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Calif. bill to protect researchers

A bill that would criminalize some of the key methods used by animal rights protestors to target researchers cleared a California senate committee yesterday (Aug 14). Bill linkurl:AB 2296;http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bill/asm/ab_2251-2300/ab_2296_bill_20080811_amended_sen_v92.html makes it a misdemeanor to enter a researcher's home or publish their personal information or that of their immediate families to encourage violent crime against them. University of California administrators ye

By | August 15, 2008

A bill that would criminalize some of the key methods used by animal rights protestors to target researchers cleared a California senate committee yesterday (Aug 14). Bill linkurl:AB 2296;http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bill/asm/ab_2251-2300/ab_2296_bill_20080811_amended_sen_v92.html makes it a misdemeanor to enter a researcher's home or publish their personal information or that of their immediate families to encourage violent crime against them. University of California administrators yesterday urged passage of the bill in the State Senate's Public Safety Committee. According to linkurl:__The Chronicle of Higher Education__,;http://chronicle.com/daily/2008/08/4253n.htm M.R.C. Greenwood, a former University of California provost, told the committee that animal rights protesters were scaring the state's biomedical researchers and interfering with their work. In a written statement, Greenwood said that the bill was a "critically important first step towards giving law enforcement and the research community the legal tools necessary to help investigate offenders and combat the unlawful tactics of these terrorists." "We believe it is of critical importance that meritorious and humane research involving animals can take place without threat of violence to researchers and their families," wrote linkurl:Mark Yudof,;http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/17548 current president of the University of California, in an August 6 linkurl:letter;http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/animalresearch/yudofletter080608.pdf to the Public Safety Committee. "This legislation is an important step toward preventing increasingly threatening and destructive tactics employed by extreme animal rights activists, without jeopardizing legitimate and lawful expressions of free speech," Yudof added. Attention has been focused on the bill, an earlier version of which was unanimously approved by the State Assembly, due to recent linkurl:attacks;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54910/ on animal researchers at UC Santa Cruz. The current version of the bill addresses some free speech issues raised during discussions of previous versions. Earlier this month, the names, photos, and personal information of several UCSC researchers were linkurl:published;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54908/ in fliers left at a Santa Cruz coffee shop a few days before the home and car of two university scientists - one of whom was listed in the pamphlets - were firebombed. California has seen a recent spate of such linkurl:attacks;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54379/ on UC researchers in past months. In February, UCLA officials linkurl:sued;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54356/ animal rights groups and individuals associated with these groups to prevent them from harassing researchers at the school. The bill now moves on to California's Senate Judiciary Committee, which will consider it before passing it on to the full Senate. The State Assembly will then consider any Senate amendments to the bill and vote on its passage.
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Avatar of: Ellen Hunt

