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Legal shield for Calif. researchers?

University scientists in California who use animals in their research may get some legal protection from animal rights groups, which have linkurl:attacked;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54287/ and linkurl:harassed;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54379/ researchers there in recent months. On Thursday (Apr 17) the California Assembly Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, a bill sponsored by the University of California system that aims t

By | April 21, 2008

University scientists in California who use animals in their research may get some legal protection from animal rights groups, which have linkurl:attacked;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54287/ and linkurl:harassed;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54379/ researchers there in recent months. On Thursday (Apr 17) the California Assembly Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, a bill sponsored by the University of California system that aims to mete out stiffer penalties for what a UC linkurl:fact sheet;http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/animalresearch/ab2296factsheet.pdf labels "acts specifically related to animal enterprise terror." The bill now moves on to the California Assembly Appropriations Committee. "The committee's decision today to move this bill forward is an important step in addressing this issue," said UC Provost linkurl:Wyatt Hume;http://www.ucop.edu/acadaff/wrhbio.html in a linkurl:statement;http://pub.ucsf.edu/today/cache/feature/200804182.html posted Friday (Apr 18) on UC, San Francisco's Web site. "It represents a crucial acknowledgment by the Legislature of the importance of maintaining academic freedom and a university environment free of violence and intimidation." In addition to outlining new criminal penalties for linkurl:targeting animal researchers,;http://www.the-scientist.com/2008/4/1/40/1/ the bill gives California universities the right to bring civil lawsuits against harassers on behalf of their employees. The bill also gives universities the option to withhold information - like names and home addresses - that might be used to identify, locate, or target animal researchers. In a linkurl:document;http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bill/asm/ab_2251-2300/ab_2296_cfa_20080417_164407_asm_comm.html that accompanied their decision to pass the bill last week, the judiciary committee mentioned the need to protect academic freedoms but also raised the concern that the legislation might impinge on the freedom to legally protest against other enterprises, such as tobacco companies, defense suppliers, and gun manufacturers, in California. "While UC passionately and unequivocally supports the civil and free expression of views, including those that oppose the use of animals in research, the university will not tolerate acts of violence and harassment," Hume said in a statement. Hat tip to linkurl:__The Chronicle of Higher Education__.;http://chronicle.com/news/article/4340/california-seeks-controversial-legal-protections-for-animal-researchers
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Comments

Avatar of: Ellen Hunt

Ellen Hunt

Posts: 199

April 22, 2008

I think there are plenty of police powers already in place. UC can already file for (and I believe has filed for) restraining orders. That allows arrest on sight when certain people are in the wrong place. Those can and should be extended to the homes of professors, and the distance they must keep should be enlarged. But that's good enough. We don't need more law(s) we need more application of what we already have. \n\nUC already has its own police department, can run its own investigations with detectives - and yet - UC doesn't do that very much with these people. Now why is that? Flatly - it is because of the UC regents. UC is a dysfunctional system (even some of the regents say so - one resigned last year over it) and they don't do what they should do. \n\nSince animal rights activists have infiltrated academia (which is supposed to be an open system) with zero problems, multiple times, in order to find out where people live, license plates, and make propaganda films, who are we kidding with this "feel-good" bill? It is NOT going to do anything but create yet another excuse for UC bureaucracy to hide behind. You can cite this bill as cause to hide anything! Bureaucrats love secrecy, and love methods of squeezing people. \n\nAll this kind of bill does is up the ante. It's like the drug war. The more draconian you get, the more aggressive and dangerous the opposition gets. And that justifies more draconian measures, and it all escalates. \n\nI find it extremely ironic that the same people who will rant against expanded police powers for the state under any other circumstances (i.e. war on terror, wiretaps, detentions, etcetera) will thoughtlessly flock to exactly the same rubbish when their own ox is being gored.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 26

April 22, 2008

Ellen is correct that current laws should be able to punish illegal acts against researchers. I think they should be properly enforced, just as immigration and border control laws should be enforced or changed. However, sometimes laws with increased specificity are useful to get people's attention and further deter a particular crime. For two examples, the penalties for rape are significantly higher than for punching someone and the penalty and enforcement for killing a police officer is higher than for killing a "regular" person.\n\nIt may be well worthwhile to send a clear message to anti-vivisectionists and anti-abortionists that they must protest through legal means or suffer severe consequences.\n\nBaxter Zappa

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