When I talk to people about the primate labs and the horror the victims experience, they are often overcome with a sense of helplessness and futility. After all, almost 60,000 monkeys are attacked by U.S. scientists each year. Who could be expected to feel much hope or power?
But when people can connect with one victim, one particular monkey prisoner, they see that they might be able to make a difference, and the problem becomes more manageable. Now, as they write to a Primate Center or call them on the phone, the things they can ask are more personal. No longer do they have to discuss the entire subject of animal experimentation or try to become scientifically sophisticated; now they can call and ask what is happening to a particular monkey.
And this has always been the real point. This is the question the Primate Centers dread. They can always argue from the global perspective, but when someone asks them about a certain monkey, who was born on a certain date, and has a certain number tattooed on his or her chest, they can't answer globally. Now the researchers are forced to explain why hurting or killing one particular monkey is necessary and not an immoral and criminal act.
I hate my tag. I hate hearing it in the still of the night as I turn over, but more, I am sickened by what it represents. One day it will be impossible to print any more Primate Freedom Tags because the labs will be closed; maybe then I will get a good night's rest.