Monday, May 16, 2005

Animal Activists Attack Parkinson's Patient

Animal rights activists have become increasingly vocal, and ideologically extreme, over the past two decades. The most radical organizations, like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), denounce not only cruelty toward animals, hunting and the testing of cosmetics on animals, but rather any medical research involving animals, even if it can be shown to benefit human life. The radicalism of many animal rights activists has become such that they philosophically equate the moral value of a human life with that of a dog, cat, rat or monkey. Hence, to the radical animal liberationist, medical research involving, say, rats is morally equivalent to Dr. Mengele's cruel experiments in Nazi death camps. Hence even a Parkinson's patient, whose life has been remarkably improved through surgery perfected by animal research is an acceptable target for slander and abuse by demented animal rights zealots.
At a recent public meeting to discuss a proposed animal research centre in Oxford, 63-year-old [Mike] Robins was jeered and ridiculed when he tried to show how surgery, perfected through animal experiments, had transformed his life.

'I was bayed at,' said Robins, a retired naval engineer from Southampton. 'Several hundred people were shouting. Some called out "Nazi!", "bastard!" and "Why don't you roll over and die!" I tried to speak, but was shouted down. It was utterly terrifying.'

The attack has shocked even hardened observers of vivisection debates. 'I have seen many unpleasant things at these debates, but to scream at a middle-aged man with Parkinson's disease and then tell him he deserved to die is the worst I have observed,' said Simon Festing, director of the Research Defence Society, which defends the scientific use of animals for experimentation.

Prior to his surgery, Mr. Robins experienced the physical dehabilitation common to Parkinson's sufferers.

Before his illness, Robins, a retired businessman, admits he was suspicious of animal experiments. Then he developed a tremor in his right hand. Doctors diagnosed stress. Only months later did he find he had Parkinson's disease, a condition affecting one in 100 people over 60, that causes tremors, facial paralysis and eventually severe physical disability. His tremors worsened and his speech became slurred. Robins, who is married with four children, was given L-dopa, but found, as others have done, it had no effect.

Robins's life continued to disintegrate. 'It was difficult to walk. I couldn't go to the pub or restaurant. My right hand was bouncing all over the place. I got very depressed. Even my family found it hard to be with me.'

Fortunately for Mr. Robins, research on macaque monkeys had led scientists to develope a technique to quell the disease's tremors by "drilling into their brains to destroy their subthalamic nuclei, the brain centre responsible for the disease." Scientists had adapted that knowledge to human beings, permiting the introduction of electrodes to the subthalamic nuclei of patients' brains, allowing the patients to control their tremors with the flick of a switch implanted in their chests.

Now Robins has a panel sewn into his chest and uses a gadget like a TV remote to control his symptoms. When Robins switches the current on his incapacitating symptoms - waving right hand and shaking right leg - disappear instantly. It was this striking demonstration of medical science that Robins hoped to give last month but was blocked because the meeting had been packed by anti-vivisectionists. 'I want to show them what had been done for me but found myself in a room full of 250 people who were baying for my blood. The venom was horrific.'

After trying, unsuccessfully, to show how his implant worked, Robins sat down. 'A handful of middle-aged women, the type you would meet in Sainsbury's every day, were sitting behind me. They started hissing in my ear: "You Nazi bastard. That's what they did in concentration camps".'

Women like these form the core of the animal rights campaign, says Simon Festing. 'They are often well-dressed and middle-class, but are religious in their fanaticism... Accusing opponents of being Nazis is also a common tactic.' Robins tried again to speak but was drowned out.

Mr. Robins witnessed first hand both the extremist mentality and the mob mentality of the radical animal rights activists, whose techniques are common to all extreme movements, from Islamists to Christian fundamentalists, to communists, Marixts and racial fascists. But Mr. Robins, courageously, won't be silenced. He understands that permitting the radicals that victory would be a terrible loss, not just for himself, but for many others in his situation.

'It was if there had been a signal to shout me down. It was terrifying. On the other hand, I am not going to be silenced. Previous generations have had to go into war and be terrified before going into action. So just because I am being frightened by these activists is not a good enough excuse not to speak out. I will do this again.'


At 8:50 AM , Anonymous Parkinsons said...

Hi, appreciated your mentioning Parkinsons Symptom . I'm actually searching like crazy for information about Parkinsons Symptom. My aunt had it and I understand there is a genetic connection. Very scary, but hoping for the best .


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