Sunday, November 11, 2012

PETA: Good Or Bad?

Aah, I love talking about controversial stuff. So today, let us talk about PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
PETA (pronounced "pita") was founded in 1980 by Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pacheco. It is currently the largest animal rights organization in the world and has over 3 million members and supporters. It states that "Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any way."
I totally agree with that statement-- isn't that what animal rights is all about? It's PETA's tactics, however, that get a little bit more foggy, at least from an ethical point of view.
Some of PETA's tactics include:
  • Keeping a website about animal rights and PETA's current efforts to help animals;
  • Hold protests and demonstrations (sometimes grotesque, sometimes naked) for animal rights issues;
  • Advertise for the animal rights cause on posters, billboards, and videos (I think some are on television, but I wouldn't know, because I don't watch TV!);
  • Engage children and youth in animal-rights-related activities;
  • Hold petitions for change;
  • Keep animal shelters (which are NOT no-kill shelters).
PETA upsets people often. Take, for example, one of their advertisements which compares the animal industry to the Holocaust:

Photo Courtesy of HamptonRoads.com

I see their point in the above ad-- and it is a very good point, since the whole idea of animal rights is that animals and humans should be treated as morally equal-- but many people would be appalled. Other examples include some of PETA's sexist ads:

petawhales.jpg

Some other of PETA's sexist ads, which I won't show here because I don't want people to associate them with my blog, are much worse.

Oh, and this one has offended many autism groups:
got autism

When you couple these sorts of things with their naked protests and the fact that they euthenize many of their animals, many people begin to hate PETA's guts. I can't say that they don't have a point, but PETA does do some good things, too-- for example, they're the ones who made me want to go vegetarian in the first place! Without them, I would very possibly be an entirely different person-- although I might have gone veg eventually anyway, because of the environmental costs of meat production.
I'm also a member of the peta2 Street Team, which is for young people to join. peta2.com is a really cool website, I've got to admit. On the right hand side of my blog is an advertisement by peta2-- the one with Christofer Drew.
To be fair, this is what PETA has to say about their tactics: "Unlike our opposition—which is mostly composed of wealthy industries and corporations—PETA must rely largely on free "advertising" through media coverage. ... the media, sadly, do not consider the terrible facts about animal suffering alone interesting enough to cover. It is sometimes necessary to shake people up in order to initiate discussion, debate, questioning of the status quo, and, of course, action.
Thus, we try to make our actions colorful and controversial, thereby grabbing headlines around the world and spreading the message of kindness to animals to thousands—sometimes millions—of people. ... In the two decades since PETA was founded, it has grown into the largest animal rights group in the country, with more than 3 million members and supporters worldwide. We have also had major groundbreaking successes, such as bringing about the first-ever cruelty conviction against an animal experimenter in the case of the now-famous Silver Spring Monkeys; orchestrating the first-ever raid on an agricultural facility (a factory farm in upstate New York that raised ducks for foie gras under horribly cruel conditions); and convincing more than 200 cosmetics companies to permanently abandon animal tests."
It's up to you to decide whether or not PETA is good, bad, or somewhere in between. I think that they're in between. They can be horribly sexist and rude at times, but they do what they do for the animals, so it's a mixed bag.
See you next week!

4 comments:

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  3. I totally see the dilemma of what to think of PETA. Their concern for animals is understandable but their shocking and distasteful side of them causes me to totally steer clear of them and look for groups that use methods of communication and take actions that are responsible, legal and not offensive to others. Their style degrades humanity. I am thankful for the 'lawful' progress they have made though. Like I said, it's a 'dilemma' but, even though they do some good things, I have made my choice to look towards other sources on animal rights issues as I believe behaving in a respectful, dignified and honourable manner wins out over behaving being offensive, rude and distasteful. Some of their campaign leaves one thinking that they are anti-people which doesn't sit well with me. I am human after all... Thanks for bringing up this dilemma though as it is really good to address these type of issues.

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  4. As long as PETA considers themselves above the law and beyond normal human decency standards then they will never really succeed since thinking, honorable people will be repelled by them. Governments and most media will consider them as (possibly dangerous) nuts, entertaining perhaps but not to be taken seriously.

    The idea of protecting animals is an important message but, if every group that has a cause that they thought was right acted like PETA, then we would have civil war with people physically attacking each other, even killing those with whom they disagree. For an example of where PETA's approach takes us, see how doctors who preform abortions have been threatened with murder (and, in a few cases, actually killed), how scientists who do not think we are causing dangerous climate change have been, many times, threatened with death. This leads people to be very afraid of holding alternative views and we gradually degrade into a society where might makes right.

    In the long run, we need activists of any persuasion to behave responsibly or we go back to the caves and then, no one will care about protecting animals. PETA needs to take a step back and, after redesigning their strategy, launch an entirely new, more responsible marketing campaign.

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