Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pharmaceutical Executive Speaks Out Against Animal Rights Terrorists

This is a moral duty. He has paid a high personal price.

Many patient direct action groups should be formed. These would be family members of patients who benefit from technology, including that tested on animals. They would bring the fight to the terrorists and all left wing enemies of clinical care. They would beat them, burn them out, then kill those who do not learn. These terrorists are threats to the survival of their loved ones. Killing them has full moral justification. It should be done during the commission of a terrorist act, to preserve a possible legal justification.

From USA Today, "CEOs may feel under attack like never before, but few have experienced it like Dan Vasella, CEO of Switzerland-based pharmaceutical giant Novartis (NVS).

This past summer, animal rights activists went to his hometown village and painted "murderer" on the church. A week later, they desecrated the graves of his sister and parents. Then they set fire to his Austrian vacation home. Most CEOs respond to loud criticism by staying quiet, but Vasella, 56, decided to go public and do media interviews and lobby for tougher law enforcement throughout Europe. He spoke to USA TODAY corporate management reporter Del Jones about what leaders should do when anger crosses the line. Following are excerpts edited for clarity and space.

Q: What do you get from confronting enemies? You're not going to change their minds.

A: You win public support. With that, you can achieve anything. Without public support, you cannot achieve anything.

Q: This Q&A makes no attempt to determine right and wrong in animal testing debate. But aren't you helping activists by giving them the soapbox they desire?

A: I don't believe so. It's my duty as a citizen to speak up when illegal actions take place. Suffering in silence doesn't help anybody. You have to stand up. You have to fight for something. If everyone remained silent, then the people who are violent would prevail.

Q: Other drug companies have not fought this so publicly. Aren't you putting a bull's-eye on Novartis?

A:No. If others duck to stay off the radar, that's a bad recipe.

Q: CEOs in a variety of industries have told me that they get anonymous threats through the mail and elsewhere. Should they go public?

A: The general advice that security departments give is: Don't respond, don't react, and we'll handle it. In the U.K., police are much more active than in continental Europe. There was a bomb case in the U.S. a few years ago, and the FBI became active, but that activity passes by when nobody dies. My advice to others is to be cool and react with logic, be prudent, take precautions, but do not panic and be afraid. Be willing to engage (with activists) if they have a point, if it's appropriate. We've engaged with Greenpeace and with Médecins Sans Frontières International (Doctors Without Borders). But sometimes their objective is to create fear and uncertainty, a terroristic attempt at psychological tension.

Q: Are CEOs wrong when they file a police report but stay quiet?

A: In many instances, that may be right, but I think there is also a line which one has to draw. It's a judgment call. It should be a deliberate decision and not an emotional one. In my case, people understood because what happened was so outrageous.

Q: If you were to do it over again, would you do anything differently?

A: I would go public earlier, immediately. We should have done more to engage politicians and the press in making them aware what was going on, because we need the public to understand.

Q: Has your response done anything to stop the behavior of your antagonists?

A: It's calm right now, but I don't think that they have changed in any way their fundamental attitude and actions. We have more support on the political side in continental Europe. Changing laws is a multiyear process, but we have never encountered so much support as now.

Q: Where do yet get your courage?

A: If I ever came home from school and said I felt unfairly treated by a teacher, my parents never said the teacher was right. They said: You have to stand up and defend yourself. You occasionally prevail. That gives strength inside, which not everyone had the luck to experience.

Q: If CEOs went more on the offensive, would they have to worry about the safety of themselves and family?

A: I don't. There was a period when I was more alert, a normal reaction. Now we are conducting our lives as we used to. Of course, there are security measures that have been taken, but you can never protect everything.

Q: If you were the leader of the animal rights group, what would you do differently to get your point across and cause change?

A:You put me in a difficult position to argue for them. Certainly, any criminal actions won't lead to success in the long term. The only way to proceed is to engage in dialogue."

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