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Neuroscientist Halts Research to Stop Extremists 1047

Posted by Zonk
from the everybody-loses dept.
FleaPlus writes "UCLA neuroscience professor Dario Ringach, known for his contributions to our understanding of how the visual system processes information, has been forced to give up his experiments by the actions of animal-rights extremists. Although he and his family had endured harassment and vandalization by animal-rights activists for years, Ringach reconsidered after extremists tried to firebomb a colleague's home and accidentally left their Molotov cocktail on an elderly neighbor's doorstep. Ringach sent an email to animal activist groups saying, 'You win... please don't bother my family anymore.'"
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Neuroscientist Halts Research to Stop Extremists

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  • by Sinryc (834433) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @09:33PM (#15986972)
    Why can't get get rid of our home grown ones?
    • by hey! (33014) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:14AM (#15987837) Homepage Journal
      With the war on terrorism... why can't get get rid of our home grown ones?


      Because a "War on Terrorism" is, practically by definition, unable to do anything about terrorism.

      This is so because terrorist organizations are not military ones. They neither operate according to the laws of war, nor do they pursue the normal strategic objectives of war, nor do they use the typical means of war. The only thing that they have in common with a military organization is that they employ violence; the resemblence to a military organization ends there.

      I know "War on Terrorism" is only an analogy, but it is a very poor one. It's not that the struggle against terrorism has no parallels with war; but it parallels war only to the degree terrorism parallels warfare. Taking this loose analogy too seriously and literally means you end up fighting in the wrong places with the wrong equipment and the wrong strategy. It's like declaring you want to beat the Yankees, then showing up at the Meadowlands in your football gear. Chances are you're going to have a football game against the Jets instead of a baseball game against the Yankees.

      Saying the struggle against terrorism is not warfare is not tantamount to dismissing its importance. If you think that way, the only way society could achieve anything is by warfare. "War" is the wrong word.

      What you need is a word that subsumes struggle on many levels, at times manifesting as battle in the military sense, but even more often as purposeful social reorganization. A word that implies a heightened vigilance on the part of individuals, and an individual share in the responsiblity for victory. You need a word that indicates a shared goal that is held in high importance by every level of society, and which therefore affects both great policy and mundane daily decisions. "War" carries the emotional and moral gravity of the situation, but it implies excessively narrow tactics.

      English, does not have an adequate word for this kind of struggle, but ironically Arabic does: jihad.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Damn fine post. I'd give you mod points if I ever got any.

        I always love people who delve into the meanings of words and present a very good treatment without resorting to terminology nobody understands.. very clear post, thanks!
      • Why not... (Score:5, Informative)

        by coma_bug (830669) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @02:11AM (#15988276)
        English, does not have an adequate word for this kind of struggle, but ironically Arabic does: jihad.

        Why not crusade?
        • Re:Why not... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by hey! (33014) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @09:39AM (#15989243) Homepage Journal
          I'd considered "crusade", but rejected for two reasons. The first is that the word has historical baggage, right from its very creation.

          The crusades came about in large part because the Benedictine monks of Cluny were struggling to reform and control the Roman church after it had absorbed a large number of northern European barbarian chieftans and their retainers. This was the context in which the Eastern and Roman churches split. Just because they were baptized, these barbarian warriors did not change overnight, giving up their habits of pillage and petty warfare. The Cluniacs came up with a program which must have seemed to them, in the words used by Col North do describe the Iran Contra deal "a neat idea". They'd harness the martial energy of the barbarian knights to a useful purpose, at the same time the effort would provide a kind of military pilgrimage that would tutor them in Christian spirituality.

          So, what the Cluniacs and their sophisticated disciples intended was very much a kind of struggle of the sort I describe. The knights, however, perceived the effort in a much simpler and more familiar way: vendetta. Somebody else was holding clan lands. Plus they decided that they had an issue of blood to settle with the Jews. Up until this point, anti-semitism as we know it did not exist.

          The second reason is that allowing that "crusade" could be used would weaken my point, which was probably the more telling of the two reasons. Then you had to come along and notice. Thanks much.

          • One Nit (Score:5, Informative)

            by gillbates (106458) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @01:26PM (#15990090) Homepage Journal
            Up until this point, anti-semitism as we know it did not exist.

            As a matter of fact, it did. By the time the Crusades got going, Muslims had invaded Spain and forced the Jews to either convert or be killed. They did the same to the Christians. Had the Pope the audacity to start the Crusades many years earlier, the multitudes of Jews in Spain and Jerusalem could have been spared their lives.

