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28 January 2006 @ 11:20 pm
Science: 1 Ignorance: 0  
Or: I have fucking massive balls

I went to Oxford to see my girlfriend today. Took the train. Got into Oxford station about an hour early and waited around for her. Her and a friend met me, and we went to Coffee Republic for a caffeine hit.
Then the fun started.

We're sitting in the coffee den, drinking our beverages, when I look out of the window and realise that there's a hell of a lot of police around. "That's strange" I think to myself as I sip my espresso "Oxford hardly seems the place to require such a heavy police presence" and then I saw the reason. Placards held high, about fifty people were advancing towards us. As they got closer, I saw what their messages were and heard their chants. SPEAK. The animal rights organisation. Apparently protesting the new animal testing lab in Oxford (links to news article about one of their previous protests on the matter). With a majestic sweep, I donned my coat and flew out of the door followed by my companions, with the intent to score a victory for science. By this time, the protesters had marched past us, followed by police officers on foot and horse, and now us. Dismayed by their disregard for logic, I exclaimed boldly "Build the Oxford animal lab!" causing a few of the protesters to splinter off and start to verbally abusing me (heaven forbid they might actually attempt a logical argument for once). I remained calm despite the cries of "torturer" at me and carried on speaking my protest until they had moved on sufficiently. Mind racing, I turned back and started walking, finding myself in front of a Unicef booth, and engaged in a civilised discussion about the merits of scientific progress with the booth operators (who, I might add, were delightful people), and then signed their petition.

We wandered around Oxford town center for a while, and chanced upon the protesters again, this time with them disturbing the peace by using bullhorns to dismiss the experiments as "torture". That was it- enough was enough. The three of us went to a stationery store, bought an A2 piece of card and marker pen, and made a placard of our own.
Sign in hand, we walked calmly to the high street, stood opposite the crowd of protesters and I proudly raised it above my head. In an instant, activists were storming towards me, irate that I would have the audacity to exercise my right to free speech, and began to berate me. One man, who had a pungent odour to him, thrusts his face in front of mine and demands to know if I would "torture" his dog (which he had on a leash to his right). I calmly begin to reply, but he cuts me off and demands to know again. I begin to inform him that that's exactly what I'm trying to explain to him, but I am cut off again by his screams of indignance. At this point, a police officer steps in (noticing I'm about to be assaulted by this enraged gentleman) and asks him to step back, and relates to me that I should probably wait until they have the reinforcements to better deal with the protests. I, of course, oblige and decide to come back in a half hour.

We wandered around for a while, looking in a few shops, and after about half an hour has passed, we return to the demonstration site, and consult the police Sergeant as to how we can proceed. He advises conducting our protest a bit down the street from SPEAK's one, and we agree this to be the best course of action. My two companions and I take up place opposite a christian band and resume our silent protest, simply standing and holding our cheap little sign. On the whole, the response was extremely positive, with Oxford university students cheering our efforts at sanity and many people taking photos of us. After about three-quarters of an hour, we're approached by a woman pushing a bike who introduces herself as a reporter from BBC Radio Oxford who is covering the protest, and would like to know what we're doing. I inform her of our cause (which she records on her digital audio recorder) and she seems intrigued. So intrigued, in fact, that I'm going to be contacted soon regarding an being in a debate for BBC Radio Oxford over animal testing. Shortly after she leaves, a man and his wife approach us. They're both about sixty and look like perfectly normal people, until the man opens his mouth and starts screaming that we're "excrement" and "an embarrassment to the human race". Our response runs along the lines of "Well, of course you're entitled to your opinion" and "I beg to differ, but respect your views". For some reason, he rejected my offer of a friendly hand-shake. Shortly after this, the main protest group moves on and we decide to take a break.

Sometime later, we run into the demonstration again, and decide to make another protest in favour of science nearby. It's not long before five or six activists approach us, and purporting out views to be erroneous (although in a somewhat less eloquent manner). They stand simply shouting at us for a few seconds, when suddenly a woman of at least forty years grabs my sign and attempts to wrest it from my grasp. I ask her politely but firmly not to, but she remains adamant and manages to tear a corner from it, shouting "Ha!" and fleeing with her accomplices. We waited around for approximately an hour after this, again receiving much admiration and congratulations from the passing members of the public, as well as a little abuse from SPEAK members. Eventually, cold and exhausted, we retired to bask in the glory of our clear-cut victory over the crudeness and ignorance of the protesters.

I find it amusing that three teenagers with £1.98 can pull in more public support, and maintain more composure, than two hundred adults with thousands of pounds to spend on their protest.
malvinomalvino on January 28th, 2006 11:34 pm (UTC)
malvinomalvino on January 28th, 2006 11:35 pm (UTC)
Well, apart from that next time the nutters will kill you http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-2014798,00.html
(no subject) - sqrrl101 on January 28th, 2006 11:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - binflaggle on January 30th, 2006 03:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - malvino on January 30th, 2006 04:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - binflaggle on January 30th, 2006 05:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
incubai on January 28th, 2006 11:36 pm (UTC)
I think you should have got chairs and a flag. FTW. Wonderful tale my friend.
Laurie Pycroftsqrrl101 on January 28th, 2006 11:39 pm (UTC)
Chairs would have been nice, but I think with just a crappy A2 banner, we made a much more powerful point. We let the facts speak, not some bleeding-heart picture of an animal.
almighty_ethong on January 28th, 2006 11:40 pm (UTC)
it was beautiful..

