Merry Olde England
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1998:
LONDON––With a bill to ban fox hunting approved by
Parliament 411-151 on first vote back on November 28, 1997, but
apparently unlikely to advance due to partisan maneuvering, both cornered
defenders of the status quo and some frustrated activists have
turned from debating the issues to merely trying to muzzle each other.
The Royal SPCA for the second straight spring is fighting a
takeover push led by the British Field Sports Society and Country
Sports Animal Welfare Group, who claimed last year that they had
encouraged about 3,000 hunters to join, in hopes of dismantling
RSPCA opposition to hunting. The British Charities Commission has
advised the RSPCA that it cannot exclude hunters from purchasing voting
membership. Members must join by January 31 each year to be
able to vote at the May annual meeting.
The Charities Commission in 1996 forced the RSPCA to
withdraw two policy statements of opposition to animal use in biomedical
research, and this year forced it to drop a Declaration on Animal
Rights which had been official policy since 1977.
“Inasmuch as there is ample evidence that many animal
species are capable of feeling,” the declaration said, “we condemn
totally the infliction of suffering upon our fellow creatures and the curtailment
of their behavioral and other needs save where this is necessary
for their own individual benefit. We do not accept that a difference
in species alone (any more than a difference in race) can justify
wanton exploitation or oppression in the name of science or sport, or
for use as food, for commercial profit, or for other human gain.”
Replacing those words in the 1998 RSPCA policy pamphlet
are these: “Readers should be aware of the contstraints placed by current
charity law on all animal welfare charities. They cannot pursue
policies which, while benefiting animals, would have a detrimental
effect on humankind. Further, they cannot oppose uses of animals for
which there are no alternatives but which may cause pain, suffering or
distress, and where there is an overriding benefit to humans. All policy
statements which follow should be read in that context.”
The War At Sea
The Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society, one of the most
prominent British marine mammal protection organizations, was
meanwhile rapped on January 21 by the Advertising Standard
Authority, which acted in response to a complaint by John Dineley.
Describing himself as “a consultant in animal behavior and
welfare,” Dineley is described by WDCS director of campaigns Chris
Stroud as “an active member of the International Marine Animal
Trainers Association, specifically serving as regional subcommittee
chair for the Legislation, Information, and Policies Committee.”
In 1992 Dineley complained to the Broadcasting Complaints
Commission about alleged inaccuracies in Into The Blue, a documentary
about the September 1991 release of the dolphins Rocky, Missie,
and Silver off the Turks and Caicos Islands by a consortium of animal
protection organizations including the Born Free Foundation, Bellerive
Foundation, and the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
Each had spent about 20 years in captivity: Rocky at Marineland of
Morecambe in northern England, Missie and Silver at the Brighton
Aquarium in southern England. None are known to have survived their
release for even as long as a month. The BCC agreed with Dineley on
six of 12 points.
This time Dineley complained about a WDCS newspaper ad
“aimed,” it said, “to stop the capture and use of orca whales in marine
parks around the world.” Further text added, “Despite countless
protests, 52 killer whales are still being held captive throughout the
world for so-called entertainment purposes.”
The ASA agreed that the ad misleadingly implied that “donations
would fund a new killer whale release project,” and that “the
advertisement implied wrongly that all 52 killer whales in captivity
around the world were kept only for entertainment
The skirmishing turned violent––
again––when British Association for the
Advancement of Science president Colin
Blakemore was attacked by two women at a
lecture in London during the second week of
January. The women broke glass vases on the
stage and hit Blakemore with a chair.
A week later, while Blakemore was
at work, a masked mob of about 20 people
attacked his home with bricks and bottles,
terrorizing his wife, his 83-year-old motherin-law,
and a visiting professor.
“They smashed all the windows on
the ground floor and some on first floor,”
Blakemore told Michael Fleet of the London
Daily Telegraph. They also vandalized the
visiting professor’s car.
As many as 200 people stormed the
Blakemore home on a previous occasion.
Two of Blakemore’s children unwittingly
took delivery of a shrapnel bomb disguised as
a Christmas gift in 1993. The bomb was discovered
before it could detonate.
An Oxford University physiologist,
Blakemore came to public notice in 1972 for
sewing shut the eyes of kittens and monkeys.
Today, he says, he works mainly with tissue
samples, but he remains a prominent defender
of vivisection. In 1996 Blakemore almost
simultaneously formed the European Dana
Alliance for the Brain, to lobby European
governments for research funding, and joined
wildlife rehabilitator Les Ward of Advocates
for Animals and the Rev. Kenneth Boyd,
director of the Institute of Medical Ethics at
Edinburgh University, to form the Boyd
Group, whose goal is to promote discussion
of animal rights issues in a civil atmosphere.