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UCLA neuroscientist receives threatening package apparently sent by militant animal-rights group


UCLA neuroscientist J. David Jentsch received a package containing razor blades and a threatening note this month, the university confirmed Tuesday. According to a statement from UCLA, both university police and the FBI are investigating the incident, as well as another claim from a militant animal-rights group that it sent a similar package to a graduate student researcher who works in Jentsch's laboratory. There is no evidence to suggest that the latter package was received.

A group called the Justice Department has claimed responsibility for the incident and alleged in a statement that the razor blades were tainted with the blood of an AIDS-infected person. That statement, posted on a website maintained by the group Animal Liberation Front, accused Jentsch of "addicting primates to phencyclidine known on the streets as PCP and other street drugs using grant money from the federal government."

On its website, the ALF distanced itself from the Justice Department, stating that the latter group doesn't adhere to the ALF's principles of "avoiding harm to all animals, including human ones, and [instead] adopted guidelines more similar to those of the Animal Rights Militia (ARM)."

Jentsch uses vervet monkeys in experiments that have "provided critical insights into the biochemical processes that contribute to methamphetamine addiction and tobacco dependence in teens and the cognitive disabilities affecting behavior, speech and reasoning in schizophrenia patients," UCLA's statement continued. Jentsch -- who organized a rally on campus in favor of animal experimentation last year after his car was set on fire, allegedly by opponents of biomedical research on animals -- has said that animal testing is necessary to save human lives

Learn more about the incident at The Times' local news blog, L.A. Now.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Jentsch in an April 2009 demonstration in support of animal experimentation at UCLA. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

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"On its website, the ALF distanced itself from the Justice Department..."

I am sorry, but they did not do any such thing. In fact, the so-called press officers of the Animal Liberation Front clearly support these criminal actions as they write:

"Anyone who condemns the tactics of the Justice Department from a moral standpoint only professes their speciesism, unless they also deny the usefulness of force in human struggles against racism, including the successful struggles against slavery in this country and Apartheid in South Africa. Indeed, every successful struggle against oppression, both historically and concurrently, has required the use of stringent force against the oppressor, who seldom if ever relinquishes his power and ceases his exploitation of those he enslaves without being forced to do so."

It cannot be any clearer. They will force their views onto the rest of society by violent methods.

Some editing required:

1) "Apparently sent"?!

They claim credit for the attack in their own web-site. The package was received and confirmed by UCPD and the FBI. There is nothing "apparent"about the story. This is a fact.

2) "Animal rights group"?

Please replace with "animal rights terrorists". They clearly state they intend to achieve the goals of their movement by means of force, violence and threats. They justify these tactics in their web sites. By definition, this is terrorism. The ALF is rightfully considered a domestic terrorist organization by the FBI.

My objection to tactics like this is that they are counterproductive -- casting the victimizer as victim. Jentsch insists "animal testing is necessary to save human lives" but where is the proof that his research has had any benefit to anyone but himself? Who wouldn't like to live off fat federal grants without ever having to provide results?

There is also a valid argument to be made that UCLA's zeal to addict monkeys to drugs, including both PCP and nicotine (in a study funded by none other than Philip Morris -- certainly well-known foes of nicotine addiction...) is completely immoral.

According to UCLA's online bio of Jentsch, "His research focuses on genetic and neurochemical mechanisms that influence cognition, impulse control and decision-making in laboratory animals." But the simple fact is these imprisoned monkeys never DECIDED to become addicted to deadly poisons. They were forcibly addicted to them. The difference between humans and other animals is that only humans deliberately choose to repeatedly perform actions they know full well will kill them. Monkeys are a lot smarter than that. Yes, an addict will continue to try to ingest the substance to which they are addicted, that's common sense that any literate fifteen year-old could tell you (thus hardly requiring the torture of monkeys to prove). Therefore no amount of forcibly addicting monkeys to drugs will answer the real question, which is why some HUMANS insist on deciding, of their own free will, to take drugs to which any moron can tell them they will fast become addicted. You cannot answer this with Jentsch's research because the monkeys don't CHOOSE to become addicts, Jentsch forces them to become addicted. Then he gets to sit back and observe addicted monkeys continuing to ingest the addictive substance and act like it's some discovery that addicts continue to take the drug. The real question is why the Federal government keeps giving our money to such a fraudulent project.

Deciding to start taking drugs, which is, let's face it, the only way to become addicted to them, is a completely voluntary act by humans. Why should monkeys be forced to suffer imprisonment, pain, fear and torturous addiction because some humans refuse to stop deliberately ingesting poisons? It's not like anyone living now didn't know well before the first puff that cigarettes are both deadly and addictive. No one held a gun to their heads to start smoking or doing PCP, they chose it with their eyes open. Ditto for any other addictive drug, including alcohol. Why should one monkey ever have to suffer because humans deliberately decide to be stupid?

The world already knows all about addiction . Jentsch and his cohorts have malice on their minds and money in their pockets . The pseudo research they do is adding nothing to useful knowledge . These vivisectors should practice compassion instead of dissection . Prevent addiction through teaching, don't force addiction upon beings who naturally avoid it . Save men, don't torture monkeys , you know your horrible repetitive tortures upon animals never applies to humans .

The results obtained in animal tests are not secure.

While I don't agree with some of the tactics used to by certain animal rights groups, I don't believe this researcher is being unfairly singled out. His methods are barbaric to say the least, and perhaps this is the only way to bring attention to this outrage disquised as science. Its junk science, intended to line his pockets. (Off topic, but what is going on with this dude's eyebrows? He looks like some sort an alien or a treky. Yuk!)


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