The Fellowship of Life
A reply to an article a week earlier by John Gummer entitled "Standing up against the fascist bully-boys of 'animal liberation' - the test our money men failed."
The case for animal rights
Sir, "Muddle-headed...fascist...Bully-boy...mafia..." - Mr. Gummer's
over-the-top and thoroughly one-sided analysis of the campaign to close
the Huntington Life Sciences laboratories should not be left unaddressed
in any balanced journal.
The origins of the Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty (SHAC) initiative -
as with every other animal rights/liberation/protection campaign - is
that of public outrage at institutionalised and routine horror, brought
to light only through undercover investigations.
The scientific validity of animal research is increasingly being
called into question, by a growing number of doctors. There is also,
thankfully, a burgeoning sphere of science devoted entirely to "humane
research" into finding possible cures for human ailments, which should
receive the whole-hearted support of our Church.
The premise of vivisection is that evil is permissible, in the hope
that some little bit of good may come of it. In reality, the reverse has
been reaped, through human side-effects from animal tested drugs. God's
laws are not arranged in such a way that our search for healing should
be contrary to humanity.
As Catholics, we fall way short of the saintly and scholarly insights
of our own tradition. At a sermon in Oxford, on Good Friday 1842,
Cardinal Newman spoke of the "cold-blooded and calculating men of
science" and admonished his congregation to: "Think then my brethren, of
your feelings at cruelty practised on brute animals, and you will gain
one sort of feeling which the history of Christ's cross and Passion
ought to exite within you."
A cursory glance at the Catholic press reveals that the sanctity of
the human embryo, as an ideal, is rightly upheld and regardless of its
potential for ill-gotten scientific gains.
Yet most Christians continue to countenance cruel, relentless
experimentation on other creatures, with highly developed minds and
We appear morally threatened by animal rights ideology, when what is
really needed is a consistent pro-life ethic, based on a selfless love
and assimilated within the spirit of Christ, the Lord of all Creation.
I agree with Mr Gummer that the tactics of intimidation and violence
are anathema to the Christian way. Whether the end goal is a justice
derived via international conflict, animal exploitation, or, to an
infinitely lesser though no less serious a degree; animal rights
millitancy. At the end of the day the worst criminals can be assessed by
the amount of innocent blood they have on their hands.
For all their faults, the SHAC protesters are bearing witness to
incalculable non-human suffering. I would confidently posit that their
number contains many a contemporary saint.
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