Friends of Animals’ legal director Lee Hall was back to his favorite sport this month — bashing People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals.
In an essay titled “People for the Exploitative Treatment of Arabs?” Hall rips into PETA and Ingrid Newkirk over a recent stunt in which PETA was to give a donated mink coat to an Iraqi. In January PETA issued a press releasing saying,
Every year, PETA gives away hundreds of donated fur coats to the needy and homeless across North America. KennedyÂ’s coats will be part of a special shipment that PETA is sending to war-torn Iraq, where many residents of hard-hit towns are facing a cold winter without electricity.
Hall first writes about his displeasure with previous PETA stunts wherein the group gives donated furs to homeless people. He mentions a 2002 campaign in which PETA gave fur coats to homeless people in Great Britain,
PETA pushed the
stunt despite strenuous public objection from British anti-fur campaigners
as well. Activists who had spent many weeks in delicate negotiations to
establish a fur-free policy in a Liverpool hospice charity watched their
work unravel in the midst of the PETA campaign.
Another group stated:
It gives the
impression that homeless people are a class that can be used as pawns in an
American groupÂ’s cause, and that they have no right to have a moral choice
on the fur issue. The marking of the coats with paint to identify them as
give-aways has the more sinister effect of identifying the wearers as
supervises the distribution of furs to homeless people in urban areas of the
U.S., through a scheme bizarrely named the Fur Soup
Kitchen. When the idea first hatched, numerous concerned activists,
including long-time anti-fur campaigner Priscilla Feral of Connecticut-based
Friends of Animals, asked PETA to drop the tactic. But PETA president
Ingrid Newkirk waved the critics off, telling them to “go to work, real
work!” Newkirk further wrote:
When the homeless
are wearing fur, you know fur has hit rock bottom. It is no longer
fashionable, chic or desirable. People with money and style can choose, and
they donÂ’t choose fur because nothing beats synthetics for warmth as borne
out by Polar and Everest expeditions. Perhaps the only people left who can
justify wearing fur are those so down-and-out that they cannot choose.
So now we see that
“the down-and-out” would have been better off with synthetics, but Newkirk
did not try to obtain such garments. Instead, Newkirk used these people
to make a point: to associate fur with the “rock bottom.” Rather than
offer respectful assistance to the poor, Newkirk subverted their dignity to
PETAÂ’s single-minded end.
Hall then turns to the furs-for-Iraq stunt writing,
And now Newkirk
would have us take up a collection of mink coats for the Iraqis.
With Iraqis reduced to wearing PETAÂ’s fur, in
the world according to Newkirk, it is clear that these people have hit rock
bottom. Never mind that through years of sanctions and finally by invading
their land, we were the ones who put them there. Never mind that PETA
apparently supported that invasion by regularly trotting out a staffer
identified as a U.S. Marine throughout the siege of Iraq. Never mind that
Norfolk-based PETA gave the troops calendars with pictures of
scantily-clad women along with packets of “Treats for the Troops.” Never
mind that PETA distributed posters of PlayboyÂ’s Kimberly Hefner in an
unbuttoned Uncle Sam outfit through “Stars and Stripes,” the U.S. military
newspaper given to the people ordered to invade Iraq.
. . .
>The news report on
the furs-to-Iraqis scheme said little about motives, other than to describe
the Iraqis as “needy.” But it is all equally revolting, whether itÂ’s about
PETA using the occupation to display goodly-hearted sentiments about the
Iraqi people — after sending some of the enemies of those same people over
with boxes of sweets — or whether itÂ’s just about using Iraqis as their
latest image of the “rock bottom.” One of PETAÂ’s slogans is “IÂ’d rather be
caught dead than wear fur.” However we look at it, that doesnÂ’t say much for
PETAÂ’s view of the people of Iraq.
Too bad for the animal rights movement (and good for the rest of us) that Hall’s views about PETA’s stunts seem to be in the minority.
People for the Exploitative Treatment of Arabs? Lee Hall, Dissident Voice, May 6, 2004.
Revulsion at AnimalsÂ’ Being Killed for Their Skins Spurs Gift to Be Used in Compassion Campaign. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, January 9, 2004.