Leaping Bunny, Making Money

Torture as Religion

In the good old days of torture, “religion”* served as the ultimate justifier. During the Spanish Inquisition or the Salem Witch Trials, for instance, one could make a hobby or career of slowly crushing people with rocks or burning people at the stake. And the perpetrator of these acts could still be considered a righteous person for doing so, because these atrocities were done in the name of God. During such time periods, both professionals (such as clergy) and amateurs (such as the girls who provided most of the Salem witch accusations) could be grouped into two basic camps: (i) those who actually believed that torture served a legitimate end, and (ii) those who used “religion” simply as an excuse to indulge their sadistic fantasies.

While the moral culpability or blameworthiness of the second group might be higher, the end results produced by both groups were the same: bloodcurdling and gruesome torture and death of innocent victims. It is, therefore, difficult to completely absolve the first group simply on the basis of their ignorance.

Fortunately, numerous political principles (e.g., separation of church and state) and legal principles (e.g., presumption of innocence) have come along to largely eliminate the power of “religion” to serve as justification for sadistic indulgences, at least in Western culture. Unfortunately, however, a substitute justification has stepped in to fill the void left by religion.

The new justification for torture is called “science”*. But, in order to avoid the human rights obstacles that dethroned torture-as-religion, torture-as-science has been directed at animals.

Torture as Science

In modern times, the sadist’s refuge is a university or commercial lab, not a church. Safe within these walls, a “scientist” can inflict unspeakable horrors upon innocent victims day after day, out of sight and out of earshot of any (human) witness, and free from any authority who can intervene to halt the suffering. Victims are poisoned, shot in the face, burned alive, dissected alive and otherwise tortured in ways that would make even the most perverted inquisitor bow in awe. These very same acts would be criminal felonies if committed by a layperson—such as rape or beating of an animal—, but they are allowed to go unpunished as long as the perpetrator is wearing a lab coat. Indeed, the perpetrator—generally equipped with doctoral degree—is often revered as a truth-seeker and lover of knowledge. Meanwhile, death is literally the best and only hope for laboratory animals.

As with “religion” torturers, “science” torturers fall into the above two groups: (i) those who actually believe that torture serves a legitimate end, and (ii) those who use “science” simply as an excuse to indulge their sadistic fantasies. People falling into the latter group don’t merit any lengthy discussion. They are sick perverts who share the same common trait that serial killers typically share: a desire to torture defenseless animals.

“Scientists” falling into the former group do require more discussion. These are people who have been taught that science is a sort of unqualified good, an end that justifies any means. This point of view has been discredited long ago in the realm of philosophy. But, unfortunately, the Philosophy Department and the Science Department don’t yet communicate with each other very well on some university campuses.

Accountability as Accounts Receivable

Hopefully one day, science will be subjected to the same ethical constraints that religion has been. We really cannot pretend to be civilized until such day comes.

But until then, there is one higher authority that even “science” torturers recognize: the Almighty Dollar. And the power of this Almighty can be tapped by people like you and me every day in order to bring some accountability to the otherwise unmitigated victimization of laboratory animals.

Specifically, we can choose to spend our dollars to purchase only those products that have never been tested on animals (other than human volunteers who have provided informed consent in writing and in advance) andonly those products that are made by companies that never engage in animal testing. In refusing to support torture-as-science, we can hope to starve animal abusers financially just as they starve their victims literally.

Buy Only Those Products That Display the “Leaping Bunny” Logo

One easy way to bring the wrath of the Almighty Dollar to bear upon animal abusers is to buy only those cosmetics, toiletries and household products that display the “Leaping Bunny” logo. This logo is applied only to products which have met strict, cruelty-free standards as certified by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC). Organizations making up the CCIC include: American Anti-Vivisection Society, The Humane Society of the United States, Animal Alliance of Canada, and European Coalition to End Animal Experiments.

The Leaping Bunny Logo

Disciplining ourselves to purchase only those items that display the “Leaping Bunny” logo serves two very important purposes: (i) it provides financial rewards to those companies that do practice ethical science, and (ii) it financially starves those companies that practice torture “science”. We want the former companies to prosper and the latter companies to perish.

One Final Thought

Somewhere out there, another helpless cat or rabbit or chimpanzee is being taken from her mother to be subjected to a life of terror, pain and despair. She will spend her remaining days immobilized in a head clamp while harmful chemicals are squirted into her eyes or her mouth or on her skin. The best we can hope for her is that the mercy of death comes quickly.

You and I have the power either to sponsor or reject torture. In honor of the latest nameless victim, take the “Leaping Bunny Pledge” to buy only cruelty-free products: http://www.leapingbunnypledge.org/pledge.aspx

*I have used quotation marks around the words “science” and “religion” throughout this article, where applicable, because I do not believe that torture has a place in actual science or religion.

(Original pub date:  March 29th, 2009 (Cruelty-Free))