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Oct. 2 2009 - 12:18 pm | 211 views | 0 recommendations | 9 comments

PETA: Pseudo, execrable, two-faced ‘activism’

peta_logoOh PETA, how I dislike you. I admit, it was the photos on your website, circa 1998, that first drew me towards veganism and the idea of animal rights. And yes, I was once a card-carrying member of your organization, receiving your newsletters, free stickers and annual pleas for donations. But PETA, I’ve long moved away from your bizarre, self-serving muddle of sexism, deceit and pseudo-activism, and I hope that your other affiliates do the same.

You are extreme – yes. Sadly for you, and even more sad for the human and non-human animals you get your hands on, that’s not a good thing. Here are five reasons for my loathing, though I’m sure there are many, many more.

1.Your sensationalism is sexist, tacky and counterproductive.

By now, most reasonable PETA-watchers can agree that the organization’s bikini-clad demonstrations or Pamela Anderson promotional videos or full-frontal nudity tactics are all guilty of using sex where sex ought not to be used. The objectification of women raises eyebrows, but it doesn’t raise questions about the treatment of animals: seeing women as meat will not stop the consumption of meat.

Case in point: since the launch of PETA’s nudie-fest “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” campaign in the early 1990s, the fur industry has seen a resurgence in popularity and a younger demographic of purchasers. Congratulations, PETA, on wasting millions of dollars on campaigns that offered up little more than offensive, cliched eye candy.

2. Freezers filled with dead animals kinda negates the idea of animal advocacy.

I was surprised when I found out that PETA voluntarily euthanizes domesticated animals. I was disgusted when I learned that of the 2,200 animals they sheltered last year, only seven were given new homes. The rest? Killed and disposed of,  according to PETA’s own “Animal Record” filed with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Granted, not every animal is healthy enough to adopt – but a 0.32 percent success rate is deplorable.

petaEven Virginia’s non-profit SPCA can adopt out 70 percent of their animals, so with a $32 million dollar annual budget, you’d think PETA might spend a little more on animal adoption and a little less on bikini-clad models. Then again, why fund animal adoption when there are so many dumpsters waiting to be filled with dead puppies, right?

3. Owning stocks in Dominoes Pizza is a problem.

When the stock market plummeted last year, PETA went on a little spending spree, buying up shares in Dominoes Pizza, Sonic Burgers and several other meat-loving enterprises. According to the organization, the intention is to create a voice for animals at shareholder meetings. Really? Because without actually changing how those shareholders – or consumers – think about animal treatment, that voice will be drowned out pretty quickly. All while the share price of the very companies you protest actually goes up courtesy of your savvy investment.

Among the companies that have benefited from PETA dollars, while continuing to serve up bacon cheeseburgers and shill wool and leather: Denny’s, Target, Tyson’s Meat, Costco, Wal-Mart, Safeway, Kroger’s, Talbots, Hormel and Cracker Barrel.

On a related note, PETA’s website offers tips for members who want to be sure their investments are animal friendly:

“Cruelty-free investing” is investing in companies, mutual funds, bonds, and other investment vehicles that do not support, cause, or contribute to animal exploitation and suffering, including the destruction of natural habitats.

4. You’re in bed with KFC.

Last year, PETA members nearly wet their pants with excitement over KFC’s agreement to abolish battery cages and replace them with “controlled-atmosphere killing” instead. Then they stampeded en masse to the nearest location of the fast-food chain, to pick up a new “faux chicken” sandwich, currently available in 65 percent of Canadian KFC locations.

Now that they’re using a bit of faux meat, KFC must have decided to throw some extra chicken onto another new menu offering: the Double Down all-meat-all-the-peta_whales-21fucking-time extravaganza. And it’s worked: since 2007, Yum! Brand, which owns KFC, has seen a 13 percent increase in share price.

5. You equate veganism with sexiness. And sexiness with weight loss.

As if women wearing lettuce wasn’t bad enough. This summer, PETA caught major flak for a billboard equating overweight Americans with whales and then suggesting vegetarianism as the solution for our country’s weight crisis. After public outcry, they took that billboard down. And replaced it with this one: “GONE. Just like the pounds lost by people who went vegetarian.”

For the record, PETA, not all vegans are thin. Nor are they all sexy. And – shock! – some of them are actually sexy despite their beer belly. Furthermore, as a group claiming to advocate for the wellbeing of animals, bringing human weight loss and health into the fray is counterproductive. Maybe veganism is healthy, and maybe sometimes it’s sexy. But selling veganism using size 2 pants is offensive, counterproductive and perpetuates nothing to do with animal rights and everything to do with body image problems. And Americans – vegan or non – have enough of those already.


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  1. collapse expand

    PETA + investment in fast food + euthanization of animals = “Today, PETA has opened up an animal shelter special for salt water pink shrimp where they will be cared for and seasoned, the shelter has been named Long John Silvers.”

