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Monday, February 27, 2006

For one day, I felt Oxonian...

I think it's important to add another voice to the chorus of support for the Pro-Test march in Oxford at the weekend - it's good to see that you can shower on at least a semi-regular basis and still exercise your right to peaceful protest. I did begin to wonder...

The best posts about it that I've found are here and here. Reading these reports now wish even more that I could have made it but, alas, long-standing commitments prevented me.

If I had, I would have found myself firmly on the side of those defending Oxford University's right to develop an animal testing lab, as I strongly believe in the value of testing even though I do have concerns that it is as humane as possible. What's more, I would have been more surely against those who oppose it, those who eschew any rational debate for the rule of the mob in adopting the role of the bully. Groups such as the ALF and SPEAK have much of which they should be ashamed.

I am pleased Oxford, the University and its students (both past and present) are taking a stand on this matter in the face of intimidation. Although I was fairly undecided on the merits of the plan at the time, I recall quite clearly, as a student at Cambridge University, when the university shelved plans for its primate lab a few years ago. A similar campaign to that endured by Oxford was sparking up and the University, in my opinion spinelessly, decided to consult with student unions to "gauge student opinion about threats from the disruption". This was, of course, merely a prelude to saving as much face as possible in the resultant climbdown. My view at the time, which I expressed quite publicly, as now, is that it was a matter for scientists at the university. If they thought it was necessary and useful then we should have been happy to stand up to those who sought to bully us.

Here are other comments from the meeting:

Animal rights protesters would relish the opportunity to disrupt university and college life. Are we asking for trouble? Especially as we're near the site. [etc etc etc]

Protesters might leave us alone if students don't support building.

Sadly bullies all too often prosper.

So, well done and thank you Pro-Test.


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