Baltimore Evening Sun (29 March 1912): 6.
From the report of the Municipal Commission’s special committee on illuminations during the convention:
* * * and that searchlights on the Hotel Belevedere and the Shot Tower be kept trained on the Fifth Regiment Armory during the sessions. The Fifth Regiment Armory your grandmother! The target for all spotlights and searchlights during that historic week, the cynosure of all eyes, the apex of all huzzahs and hallucinatious will be Room 1, Floor 2, of the City Hall!
What! Fire Jake! Never! Knock down the Washington Monument, wallop the Goddess of Liberty and tear the Star-Spangled Banner from its staff—but fire Joke? NEVER!
From political merry Andrews, and their attendant antics, punches and drolls—good Lord, deliver us!
The Anti-vivisectionists of England, with characteristic mendacity, now endeavor to make it appear that the recent report of the Royal Commission on Vivisection gave support to their ridiculous and lying attack upon scientific medicine. The truth is, of course, that it did nothing of the sort. On the contrary, its general conclusion was wholly favorable to intelligent research, and it had this to say of anti-vivisectionist actions:
We desire to state that the harrowing descriptions and illustrations of operations inflicted on animals, which are freely circulated by post, advertisement, or otherwise, are in many cases calculated to mislead the public, so far as they suggest that the animals in question were not under an anæsthetic. To represent that animals subjected to experiments in this country are wantonly tortured would, in our opinion, be absolutely false.
Going further, the commission agreed that experiments on animals were “morally justifiable and should not be prohibited by leglislation,” and laid it down that “valuable knowledge has been acquired in regard to physiological processes and the causation of disease, and that useful methods for the prevention, cure and treatment of certain diseases have resulted from experimental investigations upon living animals.” And yet the Hon. Stephen Coleridge, grand master of the English Anti-Vivisection Society, hails the report as “a striking and triumphant vindication of the struggle carried on by the society.”
On what ground does the honorable gentleman base this absurd exultation? On the ground, it would appear, that the commission declared itself, at least by implication, against the wanton torture of animals. But is any such wanton torture carried on in the laboratories of England? Is it a fact, in brief, that animals are butchered in cold blood by ferocious pathologists, merely for the fun of it and without any benefit to man? Of course not. This charge has been made constantly by the anti-vivisectionists of England, just as it has been made constantly by the anti-vivisectionists of America, but the report of the commission, as might have been expected, showed that there is no truth in it whatever.
The trouble with the anti-vivisectionists to that their animus against all scientific medicine, regardless of the dependence upon expertmentation, is too, too evident. If they confined themselves to protesting against needless and over-cruel experiments every decent person, perhaps, would be with them, but they always go to the extreme of protesting against all experiments, however great and obvious their value. And, in order to justify that protest they must needs deny that value. That is to say, they must set up shop as destructive critics of the whole of modern medicine—as expert witnesses capable of controverting and flabbergasting such opposing experts as Ehrlich and Wright, Flexner and Welch.
Naturally enough, this preposterous effort does them far more damage than good. It is very difficult, in the present year of grace, to convince any wholly sane man that such things as the diphtheria, meningitis and tetanus antitoxins, the typhoid, smallpox and hydrophobia vaccines, the salvarsan of Dr. Ehrlich, and the revolutionary achievements of modern surgery are all useless and evil. He knows better. He himself, perhaps, has seen these things in operation, to his own relief or that or his friends, and if he hasn’t, then he is at least content to take the word of those who have, and in particular, the word of those who are best fitted, by education and experience, to judge the matter. In brief, he believes, on the soundest conceivable grounds, that such a man as Dr. Welch knows vastly more about medicine than the average corn-fed osteopath or Christian Science healer-grafter, or patent medicine quack, and so he is willing to accept Dr. Welch’s opinion.
Thus it happens that when the anti-vivisectionists undertake to prove that Dr. Welch is a fraud or an ignoramous they thereby lose the support of all persons of normal intelligence. But by the same token, they also draw to their banner all those persons whose intelligence is insufficient to distinguish between Dr. Welch’s exact knowledge and a quack’s empty balderdash. Therefore, you will find, if you look into the matter carefully, that the anti- vivisectionist movement, in this country as in England, tends to fall more and more into the hands of obvious foes of reason—that is to say, into the hands of persons who start out with the assumption that the liver is a mere delusion of the mind, or that massage will cure tuberculosis, or that Peruna is a certain specific for malaria.
With what result? With the result that the whole movement takes on the absurdity and borrows the chronic mendacity of such gladiators of nonsense. And with the secondary result that it becomes increasingly inadvisable, in the absence of overwhelming correlative proof, to accept any statement made by an anti-vivisectionist rabble-rouser. I do not say that all of these gentry are professional liars, for some of them, I believe, are merely credulous persons misled by those who are, but I do say that a campaign of incessant misrepresentation and slander, of indecent attack upon honest and useful men and women, of silly affirmations and ludicrous denials, now underlies the whole anti-vivisectionist propaganda.
It is well for the public to bear all this in mind. It is well for it to remember clearly, when sobs for boiled guinea pigs shake the air, that such sobs are too often evidence, not of any altruistic desire to save the guinea pigs, but of a purely selfish desire, on the part of some patron or toreador of quackery, to discomfit and discredit the men whom honorable labor stands between us and disease, and so work his own stupid satistaction or personal profit.
Only 17 days more of labor in the literary trenches! Then, barring some foul deed of malicious animal magnetism, the grand escape!