Please, PETA, don’t ever stop being classy
With the same sensitivity and good taste they’ve exhibited since Ingrid Newkirk took over, PETA has once again capitalized on a brutal murder, this time that of pro-choice activist Dr. George Tiller, as a platform for their increasingly vague animal rights “cause.”
A national animal rights group plans to erect billboards in Wichita urging people on both sides of the abortion debate to go vegetarian.One version of the billboard says, “Pro-Life? Go Vegetarian.” The other says, “Pro-Choice? Choose Vegetarian.” Both feature a photo of three baby chicks.
Lindsay Rajt, campaign manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said the billboards were prompted by the recent shooting death of abortion doctor George Tiller, who was killed Sunday at his church.
“The discussion of the value of life is front and center right now in the public conversation,” Rajt said.
“We think we would be irresponsible if we don’t talk about how we’re all guilty of extreme cruelty to animals every time we sit down to a meal that includes meat.”
To clarify, they want to put up the billboards in Wichita, where Dr. Tiller’s murder took place in front of his family.
I put “cause” in quotes up there because I am becoming increasingly dubious that PETA’s main purpose is still animal rescue and protection. They seem to be far more devoted to coming up with obnoxious publicity stunts that either exploit women or, in this case, make offensive, uninformed comparisons between the murder of a human being and eating a cheeseburger. In fact, considering that PETA reportedly euthanizes most of the dogs and cats it “rescues” rather than adopt them out to loving homes, it seems that animals are really rather low on their list of priorities.
I’ve written about PETA’s previous acts of shameless douchebaggery here and here, no need to reiterate why I think they’re evil and must be stopped, and yet I will. I understand the deplorable conditions of slaughterhouses and support every measure to improve them. I have nothing against vegetarianism; hell, I personally don’t eat a lot of red meat and I’ve recently discovered the deliciousness of Morningstar Farms Chik’n Nuggets. I probably could give up all meat and not miss it terribly. Since I haven’t yet met a vegan who wasn’t insufferably self-righteous I don’t hold veganism in quite as high esteem, but still, it’s a personal choice and I respect that. PETA isn’t even about vegetarians vs. meat eaters at this point, just soulless publicity whores vs. normal human beings. Hijacking Dr. Tiller’s murder by making some incoherent connection to animal rights is no better than Rush Limbaugh claiming that Michael J. Fox is faking his Parkinson’s Disease side effects for sympathy. Does anybody involved really have any idea how repulsive that is? It’s theater of the absurd, you have to wonder how much of what PETA says or does is based in sincere ignorance or ugly, blatant offensiveness.
The real question is, what do they hope to accomplish? Sure, even bad publicity, which is all PETA ever gets anymore, is still publicity, but with every new stunt like this one they continues to alienate even other vegetarians and animal rights activists, who are quick to separate themselves from the group. I don’t imagine the donations are as plentiful as they’ve been in years past, and their tax-exempt status has been in jeopardy for some time. Their association with Earth Liberation Front, a confirmed domestic terrorist group, probably isn’t helping. Their core members seem to consist mostly of misguided college students still trying to figure out which edgy political fringe group best suits them and freakish nutbags like leader Ingrid Newkirk, who allegedly included a clause in her will requesting that upon death her body should be broiled on a barbecue grill and eaten. We can only hope that they’re hanging on by a gossamer thread, and the publicity stunts are all they’ll have left.
Any time PETA pulls new shit like this, someone always claims that they’re going to eat a steak in protest. Don’t do that. Donate some money or a little bit of time to the ASPCA, the Humane Society, North Shore Animal League (world’s largest no-kill shelter, as opposed to our pals at PETA), or better yet, a local animal rescue center. The less money PETA makes, the less they’ll have to spend on disgusting billboards and hiring models to pose naked on all fours in a cage, and soon, hopefully, they’ll have nothing left to offer.