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April 14, 2004

Think Globally, Unless I Have To Act Locally

NIMBY rears its ugly head in the struggle to defend the US against a possible biological weapons attack.

Opposition to the bioterrorism laboratory planned in Boston's South End gained considerable firepower yesterday when nearly 150 Massachusetts professors added their names to the campaign to stop the project.

The professors, including two Harvard Nobel laureates and social activists such as Noam Chomsky, said in a letter to Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the City Council that they worry that human error could lead to the accidental release of dangerous organisms or that terrorists could target the lab.

The fact that the facility will be similar to the CDC's already existing and heretofore perfectly safe Level 4 lab in Atlanta is unimportant--Atlantans not being as important as Bostonians, seemingly. In fact, there has never been a documented public outbreak from any of the nation's four Level 4 labs. (The CDC's in Atlanta, Fort Dietrich in Maryland, and two in Texas. There was an outbreak of foot and mouth in the livestock belonging to the Plum Island, N.Y, biofacility, but that occurred when the facility was at level 3. As best as I can tell, it still is.)

In more than 60 community meetings, some in settings as intimate as living rooms, BU administrators have sought to reassure residents of the South End and Roxbury neighborhoods that elaborate measures will be taken to assure safety at the lab. At the nation's four operational Level 4 research centers, armed guards monitor checkpoints, labyrinths of hallways make quick escapes impossible, and scientists in laboratory space suits manipulate mechanical hands to work with deadly compounds.

Take a look at the house prices in South End. A four room condo, for only $899,000! The issue here isn't about safety. It's about money, and the desire of wealthy Bostonians to shift even the most insignificant of sacrifices and smallest of risks away from themselves and onto the shoulders of others. If the only neighborhood affected was Roxbury* the academics wouldn't be making a peep. South End** is their hangout. Chomsky, for instance, works at MIT in Cambridge, 10 or so miles from proposed BU facility.

One would think that liberal academia might welcome a facility dedicated to fighting the most deadly diseases, ones that typically affect only the poverty-stricken residents of Third-World nations, but that would mean assuming that liberal academia takes the words "Think Globally, Act Locally" with a modicum of seriousness. Noam Chomsky and the other signers of this petition give the lie to this supposedly beloved slogan of the Left, proving that when it comes to acting locally, it's preferable that someone else do so. For the signer of this petition, accepting the possibility of future Ebola victims in Africa is preferable to confronting their own innumerate superstition.

*Roxbury is also a great place to get a five dollar blowjob from a crackwhore behind a bush on the sidewalk.
**An activity unique to the South End is "perusing." Perusing is when a man follows you home and if you want him to come in and blow you, you leave your door unlocked and he walks in a few minutes behind you.

Posted by Bigwig at April 14, 2004 02:25 PM | TrackBack
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No, no. You see, the great Gnoam and his colleages are all Certain Beyond Doubt that such a lab will really be a sneaky, tricksy, deceitful cover for a lab to make bioweapons for the evil hegemonist Amerikkka.

Sure, they might not put it in exactly those words (in public), but odds are good that many of them think exactly that. Certainly many of their followers do, as I know from direct experience with them.

Posted by: Sigivald at April 14, 2004 03:59 PM

Even so, the argument would be "If true, don't we we have to know how they're made to in order defend against them?"

Not that it would do any good.

Posted by: Bigwig at April 14, 2004 04:26 PM

I don't doubt your assessment of the motivations behind the opposition to the project, but...

...the DOD once proposed a Level 4 facility here in Utah, at Dugway Proving Ground. For those unfamiliar with the area, Dugway is a chemical/biological weapons test area located in the middle of a largely uninhabited desert the size of Massachusetts.

And the Lefties here still opposed it.

I think what is at work here is more of the superstitious dread that the modern Left has towards any scientific research that may benefit the US military.

Posted by: Captain Holly at April 14, 2004 05:53 PM
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