Brigitte Bardot Fined for Racist Remarks

Prominent animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot was recently fined 30,000 francs by a French court for comments she made in a recent book, “Pluto’s Square.” In the book, Bardot complains about the large number of Muslim immigrants in France and especially the ritual slaughter of sheep during a Muslim religious festival.

In the book, Bardot complains that “…my country, France, my homeland, my land is again invaded by an overpopulation of foreigners, especially Muslims.”

France, like many European countries, has laws against inciting racial hatred, and this is the third time that Bardot has been convicted of such an offense.

On the one hand, such laws are in and of themselves barbaric, and have done little to stem the tide of racial hatred in Europe. Even idiot xenophobes such as Bardot should have the right to speak freely without facing the sanction of the state.

On the other hand, Bardot’s latest episode demonstrates just what a dogmatic, intolerant group animal rights activists can be. Apparently Bardot can muster overwhelming empathy for sheep but can only think of Muslim immigrants in euphemistic terms such as “invaders.”

The reader might think that animal rights groups and individuals would want to put as much distance between themselves and Bardot as possible, but despite her repeated racist remarks there has been no flurry of press releases from animal rights group and prominent activists denouncing Bardot (this from activists who fire off press releases at the drop of a hat).

Apparently the drawing power of a bigoted has-been sex symbol is just too much to resist.

Source:

Bardot fined for racist remarks. BBC News, June 16, 2000.

Further Vindication for Edward Taub

    It isn’t much of an exaggeration to trace the beginning of an effective animal rights movement in the United States to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ investigation of Edward Taub in 1981 which made national headlines for the fledgling group.

    Taub was a researcher at the Institute of Behavioral Research in Silver Springs, Maryland, in 1981 doing experiments with monkeys designed to better understand the mechanism of paralysis. Taub hired a young lab assistant named Alex Pacheco. Pacheco, of course, was a PETA plant. Pacheco waited until Taub was away from his lab for an extended period to call in authorities to raid the lab.

    Taub’s supporters argued that Pacheco intentionally neglected the animals to make Taub look bad during his absence, while photographs that PETA took of the monkeys in restraining apparatuses are probably the most widely circulated animal rights photographs ever taken.

    At his first trial on animal cruelty charges, Taub was convicted on six chages, but an appeal brought a new trial which resulted in an acquittal on all but one of the charges. That sole conviction, too, was later overturned on appeal.

    Putting aside the debate over how well Taub took care of his monkeys, according to PETA the sort of research Taub was doing is useless. The only reason anyone would ever do those sort of experiments on monkeys would be to keep overpaid research scientists in business if you believe PETA’s cant.

    Last week, however, it was announced that Taub’s research at Silver Springs combined with subsequent research on primates has led to the development of a new treatemtn for people affected by stroke-induced paralysis, which afflicts an estimated 4 million people. The whole point of Taub’s original research was to discover if monkeys suffering from nerve damage could re-learn how to use their limbs. Taub’s research demonstrated that, in fact, they could be re-trained to use their limbs and the result of that research is now finding its way into treatment of human beings — albeit delayed for years thanks to PETA’s actions.

    As Taub himself put it in a 1990 letter,

The actions of the antivivisectionists have resulted in withholding the potential benefits of this treatment to a large number of humans whose quality of life has been greatly compromised by their stroke.

    If PETA and the animal rights movement had its way, these new techniques wouldn’t just be delayed; they’d never see the light of day at all.

Source:

Monkeys First. Debra J. Saunders. The San Francisco Chronicle, June 25, 2000.

Edward Taub’s web site: http://www.uab.edu/neurotp/textonly/taub.html

PETA: Green Bay Packers Need to Change Name

    Football’s Green Bay Packers are in the middle of obtaining new financing for renovating and expanding Lambeau Field where they play, and one the possibilities that has come up is selling the right to name the renovated field.

    People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals weighed in recently suggesting the team needs to drop the Packers moniker as well since it promotes violence against animals. The name is a reference to meat packers and was adopted as the team name in 1919.

    According to PETA activist Bruce Friedrich, the team could be renamed the “Pickers” to allude to picking fruit and crops. Forgetting the controversy PETA got involved in over its “Drink Beer” campaign, they also suggest renaming the team the Green Bay “Six-Packers” in reference to Wisconsin’s brewing industry.

    Since PETA solicits millions in donations and spends almost all of it on stupid publicity stunts rather than anything to improve animal welfare, why doesn’t Ingrid Newkirk offer the Packers a few million dollars to change the name? That wouldn’t be any bigger waste of money than other ridiculous things PETA gets involved with.

Source:

Packers Will Stick With Name. The Associated Press, June 26, 2000.

The EPA vs. Animal Welfare

    The Environmental Protection Agency’s radical environmental agenda is ironically pushing into to a position that is both contrary to science and to the animal welfare position.

    The animal welfare positions holds that while animal experiments have played a crucial role in our increasing medical knowledge, wherever possible researchers should reduce the number of animals they use or replace them altogether with alternatives, provided reducing or replacing animals provides data as robust and accurate as traditional methods.

    In a bizarre twist, the EPA is currently arguing, however, that safety data produced from human clinical trials should be reject in favor of safety data derived from animals. Why? Because the human safety data doesn’t appear to give EPA the environmentally correct answers it wants.

    The first volley in this fight is the insecticide chlorpyrifos, sold over the counter as Dursban. Dursban is a highly effective insecticide that appears to be very safe. Dursban’s manufacturer conducted safety trials of the insecticide where human volunteers were paid to ingest the chemical and then from that data a safe threshold was set.

