The animal rights activist group Stop Animal Exploitation Now recently purchased airtime on several TV stations in California in order to make a strong point about the California National Primate Research Center. The commercial contends that the research center, which is affiliated with several UC campuses including UC Davis, allegedly perpetuates practices that needlessly torture the primates being used at the center.
The first thought one should have upon viewing this commercial is that animal rights activists airing commercials is a tremendous step forward from fire-bombing the houses of animal researchers. The FBI has previously arrested activist animal rights groups for offenses such as harassing researchers at their homes by trespassing on their personal property, calling them murderers and distributing fliers with the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the researchers.
By simply airing a commercial, SAEN (which has not been linked to any violent activism) has elevated animal rights activist groups as a whole and taken a step toward being taken more seriously.
The nature of the commercial, however, is highly disturbing. Several images of primates locked into various scientific devices are shown in an attempt to incite sympathy toward the primates and anger toward the research center. Nowhere in the commercial is it mentioned that the images are actually from research done at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The commercial also implies that the research center is using the money it receives to torture the animals and violate federal regulations. In 28 unannounced government inspections in 2009, the research center has not had one single violation.
The views of SAEN and similar groups are valid and should be heard. It is important for animals to have their rights protected.
There’s no valid reason, however, that those views cannot be expressed or advanced without slanderous misdirection and manipulation.