from a screen shot of They Live! 1988. Directed by John Carpenter.
consider the problem of monsters as a whole, its size is gargantuan. To
begin to understand the problem, we can identify the places and circumstances
that attract them. One thing they look for is the shield of authority, so
it makes sense to look for them in government. And there are places in government
where they flourish.
interrogators, prison guards, county and state mental institution doctors
and nurses, all of these professions have a disproportional incidence of
employees abusing the people under their control. The circumstances have
common elements. They are out of the public eye; the people being abused
have absolutely no recourse; authority figures tacitly or overtly condone
the abuse; and most importantly, the people being abused are deemed of low
status, powerless, and deserving and personally responsible for the ills
visited upon them.
enforcement is a place where monsters can be found without too much trouble
as well. You don’t have to watch many episodes of COPS to get an idea
of what passes as normal and accepted police behavior, or watch Jail to
begin to wonder just what sort of being is attracted to such a job. You
can’t watch the many available videos of groups of police officers
surrounding and striking with their clubs, kicking, pepper spraying, and
tasering people, without beginning to understand that this is a profession
that attracts monsters and people who can’t do much more than follow
orders or implied orders, people whom Milgrim called “moral imbeciles.”
And it isn’t a coincidence that most such cases involve minorities
as victims—poor, sometimes alien, usually non-Caucasians.
if blacks, Mexicans, poor people, the recently arrested, the mentally ill,
and assumed mentally ill, the elderly, the indigent, and prisoners are treated
so very poorly, so very cruelly, so often, it isn’t difficult to begin
imaging what’s being done to animals.
as I can separate them, there are three general groups who don’t care
about monstrous behavior to animals. They all start with the claim that
animals don’t matter as much as humans. (Humans are animals of course,
but unlike those relying on this artificial human/animal distinction to
shield their cruelty, I use it here as a rhetorical convenience, as it is
commonly used in general parlance.)
group, the overwhelming majority of human society, barely has an opinion
about anything. These are the people who question almost nothing that they
do. They do the things they do because television tells them to, sales displays
tell them to, Rush Limbaugh and radio ads tell them to, magazine ads tell
them to, sitcoms and dramas tell them to, their friends at work tell them
to. When you ask them why they eat animals, or why they do anything, they
look at you blankly. They can’t really hear you. The reasons they
do the things they do are so long ingrained, so repeatedly reinforced, so
encouraged, that you might as well have asked them why they just inhaled.
They don’t even know that they did.
second group has an opinion, but it is based on hearsay; they have little
time or interest in seeking out primary documents and information and knitting
together a reasoned, fact-based position on much at all. These are the people
who will say, “Well, I heard…” or “I read in the
paper that…” or “the Bible says…”. These are
the people who, given an opportunity, might be swayed by rational argument,
by a demonstration of the facts, by being asked to formulate a reasoned
defensible position. This is a small group.
third group is reasonably well informed, but it is filled by people simply
don’t care about others or else, actually enjoy watching them squirm.
These are the monsters.
pretty typical to hear someone from the first or second group say something
like animals don’t feel things like we do, or animals do the things
they do because of instinct. And in a way, a belief like that, though wrong,
at least excuses their abuses and abusive life style decisions. But those
from the third group have much different perspectives on what animals experience.
behavioral repertoire of nonhuman primates is highly evolved and includes
advanced problem-solving capabilities, complex social relationships…
Nonhuman primates are capable of advanced behaviors that share important
and fundamental parallels with humans. These parallels include highly
developed cognitive abilities and binding social relationships.(1)
when I was debating Paul Kaufman on the radio, I asked him just how similar
to us an animal would have to be before doing the things he does to them
should be seen as criminal as they would if he was doing them to humans.
Kaufman is a researcher at the University of Wisconsin. He replied that
such questions were “above his pay grade.” Paul Kaufman ought
to have an opinion on matters like this; he experiments on living monkeys’
eyes and has been doing so since the early to mid 1970s. In almost forty
years he hasn’t wondered whether animals with highly evolved behaviors,
advanced problem-solving capabilities, and complex social relationships
should have their eyes mutilated and be subjected to much pain and suffering,
or at least he claimed not to have thought about it.
like Davidson and Kalin might be more hideous than monsters like Kaufman,
who says only that human and monkey eyes are similar, since they base their
experiments on their belief that the mental experiences of the animals they
torture are like our mental experiences. That’s a dark claim.
when I was debating with Davidson on television he claimed that he didn’t
"hurt" the monkeys he experimented on when I was so brash as to
bring it up.