      • by tbo (35008) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @03:37AM (#15988512) Journal
        This is so because terrorist organizations are not military ones. They neither operate according to the laws of war, nor do they pursue the normal strategic objectives of war, nor do they use the typical means of war. The only thing that they have in common with a military organization is that they employ violence; the resemblence to a military organization ends there.

        Hezbollah, recognized by many Western nations as a terrorist organization, has quite a lot in common with more conventional military organizations. It has a chain of command, "civilian" oversight of its military wing (i.e. Nasrallah and the Hezbollah members of Lebanon's parliament), substantial military training, and the arms necessary to hold its own when going up against a powerful Western military (I'm thinking in particular of the advanced anti-tank missiles Hezbollah has). Israel has probably failed to do so, but it seems likely it is possible to severely wound Hezbollah with conventional "war". (Whether that's the best course of action is a different matter.) If we're talking about Hezbollah, "war" is an apt word; the same held true for Al Qaeda when they had control of Afghanistan.

        I know "War on Terrorism" is only an analogy, but it is a very poor one. It's not that the struggle against terrorism has no parallels with war; but it parallels war only to the degree terrorism parallels warfare. Taking this loose analogy too seriously and literally means you end up fighting in the wrong places with the wrong equipment and the wrong strategy. It's like declaring you want to beat the Yankees, then showing up at the Meadowlands in your football gear. Chances are you're going to have a football game against the Jets instead of a baseball game against the Yankees.

        I think you're mostly right, but this is largely about PR and semantics. "War on Terror" is shorthand for "Military action against some who support Islamist terror, and the struggle to prevent terrorism through a broad spectrum of means". The latter just doesn't have the same ring to it, is all.

        English, does not have an adequate word for this kind of struggle, but ironically Arabic does: jihad.

        "War" does seem to be getting tired. Perhaps "The Jihad against Jihad". But then, English does have an equivalent word: "Crusade". Once things get to the point where names can't make it any worse, why not have some fun? One side can be "The Crusade against Jihad", while the other side is "Jihad against the Infidel Crusaders". It reminds me of the Judean People's Front and People's Front of Judea [wikipedia.org] from Monty Python's Life of Brian [wikipedia.org], which is surely a good starting point for understanding the Middle East.
  • "animal" rights? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macadamia_harold (947445) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @09:36PM (#15986986) Homepage
    Although he and his family had endured harassment and vandalization by animal-rights activists for years, Ringach reconsidered after extremists tried to firebomb a colleague's home and accidentally left their Molotov cocktail on an elderly neighbor's doorstep.

    I don't get it. Aren't humans "animals", too?
    • by Ignorant Aardvark (632408) <cydeweys@gmail. c o m> on Saturday August 26, 2006 @09:46PM (#15987052) Homepage Journal
      No kidding, humans are the animals we all should instinctively have the most empathy with.

      Fucking "animal rights" terrorists.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MarkRose (820682)

      I don't get it. Aren't humans "animals", too?

      All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

  • What I don't get (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @09:38PM (#15986993)
    Is why these groups are allowed to continue to exist. I'm sorry but I don't buy this crap of "We applaud people who do things like this and we don't stop members from doing it, but really it's not our fault that it happens!" Sorry, like with corporations, I think if there's consistent bad action by our members and if your policy encourages that, then you are liable, regardless of if it was "official" or not.

    While you certainly can't be expected to control all the actions of everyone who belongs to your group, there's still a duty not to turn a blind eye on purpose, and then pat them on the back after the fact.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Vellmont (569020)

      Is why these groups are allowed to continue to exist.


      The government would have to prove that leaders in the organization were directly involved in supporting the actions of some of its members. Look at organized crime as an example. The FBI worked very hard for many years to get prosecutions of the leaders of the mob. There would have to be a similar concerted effort to take down these animal rights people.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dsanfte (443781)
        If they needed to work that hard to get mob bosses in prison, then the burden of proof was/is too high. Lower it.
  • Activitists (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quasar1999 (520073) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @09:38PM (#15986994) Journal
    Bah... these are the real terrorists... You don't agree with what someone is doing, then sue them... that's the american way... and if that fails, then try and get a law passed to make it illegal... starting your own personal war based on your morals is no different than the actions of those the US is currently calling terrorists. But hey, this is in the country who's government doesn't believe in teaching evolution anymore...

