Does People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals support animal rights terrorism? You be the judge. Ingrid Newkirk‘s book on the Animal Liberation Front, Free the Animals was recently republished. For the new edition, Newkirk wrote an Author’s Note, which reads in part,
Today’s liberationists know that the ice has been broken. Television and newspaper stories have shown the extent of the suffering, over and over again. People know that there are kind alternatives to every cruel thing, from veggie burgers and ‘pleather’ to virtual organs. Perhaps that’s why the ‘new ALF’ has lost patience with the foot draggers and spends scant time explaining. Determined to cause economic injury to the exploiters, ALF members burn down their emptied buildings and smash their vehicles to smithereens. Perhaps, after reading this book, you will find that you cannot blame them.
Apparently Rush Limbaugh
has recently made some disparaging remarks about animal rights activists,
which drew the ire of an activist who expressed his anger an animal rights
email list. According to the activist, Rush Limbaugh is “the individual
who has done more harm to the cause of ANIMAL LIBERATION than anyone else
in history…” Normally I ignore such rantings on AR-NEWS, but this
one got me to thinking whether Limbaugh really deserved the title as the
person whose done the most to harm the animal rights movement.
Ingrid Newkirk would be
the obvious candidate for the honor, but since its difficult sometime
to tell who is behind specific People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals campaigns and media coverage of Newkirk
is often excessively deferential, I have to pass over her. To stick to
a single person, I’d say Peter Singer clearly stands head and shoulders
above the rest.
But first to dispatch with
Limbaugh. Certainly Limbaugh has a big audience, but his negatives are
so high he pretty much only preaches to the choir. Limbaugh also has a
well-known problem of factual inaccuracy – I certainly wouldn’t take anything
he says at face value.
Singer is the leader because
a) like many of the other animal rights activists, he makes constant gaffes
and b) unlike other animal rights activists, Singer’s comments have received
widespread coverage in most major and minor newspapers in the country.
Tom Regan probably said the single dumbest thing by a major animal rights
proponent when he said he’d throw a retarded infant overboard in a lifeboat
before an intelligent dog, but he was speaking extemporaneously and that
quote wasn’t (and isn’t likely to be) widely reported in the mainstream
But Singer not only include
his views about killing babies and senile old people in his books, but
he actually goes out of his way to reemphasize his beliefs to the media.
Recently deciding that only if he had an opportunity to explain his views
himself, Singer engaged in a debate at Princeton at which he actually
had the gall to say: “Killing an infant is not equivalent to killing
a person because by a person I mean something more of a rational self-aware
being.” Princeton has kindly placed audio and video feeds of the
debate on their web site at http://www.princeton.edu/WebMedia/special/index.shtml.
Many animal rights activists
would probably like to disown Singer’s views on infants and old people,
but his views illustrate an important component of the anti-animal rights
argument: you can’t just grant animals rights and assume this will have
no far reaching effects on other moral and legal principles. The attempt
to equate marginal human beings with non-human animals inevitably changes
not only the moral position of the non-humans but that of human beings
as well. In fact the changes resulting from current animal rights philosophies
would involve dramatic restructuring of most contemporary societies view
of the moral universe as it applies to human beings.
The 1998 award for poorly timed
press releases goes to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which
had strangely disjointed press releases on successive days at the end
In a December 29 press release,
PETA announced it was donating fur coats to homeless people in Chicago.
PETA received the furs as donations from celebrities and others who converted
to the animal rights cause and no longer wanted to wear fur. PETA president
Ingrid Newkirk summed up the groupÂ’s motivation in giving away the coats
by saying, “only people struggling to survive have any excuse for
wearing fur.” Newkirk didnÂ’t address why, if struggling to survive
allows one to use animals, medical researchers canÂ’t use animals to try
to find treatments for terminally ill patients “struggling to survive.”
In any event, on December
30 PETA released yet another press release on fur announcing that “only
cave people wear fur.” So are homeless people “struggling to
survive” or are they stone aged Neanderthals? You be the judge, but
PETA did announce an anti-fur demonstration that would include “members
of PETA and Animal Action wielding clubs and draped in animal skins.”
The image of PETA members
dressed up as Fred Flintstone is certainly a compelling one, but at least
PETA did everyone a favor by highlighting how long animal use has been
a central part of human societies.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is back to its bizarre ways (if I didn’t know better, I’d swear
this group had been taken over by hunters looking to discredit the animal
rights movement). In mid-September PETA showed up to protest at the American
Meat Institute convention and held a “human barbecue.” It barbecued
tofu in the shape of a “cattleman.”