I can just respond to that. First of all let me clarify the issue of hurt.
In the work that we, I’ve collaborated on in nonhuman primates,
I think the word hurt is very misleading. The protocols that we use do
not involve pain to the animals. In fact, the research that we do in humans,
I would say, we are permitted to inflict more pain, if the protocol requires
it, than we can in nonhuman primates.
And so, I think it is deeply misleading to use the term hurt.(2)
is a case of either profound denial, or more likely, just him hoping to
confuse the audience, or his attempt to scurry into a dark hole because
the light has become too bright. Of course he hurts them. In the course
of his research they undergo highly invasive brain surgery. Can you even
imagine a brain surgeon telling you that it won’t hurt? And then he
frightens them. And he starts with the most anxiety-filled young monkeys
he can find. These are the sort of people in the third group, the Davidsons,
the Kaufmans, the Seligmans, the Suomis, the Little Angels, but also, the
ranchers, the dairymen, the circus people, the dog fighters, the pet breeders,
the zoo operators, the whalers, the fishermen, the bull fighters, the chicken
fighters, the people that throng to the animal fights, the fast food vendors
encouraging everyone to eat more animals, the people who raise all the animals,
who build the cages, who manufacture the food, who build the labs, who make
the drugs, who weave the nets, who make the guns, the knives, the electrodes,
the restraint chairs, and the people who defend them. There are monsters
it’s wrong to call someone who peddles fried chicken a monster. But
how like us does a chicken have to be, as far as being aware of the future,
having desires, preferences, fears, and delights, before hurting him or
her is a sin, is immoral, and should be considered a crime?
A hundredth? A thousandth?
USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that in 2008,
more than one and half billion chickens were killed in the United States
(1,503,267,000, not counting the many millions of male chicks who were either
ground up alive or simply thrown away, give or take a few thousand.) And
they were killed brutally. But maybe chickens aren’t enough like us
to really matter even though it is clear that they anticipate the future
and modify their behavior accordingly and have complex social relationships.(3)
about sheep, goats, or pigs? Are pigs enough like us when it comes to caring
about how they are treated, or disliking pain, or being curious, or brave,
or anything else to make hurting them a lot like hurting each other? How
like us need they be? A tenth? A hundredth? A thousandth?
more than sixty-one million pigs were killed in hideous ways. Their lives
leading up to slaughter were filled with fear and pain. According to the
University of Arizona’s committee on animal research, “The intelligence
of pigs should never be underestimated. Many behaviorists believe the pig
to be smarter than the dog and pigs are, without doubt, the ‘Einsteins’
of the farm.”
an undercover investigation of Seaboard Farms, Inc., North America’s
third largest pork producer revealed that employees routinely threw, beat,
kicked, slammed against concrete floors, and bludgeoned animals with metal
gate rods and hammers. “Other pigs were left to die slow and agonizing
deaths with severe injuries, illness, and lameness, often unable to reach
food or water, without even a trace of veterinary care.” The farm
manager pled guilty to three counts of felony animal cruelty. Only the farm
manager’s guilty plea makes this case an exception; the suffering
about cats and dogs? Is a dog enough like a human that hurting them should
be considered a crime? How like us do they have to be? According to an article
on animals’ minds in a 2008 issue of National Geographic, a six-year-old
border collie named Betsy:
can put names to objects faster than a great ape, and her vocabulary is
at 340 words and counting. Her smarts showed up early: At ten weeks she
would sit on command and was soon picking up on names of items and rushing
to retrieve them—ball, rope, paper, box, keys, and dozens more.