    Times like these I'm happy to live in a country where the worst thing activists do is slow down traffic, and hold marches.
  • Terrorists. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grendel Drago (41496) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @09:39PM (#15987004) Homepage
    Fucking terrorists. They're the same as abortion clinic bombers, using violence to induce fear to achieve their political goals.

    And I want to say that he should have stood up to them, that if you give in like this, the terrorists win... but the guy's put up with years of harassment, and now violence against his coworkers, with a very real threat to his family and to people unlucky enough to live near him. So it's understandable why he's packing it in; under the same circumstances, I would have given up years earlier. But it still fucking sucks.

    The most grating part of it is that I'll bet the assholes from UCLA Primate Freedom who posted his picture and contact info think they can wash their hands of the inevitable results of their propagandizing.
    • Re:Terrorists. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by devbiowonk (638623) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @09:52PM (#15987086)
      Amid all of the chaos of today's world (our lovely wars in the middle east etc.), this is the most depressing story I have read all week. A scientist was forced out of a field that he has dedicated a significant portion of his life to by some self-important zealots(at least he has tenure already). I find it ironic that the people on the far left of the polictical spectrum perpetrating these acts are achieving the goals of the far right (halting the progress of science). Perhaps I am just biased because I have done animal research myself...
      • by Grendel Drago (41496) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @10:09PM (#15987184) Homepage
        Far-right and far-left zealots have a lot more in common than they like to admit. Their shared radicalism leads to a desire to tear down our institutions and force society into a mold more to their liking. This means violence and force, lots of force.

        What kind of animal research? What sort of ethical issues did you run into, and how did the system handle it? We hear that animal researchers are bloodthirsty scoundrels, cruelly vivisecting for the fun of it. Did you go through an IRB process, and what did that entail? What restrictions were placed on what you did?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LihTox (754597)
          Far-right and far-left zealots have a lot more in common than they like to admit.

          Particularly in the case of animal rights and anti-abortion circles. Both believe that a certain group of organisms (animals/fetuses) posess the same rights as humans, a postulate not accepted by the majority of people. Accepting such a postulate, both groups see the mass torture/slaughter of millions of human-equivalents every year, dwarfing (or at least equalling) the number of dead in wars around the globe. If you accept
    • Re:Terrorists. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ToasterofDOOM (878240) <d.murphy.davis@gmail.com> on Saturday August 26, 2006 @10:11PM (#15987197)
      This is something that all slashdotters can agree on, liberal or conservative, pro-animal rights or otherwise. These guys are as much terrorists as IED bombers or the mafia or those who hunted down civil rights activists in the past. regardless of your stance on whose politics are right, these people are deplorable and wrong.
  • crude explosive (Score:5, Informative)

    by phlegmofdiscontent (459470) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @09:41PM (#15987021)
    It's interesting to note that the LA Times article calls it a crude explosive (which could be anything from firecracker to pipe bomb) while the other article calls it a Molotov Cocktail (which IS crude, but more specific). All that aside, obviously these people (if they did it) are complete and utter morons. One does not light a Molotov Cocktail and place it on a porch. One lights a Molotov Cocktail and throws it through a window (or air vent on a Soviet tank, which was the device's original purpose). The glass container breaks, spraying flammable liquid all over the place which then ignites, burning the place down. THAT is how one firebombs a house correctly.
  • by Gopal.V (532678) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @09:46PM (#15987056) Homepage Journal
    The question to ask is where do you stop ? . As much of a tree hugger I am, putting a bomb at somebody's doorstep is now way to react. In fact, I'd say these activists have terrorized a man out of his quest for knowledge.

    Sure, I've gone and petitioned against trees being cut down. Indeed, we've even hugged a few and prevented their demise. But vigilante retribution was never the way to save animals. There have been transgressions on one side, but that doesn't justify the other side from commiting brutality.

    Replacing cruelty to animals, with one towards mankind doesn't solve the problem - mainly because there is no Noble Savage unlike what Rousseau dreamed.

    This is like terrorism with its own ecological brand (call it another religion if you want).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 26, 2006 @09:48PM (#15987064)
    ...I am going to torture 25 monkeys to death. Just for fun. Not for science, just good old fashioned fun.
  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Saturday August 26, 2006 @09:52PM (#15987087) Homepage Journal
    You know how cute animals are. Well animal rights activists are at their cutest when they loose invasive species from laboratories on the unsuspecting indigenous flora and fauna the way they did in the British Isles.
  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @09:54PM (#15987100)

    The fear of the modern radical environmentalist-wannabe is that man is going to disrupt nature, ending the vibrant life cycle that has taken so long to develop here, and the morals necissary to continue a 'balanced' life. That's a valid fear - but science is the last thing to attack if that is your fear.