    Thank you for posting your opinions on PETA, being extreme with naked protest and employing useless celebrities isn’t caring for animals, cleaning up poo-ey cages and washing up 40 lb felines that want to claw your eyes out are showing you care for them.

  2. collapse expand

    Agree. I don’t enjoy organizations that exploit woman, nor do I enjoy deceit. kthxbye.

  3. collapse expand

    Utzie, I’m curious: I think you are a few years younger than me (correct me if I’m wrong). What’s the impression among young peers about PETA? They’ve been manning a massive teen campaign in recent years, with a new all-teen-all-the-time website and a “vegan = cool” angle. I’m wondering whether it’s working.

  4. collapse expand

    Katie, that’s a varied answer, I think it could have to do with the social culture in a person’s area is. I live in southern NJ and where a great many of the people I graduated with have the typical Jersey stereotype. But there were those who contrasted from that stereotype, what people called “scene”. I remember people being associated with that clique being vegetarian and vegan and some talked about PETA, but they would mostly do it to impress the 13 year old girls that were fans of their garage bands. The only people I could have seen doing it for legitimate reasons were the preppy kids that were in the Students Against the Violation of the Earth (SAVE club). They were the only group of people that would address the use of factory farms and environmental issues.

    To answer your question, yes there were people who’d do vegetarianism for reasons of social gain, so I don’t know whether it was PETA’s advertising but I really wouldn’t be surprised if it was.

  5. collapse expand

    The complexities of food as it relates to convenience, culture, ethnicity, age, race, income, farm practices, gender, fashion and all else truly presents a challenge for any one organization to address and/or reconcile. That said, PETA can hardly be considered a success story.

    Some years back I attended a PETA forum here in Atlanta, whereupon I actually got the chance to speak with Ingrid Newkirk (founder of PETA). We had a conversation that was engaging and pleasant enough, and in the course of our chat as a result of a casual survey of those attended, I ask Ingrid why in a city like Atlanta with a 50% Black population, did she think the African-American turnout was so low; as in an audience of about 150, myself included there were only 4 or 5 Blacks. Ingrid acknowledged that it was not the first time that she had been asked that same question, saying that she had even consulted with Russel Simmons on the subject. Then, once she learned that I had been employing a plant centered diet and lifestyle for the entirety of my adult life, she gave me a pitch; attempting to recruit me as one of their spokespersons. She also noticed that I was wearing leather shoes and made a less than friendly comment about it. When I informed here that the shoes were a result of the realities of my own economic/living circumstances, she was not particularly understanding.

    In spite of this, my little faux pas with Ingrid, she did have one of her aides email me, expressing further interest in my working with PETA.

    That never transpired. I lost interest.

    And the main reason why, is that like Whole Foods, the “organic” and slow food movements, PETA and others, almost all of these organizations’ media campaings, literature, presentations, attitudes and language is geared toward middle-class to affluent Whites. Sure there’s a few token negros up in the mix here and there, but none of these organizations have demonstrated an authentic interest or whole-hearted outreach and appreciation for the unique set of variables that Blacks, the poor and other non-Pacific Northwest, uber-Whites live with each and every day.

    Save for brother Van Jones, Naomi Klein, Chris Hedges and a handfull of others, the same can be said of “greeness”.

    By and large all this liberal talk about making the world a better place grossly misses the mark. The Michael Vick incident clearly demonstrated that.

    Sure, absolutely, Michael was guilty of animal cruelty. He said so himself. And sure, he deserved to be convicted for his crimes. HOWEVER, the media onslaught and complete demoralization of the promising, young BLACK man did not have to occur in order for justice to be served.

    Michal Vick was lynched without a rope, but the net effect was all the same; humiliating he and those he stood up for–inspired all the years prior to his unceremonious white-mob beating.

    Hell yes, I stand by my words. And on the issue of liberal white supremacy, PETA and all the other aforementioned are guilty as charged…elitist–racist!

    I have no sympathies for PETA and whatever woes they incur; as it is all self-inflicted. But I am concerned about the majority of Blacks and poor in this nation who, each day–moment to moment, struggle to find food to eat and a warm, safe place to sleep. Those are the people that deserve the outreach. They (we) have needs too and are sick and tired of being sick and tired of being addressed by these so called “progressive” forward-thinking institutions and organizations that treat us like leprous children who must always be kept in check!

    F*ck that noise!

    PETA can go up in flames for all I care.

    ###

    Max Eternity, contributing writer to Artworks Magazine and editor of Art Digital Magazine, is a multi-disciplined artist who creates innovative print types reflecting the Bauhaus school and Early American modernism. Via a network of informational web portals, he advocates artistic and social concerns ranging from architectural preservation and digital literacy to government transparency, health and nutrition. An avid inventor, Max currently has over a dozen utilities and intellectual processes in various stages of development.

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