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Robert Green Ingersoll
VIVISECTION. VIVISECTION is the Inquisition -- the Hell -- of Science, All the cruelty which the human -- or rather the inhuman -- heart is capable of inflicting, is in this one word. Below this there is no depth. This word lies like a coiled serpent at the bottom of the abyss. We can excuse, in part, the crimes of passion. We take into consideration the fact that man is liable to be caught by the whirlwind, and that from a brain on fire the soul rushes to a crime. But what excuse can ingenuity form for a man who deliberately -- with an un-accelerated pulse -- with the calmness of John Calvin at the murder of Serviettes -- seeks, with curious and cunning knives, in the living, quivering flesh of a dog, for all the throbbing nerves of pain? The wretches who commit these infamous crimes pretend that they are working for the good of man; that they are actuated by philanthropy; and that their pity for the sufferings of the human race drives out all pity for the animals they slowly torture to death. But those who are incapable of pitying animals are, as a matter of fact, incapable of pitying men. A physician who would cut a living rabbit in pieces -- laying bare the nerves, denuding them with knives, pulling them out with forceps -- would not hesitate to try experiments with men and women for the gratification of his curiosity. To settle some theory, he would trifle with the life of any patient in his power. By the same reasoning he will justify the vivisection of animals and patients. He will say that it is better that a few animals should suffer than that one human being should die; and that it is far better that one patient should die, if through the sacrifice of that one, several may be saved. Brain without heart is far more dangerous than heart without brain. Have these scientific assassins discovered anything of value? They may have settled some disputes as to the action of some organ, but have they added to the useful knowledge of the race? It is not necessary for a man to be a specialist in order to have and express his opinion as to the right or wrong of vivisection. It is not necessary to be a scientist or a naturalist to detest cruelty and to love mercy. Above all the discoveries of the thinkers, above all the inventions of the ingenious, above all the victories won on fields of intellectual conflict, rise human sympathy and a sense of justice. I know that good for the human race can never be accomplished by torture. I also know that all that has been ascertained by vivisection could have been done by the dissection of the dead. I know that all the torture has been useless. All the agony inflicted has simply hardened the hearts of the criminals, without enlightening their minds. It may be that the human race might be physically improved if all the sickly and deformed babes were killed, and if all the paupers, liars, drunkards, thieves, villains, and vivisectionists were murdered. All this might, in a few ages, result in the Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 15 VIVISECTION. production of a generation of physically perfect men and women; but what would such beings be worth, -- men and women healthy and heartless, muscular and cruel -- that is to say, intelligent wild beasts? Never can I be the friend of one who vivisects his fellow -- creatures. I do not wish to touch his hand. When the angel of pity is driven from the heart; when the fountain of tears is dry, -- the soul becomes a serpent trawling in the dust of a desert. A letter written to Philip G. Peabody. May 27, 1890.
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