    I cringe when people honor people who commit these actions with the title environmentalists. These bullies are instead waging war on the very forces in society with any hope of stopping a blind march towards environmental disaster. Scientists 'harm' animals so that worse harm does not have to happen to both other animals, and to people in the future. Perhaps their hope is that mankind will someday fall and nature continue - but mankind is a part of nature, and the very intelligence that drives us to exploit the rest of nature to the extent that we do now isn't going to drop away from the planet without a WHOLE lot of the rest of nature going with us.

    The idea is to avoid mass death, to allow the greatest morality to the greatest number - not close your eyes and mind to the realities of life and death. Science is our best way to keep our eyes open.

    But because these bullies can't fight society at large, they instead attack scientists. In the same way that religious extremists angry that society won't adopt their religion will strike at the weakest enemies they can find in hope that their brutality will shock the innocent into following them, these idiots seem to think that extremist bullying will somehow serve to save nature. Few things could be more disgusting in my eyes.

    Ryan Fenton
  • by dfenstrate (202098) * <dfenstrate&gmail,com> on Saturday August 26, 2006 @10:03PM (#15987156)
    The animal research still needs to be done, and because of assholes like these, it's all going to china.

    In China, the concept of human rights is laughable- do you think the government there gives a shit about animals?
    Or that they would hesitate to beat down any Animal Liberation Front jerks, quite literally?

    There should be laws against this kind of behavior, they should be enforced, or there should be a local law enforcement culture that encourages a violent beat down of people who carry on this type of harrasment campaign.

    Congratulations, morons. You will accomplish the opposite of what you intended- more animal research, and no government oversight to ensure they are being treated even vaugely humanely.
  • Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kohath (38547) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @10:04PM (#15987160)
    Animals don't have rights. It's not that much of a leap from the fantasy that anmials have rights to the justification that it's OK to firebomb people to protect animals.

    Reality never intercedes because it was left behind when the animal rights activists refused to complete the transition to adulthood and the realities and responsibilities that come with it. Some people just decide to live in a cartoon world.

    When animals agree to a set of minimum behavioral norms that define a civil society, then they'll have rights. Until then, it's the law of the jungle that defines the lives and fortunes of animals.
  • by Crashmarik (635988) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @10:14PM (#15987217)
    How many animal rights people are pro choice and willing to do violence to humans.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I'm not pro-choice, pro-life (I'm pro-"hell if I know"), or an "animal rights person", but it always strikes me how pro-lifers don't get that a cow is a hell of a lot more aware of what's going on than a human embryo. And if you sympathize with a monkey, you'd tend to look at a monkey-killer the way you'd look at a murder, and most people wouldn't hesitate too long about giving some hurt to a murderer.

      These guys are jerks and need to be locked up, but it's not like it's hard to understand where these peopl
  • by osgeek (239988) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @10:20PM (#15987252) Homepage Journal
    I'm going hunting tomorrow morning. I don't care for what. I'll just take my twenty gauge and a couple of boxes of shells; go out into the woods near my house; and start the massacre.

    And in the afternoon?

    Fishing with dynamite, baby.

    You animal rights terrorists may have won a round against the researcher, but I am a one-man animal sadist terrorist cell... and I've now been activated.
  • by cdrguru (88047) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @10:20PM (#15987253) Homepage
    Too many people. Too much research. Too much of everything.

    Moving to a "sustainable" use of resources would solve this problem. It would require a moderate reduction in population to something like 200 or 250 million people - about the population in 1800 to 1850. That would be a level of resource consumption and waste generation that would be sustainable. Natural processes would then reprocess waste products into resources ready to be used.

    This would only require killing off about 1 million people a day for 20 years or so to reach this level. I'm sure these activists would be all for this to reach a level of sustainable resource use.
  • Gandhi they are not (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bsandersen (835481) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @10:27PM (#15987290) Homepage

    FIrebombing, attempted firebombing, repeated assault, and even attempted murder (or manslaughter at the very least) are serious crimes that usually demand prison terms--sometimes lengthy ones. The animal rights activists probably think highly of themselves as brave and courageous but truth be told they just do these incredibly mean and destructive things, then go back to their drab little lives and 9-to-5 jobs at the end of the weekend. They probably believe they are making great sacrifices for their cause, and even compare themselves and their cause to the great causes they've all read about.

