Beagle blinding, killing leaves animal experimentation proponents on the defensive

Sep 28, 2016
In The News

CBS News’ recent exposure of waste of your and my tax dollars on a cruel experiment designed in such a way as to be ineffective before it was even begun may be the single-most critical event in the fight to stop government funding of animal experiments in months, or even years.

For those unfamiliar, the University of Missouri is being sued for allegedly blinding, and then killing when the experiment went awry, six beagles. Prior to their deaths, the six dogs—a number insufficient to provide any meaningful scientific insight—had acid dripped into their eyes. The experiment, like so many others, was paid for using your and my tax money, and generated a huge amount of media attention and social media chatter.

Now, it appears that groups and individuals known for advancing spurious theories and rumored to be astroturfer targets, including some so-called conservatives who have evidently found a new line of wasteful government spending to embrace, are stepping up their advocacy for this kind of nonsense, which remains completely indefensible—on scientific inquiry, fiscal responsibility, and anti-cruelty grounds. Americans who care about how government spends our money, about animal rights, and about real scientific inquiry that informs and pushes the boundaries of human knowledge, should be on guard and not buy what’s being sold.

Taxpayer funding of animal experiments is not a partisan issue, but it is one that has real resonance with both progressives, keen to see taxpayer money spent on items like health care and education while preventing the constant flow of government cash that imperils our furry friends more than anything else these days, and conservatives, who should oppose all government waste on spec, in the name of limited government and fiscal conservatism. There’s a reason that principled leaders, whether Rep. Dina Titus or Sen. Jeff Flake, oppose running monkeys on treadmills until they become sick or dropping loads of taxpayer cash on hooking them on crack.

The truth is, lobbying and advocacy aimed at maintaining or expanding the $12 billion a year minimum the U.S. government spends poking and prodding our furry friends isn’t about saving human lives, or groundbreaking scientific inquiry, or avoiding another Holocaust (a novel claim of experimentation advocates). It is literally about keeping the gravy train flowing for 1 percenter inhabitants of ivory towers who don’t care how much they waste, or how ridiculous or non-informative their often duplicative, repetitive “research” is. This is why, in the coming months, you can expect to see more hyperbolic emotive calls for maintaining, or even doubling down on, the status quo. And it’s why rational people across the philosophical spectrum should ignore them.

Progressives and conservatives alike must reject calls to keep the trough full, and start calling for at least some of that $12 billion to be put to better use: Whether it’s countering the Zika virus, taking the opioid crisis head-on, paying down the national debt, better funding care for our veterans or our kids or our poor, giving Americans a small tax rebate, or even just fueling federal government workers with more ice cold Diet Cokes, there is no shortage of better things to do with this money, which is yours and mine.