“People eat other animals,
why not humans?” asked PETA President Ingrid Newkirk in a press release.
“The notion of eating any animals should be as preposterous as cannibalism.
So eating a hamburger is the same as roasting up Uncle Bob.”
If that wasn’t enough, PETA attacked
ads featuring the National Football League’s John Randle, who plays defensive
tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. The commercial, paid for by Nike, shows
Randle making a small football jersey emblazoned with a No. 4 similar to
the one that Green Bay Packer quarterback Brett Favre wears. Randle then
practices chasing the chicken around the field (Favre is known for his
ability to take off running if he cant find a receiver to throw
to). The chicken keeps getting away from Randle until the finale where
the audience sees Randle standing over a grill where he is preparing chicken.
PETA, of course, is horrified that
the ad is running and wants it pulled immediately. In fact, PETA claims
that “the commercial mimics what psychologists now see as a sign
of criminal mentality, in that pleasure is apparently derived from trauma
inflicted on a vulnerable animal.” According to Newkirk, “Young
people who see Randle as a role model may learn to associate the terror
of defenseless chickens as a form of amusement.”
So eating hamburger is cannibalism
and chasing a chicken is a sure sign that one is a sociopathic criminal.
I know a lot of anti-animal rights
people despise PETA, but in my opinion they are our best ally. No single
person or group does more to discredit animal rights and show just how
bizarre the animal rights agenda is than PETA.
On July 17 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent Gil the Fish
to lead a protest against fishing in Watertown, New York. In a press release
PETA gushed on about the horrors of fishing. “Fish feel pain — they
have neurochemical systems like humans and sensitive nerve endings in
their lips and mouths. They begin to die slowly of suffocation the moment
they are pulled out of the water.”
As Ingrid Newkirk summed up PETAÂ’s
view, “Animal suffering of any kind is not a sport.” PETA wants
a national ban on fishing enacted.
If it is wrong for fish to
suffer is it okay to shoot bears and birds that might eat fish?
In other PETA-related news
PETA urged people to send letters to Sundial Beach and Tennis Resort
on Sanibal Island, Florida, because an “Ecocenter” there sells
hermit crabs. According to a PETA release, selling the crabs is “disrespectful
and ecologically unsound.”
PETA demanded Sea Pines, South Carolina, abandon plans to kill 200
deer who are destroying plants in the area (selling crabs is unsound,
destroying flora is perfectly acceptable.)
In a bizarre twist, PETA wants Turner Broadcasting Systems (TBS)
to stop running a series of short spots called “Monkey Shorts.”
The shorts feature chimpanzees and orangutans dressed up as different
characters who move their lips and move around the screen as a human
voice over plays. The shorts are shown between TBS feature movies. According
to PETA, “even the most considerate of trainers cannot compensate
for the anxiety and frustration of such an unnatural life in captivity.”
Giant “fish” to tackle fishing in Watertown. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Press Release, July 16, 1998.
Help stop the sale of hermit crabs in Florida. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Press Release, July 1998.
Help protest the slaughter of deer at Hilton Head, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Press Release, July 1998.
Urge TBS to cancel ‘Monkey Shorts,’. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Press Release, July 1998.
A couple years ago there was an enormous flap over an opponent of animal rights who registered the peta.org domain, claiming he represented People Eating Tasty Animals. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals whined and moaned about the peta.org site and threatened to sue the owner of the domain. Eventually the domain was suspended, and PETA currently uses petaonline.org.
So now it is 1998 and what is PETA doing? ThatÂ’s right, deceptively registering domain names associated with their opponents. Recently it registered ringlingbrothers.com and posted information on that web site accusing Ringling Brothers of mistreating animals. Just as PETA did a few years ago, Ringling Brothers filed a lawsuit demanding PETA stop using the domain name.
On May 14, Ringling Brothers agreed to drop the lawsuit in exchange for PETA transferring control of ringlingbrothers.com to the circus. Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, didnÂ’t sound all that disappointed to see the domain name go saying, “The site had served its purpose. Ringling had brought all the attention in the world to it.”
Sorry Newkirk, but the only thing highlighted by this fiasco is PETA’s own hypocrisy.
“PETA agrees to turn over domain name to circus,” Associated Press,
May 14, 1998.