Ellen Hunt

Posts: 199

August 15, 2008

Funny how academics rail so about George Bush's war on terror trampling on constitutional liberties, and yet do exactly the same thing when their personal ox is being gored. \n\nMake no mistake, I am all for prosecuting people who commit crimes. But this legislation is a cynical measure calculated to show that UC is "doing something", and nothing more.\n\nNot only is it an affront to academic ideals of open society, but it is almost certain to result in a higher degree of threat to researchers. \n\nPeople involved in the ALF can simply collect and circulate such information privately. I am quite sure they already do. Pushing it more underground will make it more difficult to know who might be targeted; it will increase ALF's security. It will also further radicalize the group and bond them together like resistance cells in wartime. \n\nThe ALF is now a transnational movement that has developed institutional memory in the form of procedure manuals. This means that fundamentally they are not going to be defeated by law enforcement. Smart criminals instantly give up when the police appear. Amateurs and revolutionaries don't, and that can mean trouble, serious risk of creating martyrs for the cause. \n\nThe statement from Jerry Vlasak reveals the strategy of PETA/ALF[1]. Their victory over the neuroscientist Dr. Ringach[2] encouraged them to continue their campaign. ALF continuing is classical terrorism theory. They use these asymmetric warfare methods because they work. Groups abandon methods that don't work and continue those that do work. A single victory attained by some method results in maintenance of that method for long periods of time. The reason is similar to why people gamble. The reward is remembered. It takes significant, repeated losses to learn that it fails. \n \nIn my personal investigations into "The A.L.F." through reading their websites, their operations manual and from miscellaneous peripheral contacts, it is my belief that the core of A.L.F. is female, similarly to PETA. I am pretty sure that there is a great deal of overlap between people involved with PETA and ALF. While I don't have firm data on this, it is my best guess that most of the males involved mostly get into it because of females they are romantically involved with. This is a similar proposed mechanism to the way boyfriends (and in other circumstances girlfriends) convert to a religion in order to be involved with someone they are smitten with. \n \nAs is the case in countering any violent movement (communism is an extreme example) what really wins the war is the clash of ideologies which happens over time. The battle is for mind-share with the public at large and working out who is "right". There is currently little to no engagement of their ideology by researchers. I doubt most researchers even know what it is. However, the ALF has engaged researcher's ideology for a long time, and they have a pretty strong set of arguments and dynamite emotional appeals to support their position. This indicates to me that the University needs to engage their ideology in a sophisticated manner. That will need some sort of budget, thoughtfulness, and a view extending decades. \n\nCan scientists do better than George Bush? Probably not. But thinking better could save lives - our lives. You see, I work on animal experiments. \n\n1. "It's regrettable that certain scientists are willing to put their families at risk by choosing to do wasteful animal experiments" - Jerry Vlasak\n2. http://www.animalliberationfront.com/ALFront/Actions-USA/VivisectorDario.htm \n
Avatar of: Paul Browne

Paul Browne

Posts: 38

August 19, 2008

Ellen\n"A single victory attained by some method results in maintenance of that method for long periods of time. The reason is similar to why people gamble. The reward is remembered. It takes significant, repeated losses to learn that it fails."\n\nThis is a good point, if we in the scientific community want to defeat this kind of extremism we must demonstrate to the extremists that their tactics will not only carry significant risk for themselves but also be counter productive from a propaganda point of view.\n\nIn the UK new laws helped to reduce the number of attacks, but better intelligence gathering and coordination between police forces probably made a greater contribution.\n\nWhat also helped was that in 2006 scientists and students at Oxford, together with other members of the public, made a stand against AR extremism under the Pro-Test banner. This stand was welcomed enthusiastically by the UK media and prompted several prominent politicians, including the then prime minister, to make public statements of support for animal research.\n\nWhat the reaction to the Pro-Test marches demonstrated was that there was very little support out there for the AR extremists, and that their actions were hurting the cause the AR extremists were espousing.\n\nScientists in the USA need to learn from the experience in the UK, after all many of the tactics that US AR extremists use were developed in the UK.\n\nOrganizations such as Speaking of Research http://www.speakingofresearch.org/ can help you to help your colleagues.
Avatar of: Ellen Hunt

Ellen Hunt

Posts: 199

August 19, 2008

Paul\n"What also helped was that in 2006 scientists and students at Oxford, together with other members of the public, made a stand against AR extremism under the Pro-Test banner." \n\nMao wrote that power grows from the barrel of a gun. But his ideology has lost. In any insurgency, the war is won or lost in the ideological confrontation. The pen is mightier than the sword, and the judgment of the masses deals even tyrants a loss. \n\nThat is why I think two things need to be done instead of new laws that are anathema to freedoms that academia must uphold. \n\n- We must learn, discuss in detail, and address the ideology of The A.L.F. and in the process see changes happen on both sides. I know quite well there are researchers who keep their careers alive by killing monkeys. How can such motivations be prevented? Where are the many articles on their beliefs, methods and ideals? Where are the articles that compare them with our own? \n\n- Universities like UC should hire undercover private investigators to penetrate these groups. To keep in line with academic ideals, these investigators should act as anti-provacateurs. Their mission should be to calm things down.

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