Wisconsin Legislature Says State Should Investigate, Possibly Sue PETA

Wisconsin State Rep. Scott Suder apparently wants to replicate the Oprah Winfrey/Mad Cow lawsuit fiasco in Wisconsin by asking the state Attorney General to investigate claims made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in ads disparaging milk.

The Badger Herald (Wisconsin) reported that Suder had contacted Wisconsin’s Consumer Protection Legal Division and asked them to investigate whether or not PETA’s claims that milk causes health problems are violating Wisconsin law. Suder told The Badger Herald,

They’ve crossed the line this time. They state in their letter [to Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle] that milk causes breast cancer, osteoporosis and a whole host of other diseases.

As the Badger Herald summed up Suder’s legal case (emphasis added),

It is these claims, Suder says, that are potentially in violation of Wisconsin’s false advertising laws, which prohibit any person or organization from making claims in the media that contain untrue or deceptive messages.

Now I’ll be the first to jump on the bandwagon that PETA’s claims are ridiculous. Does Bruce Friedrich really think anyone takes him seriously when he Friedrich says in a PETA press release (emphasis added),

Beer in moderation is good for you, while even one glass of milk supports animal abuse and harms your health.

What’s next for Friedrich? Claiming that milk is the gateway drug to red meat consumption? (How about a film called Diary Madness showing kids sitting around drinking milk and then dropping dead?)

But going after PETA with false advertising laws is a strategy that will inevitably backfire. Rather than making PETA look like idiots — which the organization already does a fine job of on its own — such a lawsuit will have the effect of making PETA look like a victim of an overzealous legislature and produce a flurry of news articles that will have the effect of giving PETA’s dietary claims a lot more serious coverage than they deserve.


State representative calls for legal action against PETA. John Buchel, The Badger Herald (Wisconsin), April 29, 2003.

PETA on Poultry Slaughter Practices

The Tahlequah Daily Press recently ran a lengthy, thorough look at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ recent complaints about the poultry industry along with responses from poultry industry representatives and other researchers countering PETA’s claims.

Bruce Friedrich told the Daily Press that, “Chickens are probably the most abused animals on the face of the planet.” PETA wants an end to he standard way most chickens are killed — they are exposed to a stun bath (water with electricity running through it) to knock them out. The birds than have their throats slit by an automated machine with a human being killing any chickens that escape the machine. The chickens are then dumped into scalding hot water to cause the feathers and body to begin to separate. PETA maintains that as many as two-thirds of the chickens killed this way are not properly stunned when immersed into the water, and want the industry to expose the chickens to lethal doses of gas instead.

The poultry industry counters that this would be too expensive and that the current process is humane.

Kansas State University professor Janice Swanson expresses a view common among industry and researchers — the activists have their minds made up and so simply ignore research that contradicts their views. Discussing research about optimal cage sizes, Swanson said,

They [animal rights activists] already made the decision that cages are all bad, so any increase to the space in a cage is not going to please special advocacy groups.

Friedrich responds that research into cage sizes is “laughable,” adding that,

Chickens should be glad to be chickens. They’re intelligent, interesting animal who have as much rights as a dog or cat to breathe fresh air, form relationships and do the things that animals want to do.


Animal rights activists not happy with poultry industry. Eddie Glenn, Tahlequah Daily Press, March 28, 2003.

PETA Launches KFC Campaign

In January People for the Ethical Treatment of animals launched a global boycott of KFC aimed at convincing the company to change its policies regarding who it buys chickens from. So far the KFC down the street doesn’t exactly seem to be suffering, but your mileage may vary.

According to the New York Times, KFC purchases about 700 million chickens annually. PETA wants KFC to require its suppliers to improve the diets of breeder hens and gas chickens before they kill them (hmm . . . I suppose they got that idea from their “Holocaust on a Plate” campaign).

Bruce Friedrich told the NYT,

If people knew what happened to those chickens, raising them in their own filth and then dumping them on an assembly line to have their throats cut when they’re still alive, they wouldn’t got to Kentucky Fried Chicken.

As the NYT notes, the campaign worked against Burger King and McDonald’s, so PETA seems to be trying KFC on for size. KFC may give in at some point as well, but it should be noted that McDonald’s and Burger King have a much higher media profile than does KFC. Both the Burger King and McDonald’s campaigns were covered regularly by national media, whereas the KFC campaign seems to have received far less coverage.

The NYT interviewed an independent expert on chickens, University of Guelph in Canada poultry sciences adviser Ian Duncan, who had a very odd response (emphasis added),

I’ve been doing research into chicken welfare since 1995 and change has been slow, very slow. PETA is very extreme and they exaggerate, but maybe that’s what it takes. I used to be very much against them, but I can see they are getting things done.

I wonder if Duncan would buy the same explanation from a student who “exaggerated” on a class project or paper. “Well, it did get the job done, Dr. Duncan, and that’s what’s important, right?”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council told the NYT,

PETA’s objective is not to improve animal welfare but to eliminate the use of food from animal sources. A proper concern for animal welfare is already well established in he broiler chicken industry.

PETA has been holding occasional protests against KFC ever since, including everyone’s favorite advocate of murder for the cause, Chrissie Hynde, at a March protest in Washington, DC. Hynde and other activists stood outside a KFC chanting such witticisms as,

KFC what do you say? How many chickens did you kill today?

