Just when it looked like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals couldn’t possibly go any lower on the poor taste meter, along comes its announcement that if McDonald’s doesn’t give in to PETA’s demands, the group will begin distributing “Unhappy Meals” to children at McDonald’s restaurants in at least 40 U.S. cities.
What’s an “Unhappy Meal”? It’s a mock-up of McDonald’s Happy meal with a horror movie-style twist. The outside of the box features Ronald McDonald holding a bloody butcher knife. Inside the box are toy animals with severed limbs and heads, according to PETA.
PETA wants McDonald’s to agree to stop buying eggs and pork from U.S. companies who confine chickens in small wire cages and pigs in stalls. PETA also wants McDonald’s to refuse to buy from producers who remove the beaks from hens to keep them from pecking each other.
If McDonald’s doesn’t agree to do so, PETA has threatened to start passing out the “Unhappy Meals” in restaurants and schools.
When asked about the threat, McDonald’s spokesman Walt Riker told Reuters, “The only letter PETA should be writing is a letter of apology to all the parents and families who have been sickened by PETA’s blood and gore ‘Unhappy meal’ assault on kids.”
As a parent who regularly takes his daughter to McDonald’s, the thought that some activist might approach my daughter and hand her this sort of thing is sickening. One of the obvious likely outcomes if PETA follows through on this is that some parent is going to show is lack of appreciation for handing his or her child an “Unhappy Meal” with dismembered toy animals by assaulting an activist.
The next obvious outcome would be a flurry of lawsuits against PETA for causing emotional distress to children. If it wasn’t for the fact that this involves children, that might be amusing to watch, but it’s hard enough to shield children from the onslaught of violent and gory images in pop culture without PETA taking it upon themselves to expose children to violent images.
This latest bizarre public stunt is typical of the animal rights movement — it has completely failed to convert people to the animal rights position, so the only thing left open are attempts to manipulate people’s emotions (which in PETA’s case, typically backfire) or outright terrorism and property destruction.
Note: If any reader out there ends up with or knows someone who ends up with one of these ‘Unhappy Meals’ I will make you a nice cash offer for one. Just e-mail me at [email protected].
Animal Rights group press McDonald’s for change. Anna Driver, Reuters, June 27, 2000.
Will Kids Find Happy Meals Hard to Stomach After PETA’s “Big Mac Attack”?. PETA press release, May 9, 2000.