Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

So, I belong to this book group of 5 to 7 women. I've been with the group for a while and it's not bad. I do enjoy reading books and discussing them, but I have a quandary that I'm going to post about.

There is one member of this group who works for a pharmaceutical company. She is the "science" one and likes to call herself an "independent" on the political landscape. She is a practicing Catholic. That's all fine, except for one thing.

She supports medical research on animals.

Here are the two incidents I just CANNOT get out of my head.

1. We had a discussion about Lucy Grealey's "Autobiography of a Face." One scene has the author entering the part of the hospital where the research animals are. There are awful descriptions about what is being done to them. I was the only person who remembered the scene and brought it up. This woman, who I now mentally call "THE VIVISECTOR," defended medical research. She said that there were guidelines on how to treat animals and that, in medical ethics, they are considered "sacrifices." She then said, "I think people are more important than animals."

2. She recommended a book for me to read called Angelica by Arthur Phillips. It's a good book, much like the Turn of the Screw. But the scientist husband is a vivisector back in the 19th century. The descriptions of the research subjects are very roundabout, but still horrific to me. This woman said that those scenes didn't really bother her that much, it was the ghost and sexual implications in the story that disturbed her (latter relating to the human characters of course.) Which surprised me. It didn't affect you AT ALL?

So, fine, everyone is entitled to their opinion. My question though is whether I want to be in a book club with someone like that.

I went to someone's house and found out that a friend of theirs works for the University of Washington Primate Center, a horrific place with a TERRIBLE reputation for treatment of animal subjects. When I mentioned my surprise to my friend about this guy, she said that I handled it very "maturely." What did that mean? That I kept my mouth shut and smiled (which is what I did.) What if I had said something? I would have been the "immature" one at fault?

I've been dwelling on these issues for about a year and they fester and fester. Should I really spend time with people who disagree with me so profoundly on an issue that touches me to the core? Or am I being unfair and "immature" to be expecting everyone to agree with me.

Just cannot decide.


Anonymous said...

I am equally appalled by the lack of respect for animal life. I just can't fathom it.

I would quit the group. As the years go by, I am less and less willing to be directly subjected to that kind of mentality. On the other hand, you can stay on and continue the debate with her...maybe she'll quit the group.

As for her argument that "people are more important" I say this:

People are only more important to you because you are one, so your view is biased. Animals have just as much desire to live as we do, no more, no less. So in my mind, there is no qualitative difference between animal life and human-animal life.

You can research all you want, but at the end of the day...we are all going to die sometime of something. Why increase the amount of suffering in the world for the sake of medical research?

I don't wish to sound callous in regards to people with serious health conditions, but in modern times much progress can be made in medical research without the use of animals. And, at the end of the day we are all going to die somehow.

It is the scientists who are callous, thinking that anything is justified, even cruelty, in the name of research. Her "standards" of how to treat the animals are surely very low indeed.

People like this woman who think that "people are more important than animals" are, in fact, very much like animals themselves...animals look out for themselves and perhaps other members of their species, but they are not generally concerned with the welfare or suffering of other creatures.

The world would be a much kinder, healthier, and more liveable place if everyone exercised compassion and care for ALL life.

Well, that's my take on it. Bravo to you for bringing the issue up in your book club.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your eloquent response. That means a lot.