In December, animal rights activist Barbara Gates distributed a letter to other activists essentially apologizing for her appearance on the Fox reality TV show “Trading Spouses” and warning other activists who might consider appearing on the show.
In case you missed Gates’ appearance, the conceit of the show was that Gates lived for a period of time with a meat-eating family while that family’s mother lived with Gates’ family. To put it bluntly, the show made Gates look like a nut case. I caught a couple episodes, but laughing at Gates got boring quickly and the show was unwatchable in my opinion.
Gates’ letter basically claims she was a victim of manipulative video editing. Gates writes,
I apologize if you tried contacting me through this email address in December. I was not excepting emails due to “hate” mail I was receiving after appearing on the reality TV show Trading Spouses — as the vegan mom. We are still — weeks later — recovering from the shock and hurt over watching our family life and vegan values be desecrated on national TV. At the core of my grief is how the vegan message was not presented objectively and truthfully AT ALL. How I wish I could give specific examples — you would be shocked and upset to know. Film editing is capable of making movie magic — even black magic.
I have no doubt that the producers of this show relied on creative, manipulative editing, but its a bit odd to see an animal rights activist and others in the movement up in arm over this practice given how frequently it is used by animal rights groups to manufacture and distort evidence. All Fox did to Gates was what People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other groups have been doing for decades.
It would be nice to see activists condemn such dishonest tactics on principle, rather than only when they are the targets.
Dear friends of Project Health Beginnings letter. Barbara Gates, January 2005.