PETA's Hypocritical Lawsuit Against Ringling Brothers

The Associated Press reported this week that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has filed suit in Virginia against Ringling Brothers Circus. The lawsuit charges Ringling Brothers with using paid investigators to infiltrate PETA by pretending to be volunteers. The spying allegedly took place in the early 1980s.

Of course PETA pioneered this technique of infiltrating groups itself — in fact it came to national prominence precisely because of Alex Pacheco‘s questionable undercover work. Now, however, PETA is complaining that this case is different.

The Associated Press quoted PETA’s Lisa Lange as explaining, “First of all, we don’t steal documents in our investigations. More importantly, we investigate situations where we have reason to belive, either through whistle blowers or industry practices, that illegal and abusive treatment of animals exist.”

Lange’s first statement is an outright lie. In 1997 PETA settled a lawsuit brought against it by Huntingdon Life Sciences over a PETA operative who infiltrated HLS. That operative stole hundreds of HLS documents and video tapes, and one of the requirements of the settlement agreement was that PETA had to return or destroy all materials stolen from HLS.

As for PETA investigating only where there are allegations of animal abuse: a) PETA has manufactured evidence of animal abuse as often as it has uncovered it, and b) given Ingrid Newkirk and other PETA staff members tendency to praise animal rights terrorism, it would not be much of a stretch to wonder if PETA might be engaged in illegal activities itself. Certainly there is at least as much evidence for that as there is for some of the bogus claims that PETA has pursued.

Ringling Brothers, for its part, told the Associated Press that the company had not been served with the lawsuit yet and so could not comment.


PETA: Circus spied on us. Matthew Barakat, Associated PRess, May 8, 2001.

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