The Torch of Reason,
The Sword of Justice


“Tom Regan’s impassioned speech combined the gentle torch of reason with the warrior’s sword of justice.”

—Michael Bell, World Day for Lab Animals, 1988, on the steps of the Federal Building, LCA Rally, Westwood, CA


We are gathered here today to declare war on vivisection! Our shared goal is not to reform this great evil but to abolish it completely! It is not bigger cages we want, but empty cages! Anything less than total victory will not satisfy us!
      The position we hold — the abolitionist position — is often said to be “extreme,” and those of us who hold it are said to be “extremists.” The unspoken suggestions are that extreme positions cannot be right, and that extremists must be wrong.
      But I am an extremist when it comes to rape — I am against it all the time. I am an extremist when it comes to child abuse — I am against it all the time. I am an extremist when it comes to sexual discrimination, racial discrimination — I am against it all the time. I am an extremist when it comes to abuse to the elderly — I am against it all the time.
      The plain fact is, moral truth often is extreme, and must be, for when the injustice is absolute, then one must oppose it — absolutely. And the injustice of vivisection is absolute.
      Which is why we are gathered here today, to declare war on vivisection!

      Another thing we are said to be — those of us who are abolitionists — is…emotional.
      I mean, shame, shame, shame! We actually have feelings. Like, don’t dare love someone, don’t dare sympathize with somebody, don’t dare care about another’s hurt or loss, don’t dare feel anger or rage because others are the victims of injustice. I mean, grow up! Mover over, Mr. Spock.
      All of this, of course, is utter nonsense. A life without feelings and emotions is the empty shell of a human life, not even a life at all. Of course we know this. Even the apologists of vivisection know this. I mean, I've seen some of them get mighty heated-up: red of face, swollen of tongue, apoplectic of complexion, cardiac of heart, screaming of voice, thumping of fist, wide of eye, on-end of hair... and wet-of-pants angry!
      So enough of this self-righteous denunciation of emotionalism. It's time to understand that strong emotions — real deep anger, real deep rage, real deep hostility — are perfectly natural feelings to have in the face of real deep injustice.
      Which is why we are gathered here today, to declare war on vivisection, and we will not be satisfied with anything less than total victory!

      Yet another thing we’re said to be — those of us who are abolitionists — is ... ignorant.
      I mean, we don't know nuthin'. Ask us about DNA, and we think you're referring to some national rifle lobby group. B12? That's a number what gets called in Bingo, ain't it? In-vivo research? That's something funny those Eye-talians are doing to get their wine to taste as good as Made-in-America ripple. I mean, what we're talking about is your basic Stone Age ignorance here.
       I love this part of our group portrait — the vivisection industry's picture of us — the picture they pay hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars to put out in the media. The reason I love it is because it's so demonstrably false — you have to wonder if these people live on another planet.
      Don't they know about the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine? Don't these people know about the Medical Research Modernization Committee? Don't these people know about Veterinarians for Animal Rights? Or Nurses for Animal Rights? Or Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals? Or the 750 practicing physicians in the state of California who have denounced vivisection categorically?
       Don't these people know about the philosophers Peter Singer, Steve Sapontzis, Bernie Rollin, Susan and Lawry Finsen, and Sidney Genden? Don't these people know about the theologians Andrew Linzey and John Bowker? Don't they know about the legal theorists David Fauvre, Christopher Stone, and Gary Francione?
      Don't the paid-for apologists of vivisection ever come out of their cushy offices to see what's going on in the real world? Don't they understand that all the people, and all the groups I've mentioned — representing the best, the most gifted, the most informed minds of our generation — are speaking out against vivisection?
      Which is why we're gathered here today, to declare war on vivisection!
We won't be satisfied with anything less than total victory!

      Misanthropic ... that's another thing we're said to be; that's a $100 word that means ... we don't like anybody... not our mothers or fathers, not our husbands or wives, not our sons or daughters, not our friends or lovers …not even Mother Theresa or Bishop Tutu.
      What we love are ... Lassie and Bambi — animals. And only animals, which is why we want to stop research on animals, according to the medical industrial complex. According to them, nothing would please us more than to have more and more human beings suffer, more and more human beings die.
Whattya say, Marquis de Sade? Let's party ... at Forest Lawn!
      Who are these people who think they can get away with misrepresenting the truth? Don't these people know about Tom and Betsy Gidux — Betsy committed in her professional life to helping the elderly, Tom, a medical doctor, helping people of all ages? Don't they know about Dr. Bob Greenberg, a pediatrician, who works to keep young children healthy? Don't they know about David and Courtney Amman — David, a school principal, Courtney, a public school teacher? Don't they know about Shelley Shapiro, who works in the emergency room of a major hospital, and who does volunteer work counseling rape victims? Don't they know about Marly Cornell, who has taken her own experience with her spina bifida daughter, Cody, and used this as a vehicle for helping other parents whose children are physically or mentally disadvantaged?
      These are the people — the Tom and Betsy Giduzs, the David and Courtney Ammans, the Shelley Shapiros and the Marly Cornells — these are the people who are the real heart and soul of the animal rights movement — people who stand as a part of, not a part from, the human rights movement, people who work to promote good, and eliminate evil wherever it raises its ugly head.
      Which is why we are gathered here today, you and I, to declare war on vivisection! And we will not be satisfied until we've gotten every animal out of every cage in every laboratory!

      Of course, what's really ironic is how accurately the medical industrial complex describes itself in efforts to describe its critics. Consider the charge of ignorance:
      When we find out that 34% of post mortems reveal that the now deceased victim was misdiagnosed: 34% were being treated for diseases they did not have, 34% were not being treated for the diseases that killed them;
      When we find out that 60-80% of the 250,000 coronary bypass patients, who undergo this surgery annually in the U.S., gain no increased lifespan when compared with patients who forego this radical surgery;
      When we find out that of the 900,000 caesarean deliveries performed in 1986 — a full 24% of all infant births — at least 50% were unnecessary;
      When we find out that of the 120,000 pacemakers implanted during that same year, more than 50% were not medically indicated;
      When we learn all this (and there is much, much more to learn) – when we find this out, even the most trusting among us must begin to understand where the charge of ignorance really fits ...
      All some people need to do is look in the mirror.

      What is true in the case of ignorance also is true in the case of compassion.
      When we find out that one in every six Americans has no medical insurance, that one million Americans annually are denied needed medical care, that the infant mortality rate in the U.S. is among the highest in the world, that a black child born in America is more likely to die before reaching the age of one than an infant born in any Third World countries, that some 300,000 black children are born in the U.S. every year without their mothers having received a single minute of pre-natal care, that black people who suffer from hypertension receive no medical assistance — and this for a simple reason: they can't afford it;
      When we find out that what is true of blacks in America, is comparably true of other minorities — Hispanics and Native Peoples, for example. If curative or preventive health care exists, they don't get it because they can’t afford it;
     When we find out that the same is true for most people who suffer from AIDS: precious few can afford the $8,000 a month it costs for AZT, for example;
      When we find out that for years the people who received preferential treatment in the organ transplant program at that Holy of Holies — the University of Pittsburgh — were not working class people from the steel mills, not working class people from the mines, but potentates from the Middle East who donated hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars to the medical school;
      When we find out that there are almost a million elderly people who have incomes of less than $5,500 a year, two thirds of whom do not qualify for Medicaid!
      When we find out that seven in every 10 elderly who live alone face total impoverishment after only 13 weeks in a nursing home (average cost: $22,000 a year; median income for the elderly: $11,000);
      When we find out where the truth lies, we find out who lies. Come on, let's be honest!

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