    As Steve Milloy writes in an article on the controversy,

There is much less uncertainty if human testing is involved,so acceptable exposure levels are usually set 19 times lower than the “no effect” dose. Because human testing involves a lower safety factor, it often leads to a higher permitted exposure levels. But pesticide opponents want lower permitted exposure levels — preferably so low that pesticide use is not practical.

    In other words, when manufacturers test a chemical in human beings, it often turns out to be safer than animal data would otherwise suggest. But the EPA gets funding and publicity for banning unsafe compounds, and so it has taken the only recourse left to it — attacking human testing.

    Essentially the EPA claims it is unethical to use even consenting human subjects to test the safety of an insecticide and in Dursban’s case says that none of the human testing data can be used to measure it safety. So what’s left? A study of pregnant rats who were fed large doses of Dursban, resulting in maternal sickness which in turn led to damage of the fetuses.

    So even though the human safety data indicates Dursban is perfectly safe at concentrations it is sold in, the EPA recently banned the insecticide except when used at a level 1,000 times lower than the human safety data indicate is necessary — effectively making it impossible to use for controlling insects in the home.

    This is a ridiculous position that undermines the elementary principles of medical research — extensive animal testing followed by clinical trials in human beings. As Jay Goodman, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University wrote to the EPA:

I view the testing in question as being similar to the clinical trials of potential new drugs and I do not see that it presents an ethical problem. A very large body of animal data provides a strong base to embark on human testing.

    The EPA claim that testing compounds on human beings is unethical even after extensive safety testing in nonhuman animals has been done is as wrongheaded as the animal rights view that testing should be done only in human beings. Animal and human tests each form part of the puzzle, and neither can completely replace the other.

Breakthrough in Treating MS in Mice

    Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative nervous system disorder where the protective sheath that surrounds nerves, called myelin, is damaged, interfering with the nerves’ abilities to send message back and forth along the nervous system. Regenerating the myelin sheath would seem to be the obvious way to treat MS and similar illnesses, but the problem is that cells in the nervous system are particularly resistant to regeneration.

    Thanks to animal experiments there has been a lot of progress made in recent years in understanding why cells in the nervous system don’t regenerate along with progress on spurring them to regenerate. In the latest advance, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, discovered antibodies which prod the immune systems of mice to repair the myelin sheath. The antibody attaches itself to nerve cells called oligodendrocytes which are responsible for the manufacture of myelin.

    Researchers infected mice with a virus that attacks the myelin sheath and causes symptoms in mice similar to MS in human beings. When the antibody was then injected into the mice, the damage to the myelin sheat was reversed.

    This does not mean, however, that a treatment for MS is right around the corner. This intriguing finding does, however, up open up many avenues for future research. In the real world of science, as opposed to the straw man posited by animal rights activists, important advances in understanding human physiology and disease first require years and decades of basic research aimed at understanding and explaining activities and functions that still mystify scientists. This is but one in a long series of experiments that bring us closer to the day when a viable cure for MS might be found.

Source:

Scientists reverse MS in mice. The BBC, June 5, 2000.

FDA’s Patronizes Women with RU486 Restrictions

A couple months ago, I wrote about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration dragging its feet in approving the abortion pill RU-486 (|FDA vs. Women’s Health, Again|.) When he was running for president and needed women’s votes, Bill Clinton promised swift approval of RU-486 if he were elected. Of course once in office, Clinton forgot about his promise and, if anything, the Clinton FDA approach to RU-486 was far worse than the Reagan administration approach (at least the Reagan administration was frank enough to admit its ideological opposition to RU-486).

Now word comes from on high that the FDA is finally ready to approve RU-486. Unfortunately it is going to attach a set of unprecedented conditions that may make illegally smuggling the drug into the U.S. more viable than getting the drug via prescription.

First, the FDA wants all physicians who prescribe RU-486 to be part of a national registry of abortion pill providers. What genius at FDA thought this would be a good idea? Is it possible they’ve been so busy finding excuses not to approve the drug that they’ve missed the wave of anti-abortion violence directed against clinics and doctors over the past 20 years? The creation of a national registry is an open invitation for violent anti-abortion extremists.

Second, the FDA wants to limit the doctors who can prescribe RU-486 to just those doctors who are also qualified to perform surgical abortions. In addition the doctors would be required to hold admitting privileges to a hospital within one hour’s drive of their office. According to the FDA, the justification for this rule is that if RU-486 should not cause an abortion, the woman’s physician will be able to perform a surgical abortion. This is downright bizarre. My wife has chronic back pain and went to her physician for a pain killing prescription. Under the FDA’s logic, however, only a physician qualified to do back surgery should be allowed to write prescriptions for back pain. Women are clearly resourceful enough in this day and age to find a physician to perform a surgical abortion if RU-486 fails.

Finally, the FDA unbelievably wants to create some sort of system to track women who take RU-486, which it says is necessary to track any possible side effects from the drug.

The reality is that, again, the FDA seems more likely to be interested in presidential politics, not wanting to inject the RU-486 issue as an issue in the upcoming election. This is a drug that has been used safely and successfully in Europe for decades now — the requirements to limit and track who can prescribe the pill are completely unwarranted, as is the tracking of patients, considering the drug’s track record in Europe. As Dr. Michael Creinin of the University of Pittsburgh told CNN, “The FDA is creating a whole new standard with these restrictions” (FDA approval of abortion pill linked to stringent conditions).

The FDA should stop its shameful delaying tactics and approve RU-486 with all possible haste. Leave it to the Clinton administration to play politics with women’s health and reproductive choices.