    But, comparing them to those who have truly sacrificed for their cause they fall embarrassingly short. Think what you may about characters like Ghandi but he spent a significant amount of his adult life in prison for taking the actions he took. These bozos don't expect to be caught, tried, or punished. "I can't go to prison. I have to pick up Muffy from daycare at 6."

    What's really depressing is these "cultural terrorists" are winning. {sigh}

    • by Grendel Drago (41496) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @11:14PM (#15987522) Homepage
      If they really believed in what they're doing, they'd be honest about it. But they dress it up in weasel words like "direct action". Consider this.

      Lauren Gazzola [myspace.com] was, according to her supporters, "alleged to have operated a website that reported on and expressed ideological support for protest activity against Huntingdon and its business affiliates. For this they are charged with "terrorism" and face an aggregate of 23 years in Federal Prison."

      Wow, that sucks. I mean, operate a website and go to jail? Pretty fucked up. We're living in a fascist nation. Time to join the revolu--oh, wait. Apparently they posted home addresses and phone numbers, and exhorted their members to engage in exciting activities such as [animalrights.net]:

      demonstrations at one's home using a loudspeaker; abusive graffiti, posters and stickers on one's car and house; invading offices and, damaging property and stealing documents; chaining gates shut, and blocking gates; physical assault including spraying cleaning fluid into one's eyes; smashing the windows of one's house while the individual's family was at home; flooding one's home while the individual was away; vandalizing one's car; firebombing one's car; bomb hoaxes; threatening telephone calls and letters including threats to kill or injure one's partner or children; e-mail bombs in an attempt to crash computers; sending continuous black faxes causing fax machines to burn out; telephone blockades by repeated dialing to prevent the use of the telephone; and arranging for an undertaker to call to collect one's body.
      Yeah, they're just like Gandi.

      50. On or about August 10, 2002, members of the conspiracy, including defendant LAUREN GAZZOLA, assembled outside the home of RH, an employee of M. Corp. and, using a megaphone, threatened RH, his wife and family with burning down their home.
      Who could have ever foreseen that such acts could have legal consequences?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        My 0.2c:

        I did some animal research half way through my medical degree. It was on ways to improve the bionic ear.

        I read Peter Singer's "Practical Ethics" about a year later, and that's when I became a vegetarian, which I've stuck to since. However, I'd still do animal research again if I thought it was going to help avoid the suffering or premature death of humans. A lot of the tablets I prescribe have a little bit of gelatine in them (which vegetarians like myself can't usually eat, but I'd certainly take s
  • by selex (551564) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @10:40PM (#15987348)

    As was pointed out on Penn and Teller's Bullshit! the CEO, director, whatever you want to call this person of PETA is diabetic. So she needs insulin to live. Well insulin was tested on animals, and certain strains are made by animals. So for her to live she must abuse animals. Now the point being natural selection should have kicked in here at some point, and well taken care of her, but because humans use research on animals to help humans AND animals (the vet didn't learn how to take care of cats and dogs by magic) with sickness, this person lives to make her wacko friends blown crap up.

    Also pointed out was that PETA spent some money on a large freezer. This freezer was used for cadavers, animal cadavers, because they end up euthanizing animals they take in but cannot find homes for, ie what the Human Society has do sometimes. Check out the episode, its on 2nd season I believe which is out on DVD.

    So the moral of this story is that, fine have ideals, have crazy ideals no normal person would find moral, but don't be a hypocrit...makes you look like an asshole.

    Selex

  • by Courageous (228506) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @10:58PM (#15987446)
    In my area of the world, there was a famous white supremacist who was always squeaky clean. Eventually, one of the kids who hung out with him on occasion killed someone. The family sued the white supremacist for "contributory" reasons, and won. They took everything he owned.

    Easy enough. Do the same thing here. Go after the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) for encouraging this kind of thing. It's right on their website, the masks, clearly instruments of anonymity and terror. Take 'em down, they have it coming.

    C//
  • by melted (227442) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @11:32PM (#15987610) Homepage
    http://www.aesop-project.org/Israel/Experiments_ex posed.html [aesop-project.org]

    Then I'm sorry to say, I'm glad activists reached their goal. I don't approve of their methods, but I don't approve of vivisection either.
  • by badzilla (50355) <ultrak3wl AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday August 27, 2006 @07:23AM (#15988974)
    During the Apartheid years Lady Thatcher said Nelson Mandela was a terrorist. But now her replacement is all buddy-buddy with Nelson.

    http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article1 222111.ece [independent.co.uk]

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