Speak beginning to lose the plot

Animal rights group Speak’s behaviour is becoming increasingly bizarre. Actually, to be accurate, the pieces written on its website – almost certainly written by leader Mel Broughton – are becoming increasingly bizarre.

There is a report on the Oxford Encaenia ceremony where five protestors were arrested that reads as if there was a riot on Broad St. Part of it reads: “It was at this point that the police moved in attacking people. Five protesters were arrested – all have since been released, but with injuries and extensive bruising from the violence of the police attack.

“One man was attacked by about five police officers and he could be heard screaming in pain. All those arrested were seen being pushed with force against stonewalls; one of the arrested was an elderly woman over 70 years old. Despite her age, the police showed no mercy and she to was badly bruised and thrown around.”

I don’t buy any of this. I turned up outside the Sheldonian at 10.55am in order to make sure a member of the press was there. I wandered around and saw nothing. I went down Catte St, around Radcliffe Square, back up to Broad St, nothing. I then had a coffee at the end of Broad Street until 12pm, before moving down Turl St to see the ceremony, which started at 12.15 or so. Then I immediately walked back around to the Bridge of Sighs where the Speak protestors were, and were being allowed to protest without any harrassment whatsoever.

Now the facts are that five people were arrested and I didn’t see it, but I was almost certainly within hearing shot and all I heard were the usual Speak chants. If there had been a big clash like Speak claims, I’d have heard it and been there like a shot. I have to say as well that I have closely followed five protests now and while the police are certainly not friendly toward Speak, I have yet to see once violent retaliation from the police and I understand they are under orders not to do so.

I don’t buy Speak’s version of events in the slightest – but it does make you wonder why on earth they would want to exaggerate to an untenable degree the situation they were in.

But it gets worse. The next protest on 22 July will apparently be held in memory of “George”. Speak apparently has an inside source that reveals that scientists working with animals are in fact psychopaths that revel in causing pain: “SPEAK has received information from a source working in the Department of Experimental Psychology detailing yet again the appalling abuse being suffered by a primate inside Oxford University. Our source has told us that a macaque monkey was imprisoned for several years and was forced to undergo a variety of experiments that included invasive brain surgery.”

Again I don’t buy it. Speak spent six months protesting about the “Oxford Two” until they were finally told by Oxford University that the two monkeys in question had been put down nearly a decade earlier. The latest “evidence” about George is equally implausible.

“We have been told that the researcher took great satisfaction in detailing the injuries he caused to the monkey he was experimenting on. He told his audience that they had named the monkey ‘George’, and then went on to detail the types of injuries he had personally inflicted on this poor innocent creature. At one point George’s eyes had extensive injuries caused to them, creating lesions for the purpose of the experiment. The account told by the vivisector is even more obscene when one takes into account that the vivisector then started to laugh as he went on with his story…”

It’s like the worst sort of Sun reporting. And there isn’t a shred of evidence that any of it is true. Instead of facts, come wild, free-ranging assertions: “George was almost certainly a wild caught macaque. Once he would have been roaming free in the tundra of Tanzania, or on the sugar plantations of Mauritius or in the jungles of Indonesia and China. He was taken from his homeland and forced to endure the most appalling cruelty. The next time he experienced fresh air, he was blind and tethered. His life ended at the hands of someone who can only be described as a monster; there are no other words to describe such a depraved individual.”

And then more emotive invention: “Vivisectors like to talk about how much they care about the animals they torture and eventually kill. Such pronouncements are just that, these people care about nothing but themselves. George died alone, blind, afraid and imprisoned in a barren cage; a cage hardly big enough for him to stand up in – a far cry from the life he experienced in his homeland: free, jumping from tree to tree, interacting with his own kind. Death was probably the only kind act George had ever received at the hands of his human tormentors.”

How on earth can Speak expect people to take them seriously when they publish such hateful, one-sided and baseless rants and then attempt to use them to corral support for a protest? I’m really surprised. Speak has always been very emotive in its efforts to persuade people to the rightness of its course, but this is just crazy ranting. Speak is beginning to lose the plot.

  1. I was at the demonstration and you were obviously not very observant or missed allot. I experineced extreme violence by the police and completely unnecessary sections used against what was a very peaceful demo. So where where you when this was happening Kieren – having your coffee possibly? You may want to have the true facts before you post inaccurate information and I will be very happy to meet with you and clarify what happened on that particular demonstration.

  2. That I’m afraid is the problem with losing credibility. I *have* been standing there at various past protests and been amazed to read a completely different version of events put out by Speak to what I witnessed.

    I found the description of what happened at the Encaenia ceremony completely over the top because if it had happened as was described, it was incredibly quiet. I was only 100 yards away.


  3. It did happen as was described, I find it difficult to believe you missed it. You are correct in saying it was very quiet which is why I find it hard to understand why 17 people were arrested and will be going to court on the 25th of this month.

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