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17 March 2012

Posted by DMC on 22 March 2012 in Diary |

There were two issues in articles in The Times over the last couple of days that ‘my lovely’ cut out for me to read , as they are both matters about which we both have strong views.

The first concerned experimenting on animals, testing out new drugs etc in the interest of research. It is well known that primates, gorillas, monkeys etc,. share 98% of DNA with humans and therefore, are prima facie ideal guinea pigs for general research on the effects of humans. This not only includes testing drugs but also clinical procedures beneficial to humans. In his book The Cost and Benefits of Animal Experiments, Andrew Night an eminent bioethicist and veterinarian, points out that only 2 out of 20 reviews concluded that using animals for clinical procedures had been beneficial to humans and even then one of these was controversial. With the amount of shared DNA, between humans and primates, it would be surprising, if given the millions of tests carried out on primates had not correctly predicted the human response but as the author of this book says ‘it is clear that animal research is highly inefficient means of attempting to advance human health care’.

Using animals for research has been a battle fought between the protesters and researchers for many years. The Humane Society International, is working with expert from academia and industry within the EU, to find animal alternatives for testing and research. Quite apart from the medical procedures carried out on these animals when they reached the laboratories there is the cruelty aspect of catching them and transporting them cramped up in cargo crates to the various laboratories.

It is common knowledge that such experiments are not restricted to primates, dogs and cats and rabbits are also used. These animals are subjected to countless invasive procedures, some of which are undoubtedly frightening and very painful. Here, Alice and I are firmly on the side of the protesters.

I like so many other sufferers from MND; Parkinson’s diseases; cancer; multiple sclerosis and similar other terminal illness are naturally more interested in finding a cure than the average man in the street but, I would suggest, that only if it can be shown that using animals in their research can only be done without submitting those animals to pain and suffering and what’s more the advantage of using such animals would have to be significantly higher than other alternatives.

The pro-lobby for such experiments claim that many of these animals lack intelligence language or consciousness but experiments have shown that many of these animal species do indeed suffer from emotion and sensitivity.

In her article in last Saturday’s Times, Jane Goodall pointed out, most notably during the Nazi carer in Europe, the large number of potentially harmful experiments carried out on non-consenting humans but she questions whether this is really so different when we do this to other animals. Such experiments are morally and ethically unacceptable. Fortunately we are currently going through a transition and discovering ways of improving medical research that do not involve experimenting on animals. What attracted me to read this article in the first place was the title, writ large across five columns’ So much animal pain, so little human gain’, this is a matter on which ‘my lovely’ and I both feel passionately about and would urge other people who feel the same way to peaceably support those organisations who are against such animal testing.

The other issue that ‘my lovely’ and I feel strongly about, was also the subject of an article in The Times by William Rees-Mogg was on the subject of traditional marriage for the sake of children. This came about because our Prime Minister has asked for a period of consultation: on gay marriages and whether or not civil partnerships should be defined for legal purposes as ‘marriages. Personally I have no strong feelings about civil partnerships between two devoted human beings of the same sex with the concomitant advantages of tax and inheritance which might go with them. My objection, however, is to calling these civil partnerships marriage, which they clearly are not, as the Bible says marriage is convened for the purpose of procreation, which, apart from the incomprehensibly weird transvestite ‘males’ who get pregnant, is a physical impossibility, so why the need to call this marriage?

The main thrust of Rees-Mogg’s article concerns words. He says’ that words are immensely important to the development of religious beliefs’. The author had attended a service in the Farm Street Church where a pastoral letter was read out to the congregation explaining the Roman Catholic Church’s position on marriage which had been criticised as unfair in terms of implied discrimination against gay people. The Archbishop of Southwark, one of the participants in the discussion, in explaining his view of the pastoral letter said that “a change in the law (changing the legal definition of marriage) would gradually and inevitably transform societies understanding of the purpose of marriage. There will be no recognition of the complementary of male and female or that marriage is intended for the protection and education of children”

Rees-Mogg himself has no objection to those involved in a civil partnership calling it “marriage” but pointed out that last week he heard the strongest argument for traditional marriage from any government. Ian Duncan Smith, published a strategy on social justice that takes the view that children are indeed best reared in a stable marriage. I certainly would not disagree with that. The author says that the problem comes down to the best way to strengthen the role of marriage in our culture.

It is widely felt to be under attack as is religion in general, he then alluded to the issue of the woman banned from wearing a cross ├ít work and the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury has refused to support the wearing of a cross as a declaration of Christianity. Personally I find the Archbishop’s attitude incomprehensible as the head of the Christian church, in a Christian country.

Frankly I am disgusted with this radical approach and indeed a lack of our Prime Minister who, not so long ago is reputed to have ,said that this was not a Christian country but a multi-cultural one. We have seen, over the past few years, the banning of the short Christian service at the beginning of each school day and some schools going so far as to ban reference to Christmas per se for fear of giving offence to the 30 or 40 children in the school who come from different religious backgrounds. I have lived in four different countries and, wherever I was I assiduously observed their religious rules. removing my shoes, for example, before entering into their temples. Why on earth then can we not say quite clearly that this is a Christian country and our rules have to be observed, in much the same way as their rules are in other countries. People are free to worship as they please but accepting the fact that they do so in a Christian country. With people such as the Archbishop and Iain Duncan Smith having such strong voices against such observations, we have little hope in enforcing them. With this sort of attitude and the numbers of other religious sects growing steadily year by year then are we not possibly building up the situation where one day one or other of these sects. challenges our right to enforce Christian views and attempts to impose their own, such as the introduction of sharia law as has already been attempted.

Rees Mogg goes on to say that ‘same-sex ‘marriages’ have been adopted throughout most of Western Europe, but the attitude of church is that the welfare of children matters most, and that changing the defiition of marriage would be unhelpful for children. Whatever else the archbishop’s attitude may involve, it puts the interest of children first.’ Not wanting the doctrine of Christian churches to be progressively undermined by aggressive liberalism most traditional Christians, both Anglican and Catholic, oppose renaming marriage’ . Can it be, as the author suggests, ‘that Christian belief is under attack by people who wish to exploit the American doctrine of separation of Church and State to undermine the English Christian churches. They fear each further change will weaken Christian belief. They would rather wait and see if civil partnerships proved as stable as existing partnerships before they pass further legislation. They do not want the social commitment of the Christian churches reduced’. Rees Mogg concludes that ‘they may be wrong but their anxiety about progressive damage to religious faiths seems only too true of the churches in England.’

When I started to read this article under the bold heading Protect traditional marriage for children’s sake. I thought it was going to be about children needing a father and a mother and not two parents of the same sex, which to my mind is unnatural. I have no objection whatsoever for two persons of the same sex forming a loving, long-term relationship but I cannot accept that such a couple are ideal for adopting children and bringing them up to believe in traditional values. For this reason I am extremely disappointed in the Archbishop of Canterbury and his very liberal approach to this topic.

Good luck, Magdalene College, (my son’s Alma Mater) Cambridge, where I gather the Archbishop has recently agreed to become Master

Slightly, tongue in cheek, I invite you to click here, to see how important is the meaning of a word

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