with a history of caring animals (“Dogs now gone: Tufts destroys five research canines,” Jan. 3).

The four non-veterinary students who first went to the press did so with the urging of a local anti-vivisection chapter and did not represent the veterinary students. Inspections following the lodged complaint of cruelty were determined to be without merit by multiple regulatory agencies, including the US Department of Agriculture, the Animal Rescue League of Boston, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Moreover, the experimental protocol had received critical and careful review by Tuft’s internal animal care committee prior to being approved.

The Herald did not engage in responsible journalism. The result: damage to a compassionate institution.

Frankly, it’s difficult to know what Bridges was so upset about, as the article appeared fairly balanced to this reader. It didn’t mention all of the above, but it quoted Tufts officials on the need for such research as well as outlined some of the layers of oversight that oversee animal research in at institutions such as Tufts.

New England Anti Vivisection Society president Theodora Capaldo wrote a letter in response saying, in part,

We must be precise: it is what Tufts allowed to be done to those dogs that did “damage to a compassionate institution” not the students, not NEAVS and not the Herald. Once Tufts accepts responsibility with policy that prevents this kind of experiment from ever happening again, its esteem will be restored.

Well, to keep with Capaldo’s desire to be precise, she and NEAVS claimed that the research at Tufts was unreasonable and unjustifiable and that Tufts’ Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee was derelict in approving the experimental protocol. But as Bridges noted in his letter, that was nonsense and several external organizations that examined the protocol agreed with the IACUC that the experimental protocol was appropriate.


Letter to the editor. Theodora Capaldo, New England Anti Vivisection Society, February 2004.

Rap on Tufts Unfair. Robert Bridges, Boston Herald, January 22, 2004.

Dogs gone now; Tufts destroy five research canines. Elisabeth J. Beardsley, The Boston Herald, January 3, 2004.

Animal Rights Activist Attack Peter Singer Over Bestiality Stance

Peter Singer still has not made any comments about his book review for Nerve which, on the most friendly interpretation, offered a weak argument against bestiality. While People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ Ingrid Newkirk offered a defense of Singer, many animal rights activists were quick to pile on denunciations of Singer, many of which were posted to the Nerve web site as well as being distributed through Internet e-mail lists.

Friends of Animals president Priscillia Feral wrote,

Friends of Animals, an interntional non-profit organization with 200,000 members throughout the world dedicated to promoting the rights of animals and concern for wildlife and the environment, denounces Princeton philosophy professor Peter Singer, for an essay in which Singer maintains that under some circumstances, it is acceptable for humans and animals to have sex with each other. FoA finds Singer’s position shocking and disgusting. Bestiality is wrong in part because the animal cannot meaningfully consent to sex with a human. In this sense, bestiality is wrong for the same reason pedophilia is wrong. Children cannot consent to sexual contact and neither can animals. Contrary to a statement from a spokesperson for PETA, Singer’s essay isn’t an intellectual issue, and his thinking isn’t logical. It’s a moral issue. Singer and his apologists just need to stop repeating every annoying idea they’ve developed for shock value.

Megan Metzellar, program coordinator for Friends of Animals weighed in as well,

Singer is basically condoning rape and molestation as long as one (presumably he?) can find a way to interpret the situation as being “mutually satisfying.” I suppose Mr. Singer can find a way to justify any base behavior in his mind via his meaningless hypotheticals. Singer has been put on a pedestal by the animal rights movement for a very long time but this essay is a wake-up call to those who have blindly idolized him. Moreover, since women are often sexually abused and exploited in conjunction with acts of bestiality, feminists should be outraged by his position on this issue. Child advocates should also be alarmed since Singer is condoning sex acts in which one party is basically incapable of giving consent. Singer is in dangerous territory here and if he has any sense left he will realize the potential fallout from this essay and retract his position.

Theodora Capaldo, president of the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, was worried about the damage that Singer’s views will have on the animal rights movement.

As someone who has played and continues to play a high profile and influential role in the animal rights movement, I believe your responsibility changes. The success of animal liberation depends not only on the ideology, the legal arguments, and the philosophical reasoning but perhaps more importantly on the sophisticated strategies that will allow mainstream populations to hear the message, accept the message and act on the message. Heavy Petting will come back to haunt us and is a step backwards. Unchallenged, this essay will serve to further marginalize and, therefore, damage the animal rights movement. The consequences of it will push us back into the bubble-gum bottomed recess of prejudice that hell hole of ridicule that remains our greatest obstacle and enemy. Some people may care about your thoughts on bestiality from some perverse unconscious desires. More significantly, however, many others will study your every word not to better ground their arguments in support of animal rights but rather to find new ways to discredit our efforts. They have been given new ammunition and new accusations with which to boost their arguments about the absurdity of our beliefs. Heavy Petting will be used against us. Have no doubt.

Live by the sound bite, die by the sound bite.

Gary Francione, who seems to have laid low after shutting down his animal law center, reminded animal rights activists that Singer’s argument is beside the point since the existence of pets is an abomination itself, regardless of whether or not anyone is having sex with the animals.

Even if animals can desire to have sexual contact with humans, that does not mean that they are “consenting” to that contact any more than does a child who can have sexual desires (or who even initiates sexual contact) can be said to consent to sex. Moreover, Peter ignores completely that bestiality is a phenomenon that occurs largely within the unnatural relationship of domestication; a domestic animal can no more consent to sex than could a human slave. Therefore, since the threshold requirement–informed consent–cannot be met, sexual contact with animals cannot be morally justified….It is bad enough that Peter defends the killing or other exploitation of those humans whose lives he regards as not worth living, and, through his pop media image, he has succeeded in connecting the issue of animal rights with the very ideas that were promoted by some academics as part of the theoretical basis for Nazism. It is bad enough that the “father of the animal rights movement” regards PETA’s sell-out liaison with McDonalds as “the biggest step forward for farm animals in America in the past quarter of a century” (a direct quote from Peter) and that PETAphiles are pointing to Peter’s approval as justification for the sell-out. It is bad enough that Peter continues to support and promote those whose unethical actions have actually harmed animals. Bestiality merits nothing more or less than our outright and unequivocal condemnation. Peter’s disturbing view that humans and nonhumans may enjoy sexual contact as part of “mutually satisfying activities” will only further harm the cause of animal rights, and I can only hope that those who care will register their strong dissent.

Aside from the animal rights movement, it will be interesting to see how the Princeton community reacts to Singer’s newly found views on sex with animals.