On Saturday, August 3, about three dozen citizens gathered outside the Oregon Regional Primate Resarch Center (ORPRC) at the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) west campus in Beaverton to protest the brutal treatment of animals at the facilities there. The ORPRC claims that the animals are "treated with concern for their psychological well-being [and] are kept in good health, except for illness or death induced for experimental reasons, [when] every attempt is made to make them comfortable." However, a number of whistleblowers have stepped foward and exposed these claims as lies. The most recent of these is Tom Larimer, a former primate technician at ORPRC, who described the conditions there as being the "most insensitive" he has ever seen: "In one case involving primate restraint during blood collection, I was told by one of the technicians 'training' me to: 'just pull the shit out of that leg'... 'you ain't gonna hurt that monkey'."
In another procedure that is used at ORPRC almost every day, technicians strap down male monkeys and shock their penises to obtain sperm for reproduction experiments. This technique was discovered through human torture with electricity. ORPRC is only one of several 'research' institutions where such cruelty is practiced daily on thousands of animals.
Animal-testing -- like the cutting of old growth trees, the mistreatment of workers, the cutting of social services, and war -- is another form of oppression wrought by the corporate powers-that-be in the pursuit of profit. Chemical companies test toxic substances on animals to prove their safety with humans, even though such comparisons are junk science. Tax money intended for basic human needs is hijacked for this testing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is charged with overseeing the conditions in labs (and which also runs the U.S. Forest SerVice), doesn't do its job. The result is tragic.
Armed with whistles, signs, and passion, the people outside the OHSU entrance on Saturday made their outrage with ORPRC and animal testing loud and clear. The protest was organized by In Defense of Animals.
Takin' pictures for the master database.
Your tax dollars at work !!
Funny side-note to this story: One of the people I met at the protest was Matt Rossell of In Defense of Animals, who came forward two years ago and revealed the horrors happening inside ORPRC. I first read about Matt over a year ago, at which time his name rang a bell in my head for some reason that I couldn't pin down. When a mutual friend introduced us he said, "You look familiar." So do you, I said. But that happens all the time at these things, I thought to myself. "Where are you from?" he asked. Originally? I asked. "Yeah," he said. Omaha, I answered. "We went to grade school together," he said. No way! I exclaimed, but it was true. St. Pius X Catholic grade school on 68th & Blondo. I totally remembered him, even though we hadn't seen each other in almost twenty years. Big hug!
Matt and I were both 'nerds' in grade school and it was great to meet again and see that we had taken similar paths. Perhaps being rejected by The System at such an early age makes one less susceptible to be seduced by its superficiality and greed later in life. Perhaps Catholicism, for all its faults, can help instill in people a "thirst for justice" (my mother's phrase). I have a great deal of admiration for Matt and his accomplishments, and on Saturday I felt like I must be doing something right that I found myself in the same circle as him, supporting a fight for what's right. Thanks for all your great work, Matt !!
And there were the cops, keepin' an eye on both of us. Perhaps Homeland Security should start rooting through Catholic grade schools and tracking down the nerds if they want to find some of the country's future rabble-rousers!
I would personally add that, in my mind, animal cruelty is yet another example of what happens when you build a culture centered on science and rationalism, and eschew spirit and meaning. If an animal is just flesh and a tree just wood, what is there to hurt? Such dismissiveness of the life that is in living things on the rationale that are not human -- and therefore don't have feelings or consciousness -- makes it that much easier to apply the same viciousness to humans themselves. Witness the incredible crimes committed against people in the last century, and consider the ones being planned by the U.S. government now. The powers-that-be do indeed keep us down with a religious opiate, but that opiate is no longer organized religion; now it is science, and the faith that people have in it is no less ignorant than the superstitions that people held before. The only difference is that the purely quantitative tenets of science, for denying the existence of spirit and dismissing the importance of meaning, holds even less truth than its myth-centered predecessor.