Everyone had high hopes that opening a communication channel with opponents of research would allow us to discuss these matters in a civil and fruitful manner. All those involved know it took much effort and time to organize this an encounter. As a first step, our goal was simply to explore if we could establish a dialogue with each other.
There were several important obstacles along the way. In particular, in the couple of weeks leading into the event, my colleague Dr. David Jentsch and I suffered from the constant harassment and threats of animal activists at our homes and those originating from animal rights extremists web sites.
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It was during this period that we explained the co-organizers that it may not be possible to hold our event under such conditions and requested them to issue a public statement in this regard. Representatives from Bruin for Animals along with Dr. Greek responded with a commentary condemning these attacks which we welcomed and deemed sufficient to proceed.
The panel discussion transpired with civility and was by all measures a success... or so we thought for a few days, when the constant harassment and threats resumed. This time around, animal rights activists promised to target my children because of my speech in support of animal research. Today, after our honest effort to enter into an ongoing dialogue, we find ourselves subject to targeted demonstrations at our residences whose only purpose is to intimidate and threaten our families.
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In the closing statements of our panel discussion I made it extremely clear that unless the threats and harassment stopped there would be no reason for us to continue our face to face conversations. If animal right activists want to be taken seriously as a partner in dialogue by the rest of society they need to reign in those that impede this process. In the panel, I offered my view that the the animal rights movement had reached a fork in the road. Dialogue, debate, harassment and threats cannot coexist together. We offered you the opportunity to open many doors and have your voices heard. So far, it seems the animal rights community has picked the wrong path.
Finally, I have posted the formal invitation that was sent to Dr. Greek and all other panelists to participate in the event at UCLA. We had indeed expressed much hope for the development of future meetings. Yet, there was no promise that I (we) would personally debate Dr. Greek on his ideas about “prediction”. If he received any such promise, it was not from any of us.