Making the world safer

When Dianne Feinstein starts wading in the partisan political waters, she as icky as the next politician. When she puts her head down and does her job, I often like her:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California proposed legislation Friday to crack down on animal rights activists who make threats or commit violence against people engaged in research using animals.

The bill, which the Democrat introduced with Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, would toughen federal criminal penalties for causing physical harm to people or making threats to researchers or their families. It would also boost penalties for causing economic harm to companies or universities engaged in research using animals that are frequently destroyed in the course of lab work.

Proposed penalties in the bill, which is a modification of legislation Inhofe had previously offered, include life in prison for incidents in which someone is killed.

It’s unlikely the measure will reach the Senate floor this year, with just about a month left before Congress expects to recess for the fall campaign.

The killing of animals for research, along with nonlethal practices that activists say amount to animal torture, has spurred some to violence, including an August 2003 bombing outside the Emeryville laboratories of Chiron Corp., another bombing a month later at Shaklee Corp. in Pleasanton, ongoing threats against UCSF researchers and the firebombing this year of the home of a UCLA researcher.

“The deplorable actions of these eco-terrorists threaten to impede important medical progress in California and across the country,” Feinstein said in a statement Friday.

I hope this bill passes.  I strongly believe in treating animals humanely, and have had pets all my life (including a particularly loveable little dog right now), but I still recognize that they’re not people.  The eco-terrorists, who will cheerfully bomb a human being to save a chicken, have such perverse values they need to be reined in.