Episode | Originally Aired:

April 14, 2011

In this edition, two takes on our cherished right to free speech. First, it's a conflict with no resolution in sight. On one side, scientists who experiment on animals. On the other, animal rights activists who believe that no animal should ever be harmed. But how far can activists go before their right to free speech threatens the scientists and their work? Next, we see the issue of free speech played out on the streets of Hollywood, where business owners are pitted against costumed characters, and tourists are caught in the crossfire. It's the battle of the boulevard.

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I don't support the extreme tactics of those animal activists. They should confront UCLA for its lack of transparency (and not just to monitor humane standards). Animals used in research mean big money for universities-the money we've provided through our taxes. According to SPECIOUS SCIENCE, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the federal agency charged with the responsibility for allocating taxpayer-generated funds for biomedical research. The most frequent NIH grant—the R01 “investigator initiated” grant—supports both the researcher and the institution where the research is employed. In some cases, the institution receives more money from the grant than the researcher, which it can use at its discretion, whether that means paying the electricity bill or an English teacher’s salary. Since most overhead is brought into the university by a small number of research professors, proposals to reduce research output are not looked on with favor by many university administrators.discretion, whether that means paying the electricity bill or an English teacher’s salary.
When the president of the Institute of Medicine cautioned that medical research was leaning too heavily on basic animal experiments and not doing enough to support clinical observation, he likened it to the tale of the emperor’s new clothes. No one dares call attention to the matter, for fear of direct or indirect retribution. From the standpoint of self-preservation, it’s far more prudent to remain silent. And, allow needless repetition of animal-based experimentation. Researchers and universities are not the only ones who profit from animal models. In fact, animal use in biomedical research is a multi-billion dollar business. Animal breeders profit handsomely from the practice.
Then there is the question of whether animal experiments represent good science. Often the results don't extrapolate to humans-with disastrous results. UCLA should follow the example of the European Union, which mandates scientists there to reduce and replace animals in experiments.