On Saturday the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) will hold a star-studded gala to celebrate 20 years of presenting dodgy animal-rights dogma as mainstream medical advice — while accepting enormous sums of money from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PCRM has consistently disparaged meat and dairy foods as "unhealthy" and "addictive," while demonizing life-saving medical research that requires the use of lab animals as "unnecessary." All week long we’ll be exploring this misnamed "Physicians Committee" in preparation for Saturday’s vegetarian love-fest.
Today we begin with a new-and-improved profile of PCRM, expanded coverage of its personnel, a list of "7 things you didn’t know" about this deceptive group, and a look at its relationship with violent animal-rights extremists. Dr. Jerry Vlasak is one of the few actual physicians to speak up on behalf of PCRM, but the group has rewarded him by inserting the proverbial ten-foot-pole between itself and the good doctor. In a February 2002 press release, PCRM called Vlasak a "PCRM spokesperson." But you won’t find that characterization on PCRM’s website anymore. Sometime in late 2004, the group retroactively edited its press release to strike the entire paragraph including Vlasak’s comments. [Click here to see an archive of the original.]
Why did PCRM’s former front-man suddenly become "Jerry who?" He spoke his mind — and it wasn’t pretty. When Vlasak addressed the "Animal Rights 2003" convention in Los Angeles (where he was described in the official program as a PCRM representative), he openly endorsed the murder of doctors who use lab rats and other animals in their research:
If these vivisectors were being targeted for assassination, and call it political assassination or what have you … I think that strictly from a fear and intimidation factor, that would be an effective tactic. And I don’t think you’d have to kill — assassinate — too many vivisectors before you would see a marked decrease in the amount of vivisection going on. And I think for 5 lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human lives. [Click here to hear audio.]
When he’s not in Canada getting into fistfights with seal hunters, Vlasak represents the terrorist Animal Liberation Front (ALF) as a self-described "press officer." He’s also a frequent presence at protest events related to the violent SHAC campaign ("SHAC" stands for Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty). Seven of SHAC’s U.S. leaders are scheduled to go on trial in June for violating federal terrorism laws.
One of the so-called "SHAC 7" defendants is Kevin Kjonaas, a former ALF "spokesman" who’s fond of comparing animal-rights criminals with Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Perhaps PCRM president Neal Barnard overlooked this grandiosity when he co-signed a series of letters with Kjonaas shortly after 9-11. In SHAC’s name, the letters told pharmaceutical executives in 32 states and 7 foreign countries to quit doing business with a company that uses lab animals in drug research. With its history of fire-bombing automobiles, smashing windows, assaulting research employees, and targeting victims with ’round-the-clock harassment and intimidation, SHAC’s advice carried all the intimidating weight of a greeting card from the Ku Klux Klan. And it came neatly typed on PCRM letterhead.
PCRM has never commented publicly about these letters, perhaps because they represent the tip of a very disquieting iceberg. Shortly after the federal government indicted Kevin Kjonaas on terrorism charges, he relinquished the presidency of SHAC — to Jerry Vlasak’s wife. Her name is Pamelyn Ferdin, and she also carries a PCRM business card.
As the SHAC movement causes untold havoc in the United States and Great Britain, the question of its funding has puzzled experts on both sides of the Atlantic. In this country, few SHAC donors have emerged publicly; one is Nanci Alexander, the ex-wife of Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander. Between 2001 and 2002, the Alexanders’ family foundation made $3,500 in grants to SHAC USA, a group the United States Department of Justice considers a "domestic terror threat." [Click here and here to see the Alexander Foundation’s tax returns, and scroll down to the last page.]
PCRM president Neal Barnard announced last week that Nanci Alexander would be receiving his group’s first "Art of Compassion" award. "Nanci Alexander," Barnard said in a press release, "is a role model of compassion for animals and for people."
We’ve just scratched the surface of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a deceptive organization in league with some of the most unsavory and violent fanatics in the modern animal-rights movement. How does "compassion" jive with Sam Jacobs, a PCRM doctor who publicly thanked the arson-happy Animal Liberation Front at a 2002 animal-rights convention? How much compassion does it take to distribute op-ed columns co-authored by a former spokesman for a fringe group whose other leaders are linked to not one but two federal arson investigations?
Join us tomorrow for a look at PCRM’s jihad against milk, cheese, and all things dairy.