moments beforehand I had received this email:
I hope someone does to your baby what you do to your mice.
was in and of itself highly educational.
If you read the comments after that post, you will see a great deal of horror and outrage from Isis' readership that their beloved Goddess is subject to such a missive.
This is another teaching moment, apparently. Because this should not be news to anyone...and yet unfortunately it is.
So, my dear friends of Isis- yes, animal researchers receive this sort of thing quite frequently. All of us? No, of course not. So many scientists who use animals themselves are unaware of what can and does happen. First and foremost it is the PI of the laboratory at which such attacks are generally directed and your PI may simply delete them without comment to the rest of the staff. For sure s/he is not going to tell each and every member who joins the laboratory about the flurry of emails received in a hate campaign ten years ago. Likewise, the individual PI is not necessarily motivated to instantly inform all and sundry within the field (i.e., her colleagues) about the low level stuff. "What's to be gained?" is the thought.
Another important point is the perception of model-specificity. Without doubt people that use the USDA regulated species come under fire more frequently than do those that use the Helms Amendment species or invertebrates. This attention is in inverse proportion to the number of investigators working with a given species, which is obviously not good for awareness either.
Well, I've been thinking (and discussing with some people in another venue) about what has been lost, because of this tendency not to publicize the low- to mid-level annoyance/threat events directed at individual scientists. What has been lost is concern, support and urgency for dealing with ARA extremist attacks on scientists. As occasional commenter Cleveland observed on a prior post:
First they came for the nonhuman primate researchers and I didn't speak up, because I do not work with monkeys.
Then they came for the electrophysiologists and medical school physiology labs, and I didn't speak up, because I do not work with "pet" species.
Then they came for the rodent researchers and I didn't speak up, because I do not work with mammals.
Then they came for the fruit-fly researchers, but by that time there was nobody left to speak up for me.
(with apologies to Pastor Martin Niemoeller)
Of course, this comment was in the context of discussing the UCSC attacks which were directed against researchers using mice and fruit flies, IIRC. From what I can tell this was somewhat positive since it made scientists who do not work with USDA species pause a bit and think that maybe the ARA extremist threat was closer to them then they previously thought.
So Isis posting that letter (which was pretty tame stuff within the genre) was a very good thing if some of her fans are finally realizing how pervasive this sort of low-level antagonism really is.