Gee, that’s almost as clever as Hynde’s line about how it may take the murder of a researcher to get people’s attention. Ah, those nutty celebrities. (For those counting, the answer to that question would be 1.9 million per day assuming the NYT’s figure is correct).


Group says it will begin a boycott against KFC. Elizabeth Becker, The New York Times, January 6, 2003.

‘How Many Chickens Did you Kill Today?’. KOMO-TV, March 9, 2003.

Bruce Friedrich Spins Support for Animal Rights Terrorism

The Associated Press ran a story in February about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ support for animal rights terrorism. The story centered around the Center for Consumer Freedom’s excellent work documenting PETA’s financial support for terrorist groups, including its donation to the Earth Liberation Front.

It is interesting to look at how PETA presents itself to the public when talking to reporters for articles like this compared to what it says when the audience is mainly other animal rights activists.

The AP reports, for example, that Bruce Friedrich told its reporter that PETA always carries out its activities legally and says of PETA’s critics,

They’re good at coming up with the best smear tactics that (public relations) firms can devise. At the end of the day, what PETA is fighting for is kindness.

But it was Bruce Friedrich who said at Animal Rights 2001 that while he personally doesn’t “blow up stuff,”

. . . I do advocate it, and I think it’s a great way to bring about animal liberation.

It was Friedrich, not the CCF, who revealed his thuggish nature when telling a reporter that PETA would protest at a church pig roast and added that,

I wouldn’t rule out turning over tables.

And, of course, it was Friedrich who wrote an essay several years ago defending the importance of “direct action” activities such as those carried about by the Animal Liberation Front saying,

I have found that Animal Liberation Front activities speak to people, regardless of their belief in animal rights. They “get it.”

. . .

Considering the power of our opposition, can you imagine where we would be without surprise direct actions and the secrecy required for so much of what we do?

Of course if I had repeatedly defended and advocated violence and thuggery, I’d probably not want to mention that to a reporter either and pretend that all PETA does is “fight for kindness” (gee, why didn’t he just throw in a line about defending Mom and apple pie while he was at it?)


Food industry questions PETA’s backing of violent activists. Associated Press, February 16, 2003.

PETA Tries to Exploit Canadian Serial Killings

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals tried to exploit the upcoming trial of alleged serial killer Robert Pickton by placing newspaper ads that compared the suffering of farm animals to that of Pickton’s alleged victims. So far, Canadian newspapers have refused to run the advertisements.

Pickton faces charges in the deaths of 15 women who went missing in Vancouver. Pickton allegedly dismembered his victims after killing them and stored their body parts in a freezer on his small, non-commercial pig farm.

To PETA, of course, there is no difference between a serial killer murdering women and the slaughter of animals for food. The advertisement reads, in part,

British Columbia . . .

They were drugged and dragged across the room . . .

their struggles and cries went unanswered . . .

they were slaughtered and their heads were sawed off . . .

their body parts were refrigerated . . .

and their bones discarded.

It’s Still Going On.

Please remember that this scenario is a reality for more than 640 million sensitive individuals who lose their lives every year in this country for nothing more than the taste of their “meat.”

Asked about the ad, Bruce Freidrich told the Vancouver Sun,

Our hearts go out to the human victims of violence every bit as much as our hearts go out to animal victims of violence. Our point is simply that eating meat supports violence and bloodshed. . . . It’s easy to look at a tragedy like this and feel powerless. Adopting a vegetarian diet is one good way to say no to continued violence and suffering.

Relatives of the victims were reportedly outraged by the ad. Ernie Crey, whose sister is one of the women allegedly murdered by Pickton, told the Vancouver Sun,

I think they’re being unethical in choosing this course of action. It does hurt when people do this without meaningful forethought. Someone in the organization put down their moral compass.

That would presuppose, of course, that there was a moral compass at PETA to begin with which seems unlikely.


Planned pig-farm slaughter ad ‘grotesque media stunt.’ Suzanne Fournier, The Vancouver Province. November 13, 2002.

PETA rebuffed over ad linking meat-eating with violence. Nicholas Read and Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun, November 13, 2002.

PETA Takes "Breast Is Best" Billboard to Ottawa

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had difficulty finding a place for its Jesus-inspired breast milk billboard, so it has taken its show on the road to Ottawa, Canada.

The billboard features an image of Mary breast feeding Jesus with the text, “If it was good enough for Jesus . . . The breast is best.”

According to Bruce Friedrich,

People need to realize that if they are drinking dairy products they are supporting animal cruelty . . . With all of our campaigns, including this one, we are trying to focus on the downside of animal products. In this case that feeding cow’s milk is linked to all of the ailments that plague infants.

Is Friedrich really that stupid? Doesn’t he know that almost nobody gives infants cow’s milk because parents know their digestive systems aren’t developed enough for it? Has he missed the rows of powdered formula present in most supermarkets?

As Dawn Walker, executive director of the Canadian Institute of Health, told The Ottawa Citizen,

“But for the majority of kids, milk is one of the basic food groups, and to try to cast milk in the light of animal rights is misleading.”

For children over the age of one, she said, milk is a nutritious part of a daily diet. PETA has a history of creating ad campaigns that project half-truths and misconceptions about milk products just to further its political goal of animal rights, she added.

You don’t say.


Group’s anti-milk billboard gives wrong health message: expert: ‘We all know breast is best and cow’s milk is not for infants.’ Patti Edgar, The Ottawa Citizen, November 8, 2002.