She now knows at least 15 people by name, and in scientific tests she's
proved skilled at linking photographs with the objects they represent.(4)
to the USDA, in 2007, just over seventy-two thousand dogs were experimented
on. Unlike the mice, rats and monkeys used in vivisection laboratories,
dogs tend to be used in only a few ways. The two main areas are toxicology
and cardiology. In the toxicology experiments the dogs are typically not
provided with any pain medicine. In the heart experiments, dogs commonly
have electrodes surgically embedded in their hearts to allow the monsters
to force their hearts to beat faster. This is called ventricular pacing
or forced pacing. It is often used until a dog dies of heart failure.
published in 2008 by monsters at Wake Forest University explains that:
total of 18 healthy male mongrel dogs (32.2±5.3 kg) were instrumented.
Ten animals were studied under normal control conditions and after volume
loading. Ten animals were studied after HF [heart failure] was induced…
Data were recorded with conscious, unsedated animals standing quietly
in the sling after full recovery from surgical instrumentation…
HF was induced by rapid ventricular pacing at 200 to 220 bpm for 4 weeks.(5)
dog who weighs about 32 kilograms or 70 pounds, has a heart rate of between
70 and 120 beats per minute. 200 to 220 beats per minute is a very rapid
pace; imagine your heart beating faster than it ever has for weeks on end,
being unable to move, with wires, probes, and tubes protruding from your
body. What would Betsy be experiencing in a situation like this?
if chickens, pigs, and dogs aren’t enough like us to make their pain
and fear rise to the level of serious concern, what about the animals acknowledged
by scientists to be most like us? How similar to us does another primate
have to be, as far as being aware of the future, having desires, preferences,
fears, and delights, before hurting him or her is a sin, is immoral, and
should be considered a crime?
A hundredth? A thousandth?
years ago I was working at a chimpanzee sanctuary in Cameroon. At that time
there were six orphan juveniles living in the “nursery.” Hunters
had killed their mothers. The nursery was about half an acre of forest surrounded
by an electric fence. A cabin-like building was divided into two parts,
a nesting/sleeping room for the chimpanzees and a tiny bedroom/food prep
room for a volunteer, where I slept. In the morning, I would get up and
make cups of toddler cereal and formula for each of them. They would get
up when they heard me stir and start hooting and clambering to have their
step out into the yard and open their door. I’d quickly hand a cup
to each of them and they’d settle down for a few moments. As they
finished up, I had to be sure to retrieve the cups or else they’d
be destroyed during the day’s very rough and tumble play.
they finished and I put the cups away, I’d sit with them for a while.
Babole would always climb all over me and urge me to play with him, which
I did, of course. Most of the others would start playing tag with each other
and climbing in the tangle of trees and vines, using them for trapezes and
usually started his day by playing with himself. He would gather small pieces
of wood, little sticks, a few stones, and pile them together. Then he would
sit with his pile and move things into small groups, arranging and rearranging.
This usually lasted for twenty or so minutes until one of the others would
sneak up on him and disrupt the order he had created, and off they would
tear after each other, sometimes using me as a sort of maypole to run around
what was Moabi doing? He seemed to me to be doing the same sort of thing
that I did as a child, as other young boys I have known do. He was pretending.
I don’t know what he was pretending, but his behavior wasn’t
discernibly different from the very poor children I’ve know who have
also turned sticks and stones into toys and have imagined them to be something
much different than they are. Maybe each of the small objects was a chimpanzee
in Moabi’s mind. It seems possible to me that they were.
pretty fast that I needed to sit with my back to a wall or close to the
fence to avoid being mauled from behind. Although the chimpanzees were young
and smaller than adults, they were robust, strong, and energetic. Once,
when I was sitting with my back to the fence, I inadvertently touched one
of the wires and received an immediate and painful jolt of a few thousand
volts. All the chimpanzees seemed to know immediately what had happened.
rushed over and consoled me, hugging me and, for a moment anyway, suspended
their mad-dash play to examine my back and cuddle against me. It was clear
to me that they all knew what I had felt because it had happened to them
too. They were empathizing and sympathizing with me.
how much like us does an animal need to be before hurting them should be
considered as much of a crime as it would be if it was being done to us,
or to one of our children?
is a disease called RSV that I learned about a few years ago. According
syncytial virus infection, usually called RSV, is a lot like a bad cold.
