WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has filed a lawsuit against Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the fifth-largest public transit system in the United States, alleging that the agency has run afoul of the First Amendment by rejecting ads blasting Elon Musk for covering up invasive and deadly experiments on monkeys conducted by his company Neuralink. The Physicians Committee’s rejected ad reads: “Elon Musk: Release the videos! What are you hiding? StopMonkeyExperiments.org.” BART refused to run the ad unless the doctors’ group replaced Musk’s name with his company’s name. The Physicians Committee is suing, alleging that this is an unconstitutional act of viewpoint discrimination under the First Amendment.
Neuralink recently came under intense scrutiny when it was revealed that it paid the University of California, Davis $1.4 million to carry out invasive, often deadly experiments in which company employees drilled holes in monkeys’ skulls and implanted electrodes in the animals’ brains. The monkeys used in the experiments were caged alone, had steel posts screwed to their skulls, experienced seizures following brain implants, and had recurring infections at implant sites. In some cases, vet staff was compelled to intervene and euthanize monkeys because their overall health condition significantly deteriorated. Fourteen monkeys, including all who received neural implants, died or were killed by experimenters.
Although the experimenters documented their activities with video, Neuralink has released only specially selected and edited excerpts of the footage for use in promotional settings. The company has refused to release all video footage of the experiments in original, unedited form despite repeated requests from the Physicians Committee, skeptical scientists, and more than 50,000 members of the public.
BART’s advertising policy prohibits ads with political or public issue content, but Musk is not a politician nor judicial office holder. The policy also prohibits false, misleading, or tortious content, but the Physicians Committee’s proposed ad is truthful.
“BART is a public transit agency, not a censorship service to protect the reputation of the wealthiest person in the world,” says Mark Kennedy, Esq., vice president of legal affairs with the Physicians Committee. “A public service entity should not be holding back information that the public deserves to know.”
“A private company, owned by Elon Musk, who is not only the wealthiest person in the world but also a supposed champion of free speech, conducted horrific, atrocious experiments at a public university, and now a public transit organization is inappropriately shielding Musk from criticism,” says Ryan Merkley, director of research advocacy for the Physicians Committee. “BART is protecting Musk from the public outcry that results when people learn the truth about what happened in these cruel experiments.”
For a copy of the lawsuit, images of the ads, the animal care records, or to speak with Mr. Kennedy or Mr. Beckham, please contact Reina Pohl at 202-527-7326 or rpohl [at] pcrm.org.
Reina Pohl, MPH
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.