PETA vs. U of U: odd counterallegations | Buzz Blog

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

PETA vs. U of U: odd counterallegations

Posted By on November 24, 2009, 3:41 PM

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"LZ", the PETA member who allegedly documented animal abuses at some U of U animal-research labs, has been labeled a "spy" in the Trib. The term is certainly punchier than those unwieldy value-neutral terms such as "undercover investigator" -- but "spy" does carry some rather negative connotations, and may imply bias where none is necessarily intended. ---

More recent counterallegations by U officials seem oddly misplaced -- almost as if they're more interested in discrediting LZ than in falsifying the actual allegations. For instance:

She was a "fraudulent" employee. That is, she allegedly lied on her resume. Of course, in her line of activism, this kind of goes without saying: When applying for the job, she would have been nuts to have stated she was a PETA activist, or to list any previous employer (such as the Oregon National Primate Research Center) which had ended up as the target of animal-abuse charges.

She broke the rules by bringing a camera to work. Again, this is rather obvious, since PETA's charges are reportedly documented by photographic evidence -- and, if this is so, that is what the lab officials should really be countering.

This is not to say that it's OK to lie on resumes or violate non-disclosure agreements -- normal people who go around deceiving their employers soon find themselves to be permanently unemployable. But this is a PETA activist we're talking about, here. We know that their devotion to their cause verges on the fanatical. They are not motivated by professional success, but by the number of animals they can free from what they genuinely view as Auschwitz-grade conditions. 

So, whatever one's view on animal research, for lab officials to spend so much time talking about LZ's deceptiveness as a U employee is a losing game. It's like defending yourself against the IRS by accusing the auditor of being a "nosy Parker."

My personal views are that medical research on animals may be justified where: 1. The research is for genuine medical purposes. Let the pretty people test their own goddamn eyelash goop. 2. Research is designed to minimize the suffering of animal subjects. Assuring humane treatment is even more important than the goals of the experiment. 3. Wherever possible, alternatives such as tissue cultures are used.

Even though these are very restrictive criteria, I think they still make me an animal-torture collaborationist in PETA's eyes. (But so does, I've learned, my own patronizing attitude toward my cat.)

Also, I'm really rooting for the U -- I am a Utah man, sir, and I would hate it if the innovative science that is being conducted up there were tainted by such shoddy practices as the ones PETA alleges.

So I would like to urge those lab spokesmen to drop the obvious counterallegations against LZ. There will be more good done if they focus on demonstrating that PETA's charges are unfounded.

And I hope it isn't the case, but if it so happens that there were some untoward things going on in that lab, it would look very good indeed if officials apologized and made sweeping policy reforms to ensure that such things never happen again.

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