It causes the same symptoms. And like a cold, it is very common and very
contagious. Most children have had it at least once by age 2.
about this disease when an animal care technician at a giant primate lab
named Bioqual contacted me about the treatment of the animals used at the
lab. One of her concerns had to do with the young chimpanzees being used
in RSV experiments. A paper published in 2000 by monsters at Bioqual explained
that in one experiment, they used 19 one-month-old infants. They infected
them by “combined intranasal and intratracheal inoculation.”
They wrote that: “Nasopharyngeal swab samples were collected daily
for 10 days, and tracheal lavage samples were collected on days 2, 5, 6,
8, and 10.”
like us do they have to be? The genetic difference between chimpanzees and
us is vanishing thin. This is what I wrote about them in a newsletter to
Congress in about 2002:
Let This Be a Time of Equality in American History
Congress should cease funding all research on chimpanzees. Funds should
be reallocated for their permanent retirement. Only such action can approximate
justice. The chimpanzee issue challenges Congress to lead; it challenges
our beliefs about equality.
Chimpanzees can read.
It’s true that they can’t read very well, and they’re
not as gifted in language as we are, but their mental capabilities challenge
our traditional belief that humans alone are capable of such feats.
Chimpanzees can speak with us in sign language.
own amazing language abilities have allowed us to bridge a seemingly uncrossable
communication divide. But the discovery that we can communicate in our
own language with another species should cause us to reconsider our tradition-based
beliefs and the morality and behaviors they engender. Right now, we act
as if chimpanzee lives matter, just not very much.
The federal government’s recent actions suggest that Congress believes
that harming chimpanzees in research is worthy of taxpayer support.
The national policy on chimpanzees, such as it is, is confused. Passage
of P.L. 106-551, the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection
Act, allocated funds to retire "surplu"’ chimpanzees.
No similar program has been suggested for any other species. The ethically
important similarities between humans and chimpanzees are widely acknowledged.
Passage of the law was supported by an acknowledgment from the National
Institutes of Health that there may be too many chimpanzees in U.S. tax-supported
laboratories.(1) But simultaneously, NIH is allocating more funds to support
the chimpanzee experimentation program.(2)
The global research community has tacitly acknowledged that chimpanzees
are so similar to humans that experiments using them can hardly be justified.
In Europe, only six chimpanzees remain assigned to a single research project;
the rest are being retired to sanctuaries. Research using them is banned
in Great Britain and New Zealand. Here, the U.S. government owns or controls
most of the approximately 1400 chimpanzees available for research. (This
is a small number of animals. Compare this with the 50,000 monkeys, the
70,000 dogs, and the 20 to 30 million rats and mice used annually in the
U.S. (4) Also of note, is the fact that the overwhelming majority of these
chimpanzees have been, and are being, held simply in case a "need"
for them arises. Throughout the world, the moral and ethical realities
seem to be overtaking the claims regarding any "necessity" of
using these animals.
How Many Chimpanzees Are Available to Researchers
in the U.S.? (3)
University of Louisiana at Lafayette 368
Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research 250
National Institutes of Health (NIH)/Holloman Air Force Base 241
Emory University (Yerkes) 190
University of Texas 154
Primate Foundation of Arizona 76
Bioqual (Rockville, Maryland) 63
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 14
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 11
Total Available Chimpanzees 1367
very few philosophers and scientists continue to argue that chimpanzees
and other primates are so unlike us that certain harm to them is justified
by any chance of benefit to us. But those arguments are convoluted or
mean-spirited and reminiscent of the Southern intellectual defense of
slavery. The more common view is that humans and chimpanzees are much
National policy in this arena is crying for leadership from outside the
vested economic concerns. Members of Congress are personally and particularly
responsible for the nation’s continuing failure to address the important
ethical questions raised by the complex minds within the animals being
experimented on in the United States.
Chimpanzees live to be nearly as old as humans. They form long-lasting
relationships with each other. They make and use tools, they teach their
children how to use tools. They pass their simple cultures down from generation
to generation. Chimpanzees are intensely emotional, as are all primates.
They laugh, they hoot, they mourn.