i fucking love you man <3
Laurie Pycroftsqrrl101 on January 28th, 2006 11:43 pm (UTC)
I don't blame ya.
(Deleted comment)
Laurie Pycroftsqrrl101 on January 29th, 2006 12:00 am (UTC)
"You're excrement"
"I beg to differ" *sprays*
"That sounds like a pretty intimidating scream to me" *sprays"
"Yeah, I get scared by loud shouting" *sprays*
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on January 29th, 2006 01:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sqrrl101 on January 29th, 2006 09:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sqrrl101 on January 30th, 2006 09:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
Laurie Pycroftsqrrl101 on January 29th, 2006 12:38 pm (UTC)
Certainly. I was actually planning on taking a trip to London to do some protesting at some point, probably supporting animal testing (although I feel strongly about a few things, so I'm not sure). You're welcome to join in on that.
(Anonymous) on January 29th, 2006 12:45 pm (UTC)
You truly are a hero to the people of Oxford! You've got to organise another "pro-test"... see if you can get more people than SPEAK can... I'm sure you'll be able to!
Laurie Pycroftsqrrl101 on January 29th, 2006 12:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Hero!
Hmm... I may well have to do that. I'm sure we'll get more public support that SPEAK, too (also, love the "pro-test" pun).
Emmyxcupidxstuntx on January 29th, 2006 05:23 pm (UTC)
Once again, great idea L.
(Anonymous) on January 29th, 2006 05:57 pm (UTC)
Fuckin' ace, man, fuckin' ace. Truly an inspiration.
Laurie Pycroftsqrrl101 on January 29th, 2006 07:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I do my best.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on January 30th, 2006 03:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on January 29th, 2006 06:30 pm (UTC)
try asking how much the cool posters are whilst pointing at the "genuine photos of animals under testing" - gets a great response!
(Anonymous) on January 29th, 2006 06:59 pm (UTC)
i wish i could have joined ...
i work infront of the development, yes on thursdays they scream outside my window. unfortunately, due to an incident last year when i was revising for finals i have been "advised" to stay as clear from them and avoid further confrontation ... my crime according to the guy that almost assaulted me didn't get a leaflet ... i rest my case
Re: i wish i could have joined ... - sqrrl101 on January 29th, 2006 07:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on January 30th, 2006 01:38 am (UTC)
As an oxford student irritated beyond comprehension by these guys, THANK YOU.

I'd also like to point out they all wear leather shoes.

The second thing I'd like to point out is that if they protest to "sicko torturers" cutting up animals, maybe they should be denied the services of the "sicko torturers" at the NHS who trained that way...
Laurie Pycroftsqrrl101 on January 30th, 2006 06:24 am (UTC)
Many wouldn't even be here if it weren't for medical techniques pioneered by "sicko torturers" which were present at their births or throughout their lives.
Thanks for the support.
(no subject) - binflaggle on January 30th, 2006 03:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on January 30th, 2006 09:50 am (UTC)
I absolutely, 100% support what you're doing- I am hoping to organise a pro animal testing march of my own at some point! They really are abusive idiots, aren't they... not only are they wrong, but they're also violent. G-d forbid they ever get cancer, y'know, or they'd have to withold all treatment on principle... oh wait, no, they'd be gobbling down those pills like hypocrites.

"Smash" the animal testing lab indeed. Nice to see they were trying to destroy your property (sign) too- way to support your freedom of speech.

Take care and well done!
Laurie Pycroftsqrrl101 on January 30th, 2006 09:55 am (UTC)
It's funny how resolute these people can be in their views, until the point when someone actually calls them on it, or they have to make a personal sacrifice. You're more than welcome on the Pro-Test marches that I'll be organising (stay tuned on this blog for more info).
Re: HURRAH - (Anonymous) on January 30th, 2006 10:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: HURRAH - sqrrl101 on January 30th, 2006 11:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on January 30th, 2006 10:48 am (UTC)
Well done!!!
Congratulations!!! I've never managed more than having a weekly discussion with these guys, which usually ended up with them ranting at me, calling me a murderer, torturer (just after they ran out of arguments, i.e. a bout 30 seconds), nevermind that the only organism I've ever tortured is E.Coli...

I really wish OUSU would do something constructive like organising a big Pro-Lab demo!
Laurie Pycroftsqrrl101 on January 30th, 2006 10:57 am (UTC)
Re: Well done!!!
Torturing poor, helpless E-Coli? You sound pretty evil!

I will be organising some demonstrations in favour of the lab, and it'd be great if OUSU could get in on it. The site should be bought and running by this evening or tomorrow.
Re: Well done!!! - (Anonymous) on January 30th, 2006 11:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Well done!!! - sqrrl101 on January 30th, 2006 01:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on January 30th, 2006 10:53 am (UTC)
bloody awesome.
you should publicise this properly, majority of the students i know would have joined you on your protest. do another one, we could get the whole university involved and piss the hell out of the SPEAK losers.
Laurie Pycroftsqrrl101 on January 30th, 2006 10:56 am (UTC)
Re: bloody awesome.
I've just made an organisation called Pro-Test, and the website will be up either later today or tomorrow hopefully. When it is, I'll link to it here. I'll be organising a pro-lab march around Oxford.
aliiynaliiyn on January 30th, 2006 05:12 pm (UTC)
My boyfriend and I passed you on the Saturday and you made our day. Thank you for proving that it is not just luddite idiots who hold protests in Oxford :)
Laurie Pycroftsqrrl101 on January 30th, 2006 08:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks. If you'd like to participate in the next one, details are at the new site: http://www.pro-test.org.uk/
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on January 31st, 2006 04:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on February 1st, 2006 12:43 pm (UTC)
Well done for speaking out. It looks like a lot more people are going to join you. It is about time the silent majority that support legitimate animal experimentation stand up to these so-called animal rights activists.