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.