One remarkable human gift is our ability to imagine justice based on compassion
and inclusiveness. Our hearts have led us to claim equality for those
unequal in many other ways. No matter how smart, how literate, how creative
one might be, we extend the basic right of freedom from harm by another
to all. We continue to break down the barriers built on prejudice. Only
tradition and the bigotry of a few vested interests keep us from reaching
across the barrier of species – a barrier to justice maintained
only by greed and the pre-scientific myth of mankind’s metaphysical
superiority to all else.
The mental and emotional similarity between chimpanzees and humans makes
our continuing use and warehousing of these animals indefensible. It is
time for a change. It is time for leadership.
Congress should cease funding all research on chimpanzees. Funds should
be allocated for the permanent retirement of all chimpanzees.
Let this be the time of equality in American history. Let our children
look back on today with the same relief and pride that we ourselves now
feel when we look back on past inequities and see our moral progress reflected
in our revulsion to those moments most obscene. Let this be the time when
the United States Congress leads the way to basic legal protections for
all those who can suffer, as we ourselves are wont to do.
It is possible.
(1) John Strandberg, Prepared Statement on H.R. 3514. National Center
for Research Resources, National Institutes of Health. Hearing before
the Subcommittee on Health and Environment of the Committee on Commerce.
U.S. House of Representatives. May 18, 2000.
(2) University of Louisiana at Lafayette, “Expansion of NIH Chimpanzee
Holding Facility,” (Grant 1C06RR016483-01); $1,975,176. (2002).
And, “Establishment/Maintenance of Biomedical Research Colony
(Grant 5U42RR015087-03); $843,593. (2002). University of Texas, “Establishment/Maintenance
of Biomedical Research Colony, MD Anderson Cancer Center.” (Grant
1C06RR017724-01); $1,959,906 (2002). And, “Organized Research,
Veterinary Science: Extramural Research Facilities Construction Projects.”
(Grant 5U42RR015090-03); $5,155,254 (2002).
(3) No one knows with absolute certainty. The table represents the most
currently available data drawn from official documents from NIH and
the facilities named. Most of these animals are not being used in research.
(4) United States Department of Agriculture. Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service, APHIS. “Animal Welfare Report: Fiscal Year
2001. Report of the Secretary of Agriculture to the President of the
Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.” Appendix.
university and many of the colleges in the US, people with mental defects
or delays are being allowed to do horrible things to animals. Police departments
seem unable to weed out the monsters from their ranks. Government agencies
attract people willing to do anything they are allowed to do. Monsters are
pretty clear that there is something wrong with such people. It’s
not so much that they can’t or don’t understand their victims’
suffering; it’s that they don’t care, or worse, that they want
their victims to suffer. It turns out that psychologists and medical doctors
were involved in the torture of prisoners -- convicted of nothing -- in
the interrogation program carried out by the US government in the years
following September 11th. Presumably, psychologists have a deep understanding
of people’s feelings. They hoped that the methods they devised would
be horrible. Those who did these things were monsters.
you take notice of the problem it is hard not see it everywhere you look.
It’s sort of like John Carpenter’s film They Live! in which
the main character puts on a pair of special sunglasses and presto, he sees
the world as it really is, a world dominated by alien monsters who appear
as regular old humans when seen without the glasses. Subliminal messages
are everywhere, embedded in all the normal signs and billboards, telling
unsuspecting humans to obey and consume, only in this case the subliminal
messages say: "Animals don’t matter." "Ignore obvious
suffering." "Eat more animals." "Wear more animals'
skins." "Animals are disposable."
Burbacher TM, Grant KS. Methods for studying nonhuman primates in neurobehavioral
toxicology and teratology. Review. Neurotoxicology and Teratology. 2000.
WISC-TV. “For The Record,” Hosted by Neil Heinen. Sunday, June
Abeyesinghe SM, Nicol CJ, Hartnell SJ, Wathes CM. Can domestic fowl, Gallus
gallus domesticus, show self-control? Animal Behaviour. 2005.
Virginia Morell. Minds of their Own: Animals are smarter than you think.
National Geographic. March 2008.
Masutani S, Little WC, Hasegawa H, Cheng HJ, Cheng CP. Restrictive left
ventricular filling pattern does not result from increased left atrial pressure
alone. Circulation. 2008.