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From: "DawnWatch" <[email protected]>

Sent: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 3:06 PM

Subject: DawnWatch: Boston Legal's strong cosmetic testing stance! 1/30/07

Last night's (January 30, 2007) episode of Boston Legal was wonderful for animals! The show is a bizarre kind of comedy, but even in that context serious points about cosmetic testing on animals were made. We also got to hear about the dark side of horse racing -- terrific timing given Barbaro's passing this week.

I will summarize, below, the parts of the plot that had to do with the animal testing scenario, and transcribe some small sections.

Bella, who owns a cosmetic company, comes into the law firm covered in blue paint. She says she has been attacked by "vicious terrorists." Given that it has become common to seriously try and pin the terrorist label on animal rights activists, it is a pleasant relief to hear the label used in a way that is clearly meant to be hyperbolic, by a character who seems unbalanced and says she has "had enough of these psycho animal loving Liberal thugs."

We learn that the DA has picked up a Mr. Steinkellner, head of COTA, the Coalition Opposed to Testing on Animals. Bella's lawyers tell her "While he is officially denying that COTA painted you blue, the Coalition condones and supports it, thinks you look good in a primary color, and is in fact calling for a second coat."

Bella has unpleasant words with Shirley Schmidt, played by Candice Bergen. Bella is clearly being set up as a somewhat unsympathetic character.

Enter Matthew Steinkellner, a pleasant nerdy kind of guy dressed in a suit. Denny Crane, played by William Shatner, says "You are the man who attacked Bella," to which Steinkellner replies that he has never attacked anybody. He is credible.

In court, Bella says she wants a restraining order from COTA. She says they have been harassing her and her company for years. She says "They carry their placards outside my corporate headquarters, they say that we kill and torture animals, they verbally assault anybody going in or out of our building. I am losing business. I am losing clients, I am losing employees. I mean enough is enough."

Matthew's defense attorney, Bethany, cross examines Bella.

Bethany: The truth is, you do kill and torture animals, do you not?

Bella: We test our products on animals, yes, but it is to save human life.

Bethany: Oh -- you are a humanitarian.

Your company uses rabbits.

Bella: Like many do

Bethany: You lock them in stocks so that just their heads stick out. You clip their eyelids open and poor chemicals into their eyes while they are left there for two weeks to experience ulceration, bleeding, and massive iris deterioration.

Do you not subject these animals to excruciating pain?

Bella: The rabbits, which are from the rodent family, do experience some discomfiture. But once again, it is to save human suffering.

Bethany: And what is human suffering to you? Going without blush? Sometimes the rabbits break their own necks trying to escape. You are saying that my client doesn't have the right to protest that? You are saying you do all this to be humane?

Well I guess people can justify all types of bad behavior can't they Bella?

Denny Crane cross examines Matthew from COTA. ( Matthew is well-groomed and his demeanor is straightforward and pleasant.)

Denny: You don't like animal testing?

Matthew: COTA is against any cruelty to animals.

Denny: You paint people blue.

Matthew: Somebody else beat us to Bella

Denny: The protest at my client's company...

Matthew: That was us.

Denny: You throw blood on people wearing fur

Matthew: It is dye, but point taken.

Denny: People wearing synthetic fur

Matthew: Well they promote the fashion

Denny: People who eat meat

Matthew: Slaughterhouses

Denny: Leather

Matthew: Animals' hide

Denny: Wool

Matthew: Same

Denny: Football

Matthew: Skin of a pig

Denny: Cancer Research

At which point Matthew's lawyer, Bethany, interjects, "Oh come on! This case doesn't involve cancer research! She tortures rabbits to make a better mascara."

In her summation, Bethany says,

"My client isn't protesting against a doctor trying to cure AIDS here. He isn't singling out a hunter trying to provide food for his family. He is going after a billion dollar cosmetics company that tortures rabbits in the name of make-up. There are all kinds of alternative testing methods and thousands of ingredients that can be safely used to make the same products without hurting animals."

She mentions companies that do not test on animals

Then she says,

"We try to pass ourselves off as a compassionate people your honor. We prioritize kindness as one of the most important values to instill in our children. Integrity is another. Where is either in making animals suffer in the name of our personal vanity? At some point, people have to stand up and say this is wrong. That man (pointing to Matthew) and his coalition stand up every day.

My God, the question can't always be, 'How much money do we want to make?' It should be, 'Who do we want to be?'"

In her remarks on behalf of Bella, Shirley Schmidt says that we are a nation that seems to love animals but doesn't really. She notes that we treat racehorses with such reverence, adding, "Never mind that a two year old thoroughbred's bones aren't fully developed to withstand such a pounding. And we certainly don't talk about how after they stop competing, many race horses are slaughtered."

Her point is "Despite our proclaimed love of animals, they really exist for our amusement."

She says, "Ms Horowitz (Matthew's lawyer, Bethany) thinks that we should draw the line somewhere. I agree. But at vanity? This is America the Beautiful!"

Then she talks about how important make-up is and sums up by saying, "We as a people, as a nation, like to feel pretty. It is who we are. And if it means that a few young rabbits have to sacrifice their lives, well, they and their families can take heart because they did so for their country. Because, when you think about it, all we can really hope for at this point is to save face."

It is clearly a ridiculous argument. It is suggested that Shirley has intentionally "tanked" the case. The point seems to be that one can't really make a serious argument defending cosmetic testing on animals.

The judge rules that COTA must stay 100 feet away from Bella, so that they can't paint her blue, but that they have every right to protest on public property outside her place of business.

It would be great to see some animal friendly comments from Boston Legal fans comfortable with message boards at:

Or please send thanks via the ABC Network feedback page to David Kelley and the Boston Legal team for the cosmetic testing storyline.

The ABC Network takes feedback here:

Feedback matters! It is great for ABC to learn that animal friendly shows are watched and appreciated.

Yours and the animals',

Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line. If somebody forwards you DawnWatch alerts, which you enjoy, please help the list grow by signing up. It is free!)

20,217 Posts
Well, I missed it. I'll just have to watch for the rerun later in the season.
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