I hold a special hate in my heart for PETA. In their quest for publicity and headlines, they fall to cheap tricks that are generally thought by the advertising industry to be a bit tacky.
Take PETA’s attitude towards women. Women, to PETA, should be naked, silent objects, captioned over and over with the same heading. If they keep their clothes on, they had damn well better rub vegetables all over their semi-clad bodies. Of course, this is only relevant to women with societally-acceptable bodies. Anyone else is told to “LOSE THE BLUBBER: GO VEGETARIAN“.
Then there’s the Holocaust appropriation. PETA found it perfectly acceptable to run photographs of people in the Holocaust and caption it “HOLOCAUST ON YOUR PLATE”. This was an unusually strong dick move on their part, considering that a number of Holocaust survivors and families of Holocaust victims are still alive today, and would be unlikely to be particularly happy to see their ordeal compared to a chicken nugget. This doesn’t stop PETA, of course. One local ad campaign of theirs focused on a grisly murder in Manitoba fairly soon after it happened.
For all of their tastelessness and their implicit misogyny, it surprised me to learn that PETA have only very recently decided to launch a porn site. This site will feature amateur performers and celebrities:
“There will be a lot of girl and boy next door content, but we haven’t ruled out celebrities on the site as well,” said Rajt. “People who are extraordinarily dedicated to helping animals and who are willing to do whatever it takes to draw attention to the suffering they endure.”
Just to make it that bit sexier, the porn will be juxtaposed with images of dead animals. Seriously.
I struggle to think who exactly PETA are targeting this porn website at. If they want to target it at people who want to crack one out over a video of a woman fondling a marrow, why the dead animals? And if they want to raise awareness of animal cruelty, why the porn?
It’s all for the attention, of course:
We try to use absolutely every outlet to stick up for animals … We are careful about what we do and wouldn’t use nudity or some of our flashier tactics if we didn’t know they worked.
And here’s the problem: in their quest for attention, PETA have been shamelessly exploiting humans. They have been feeding the notion that women are nothing more than objects and capitalising on horrific things that happened to humans all for the attention. And they believe that this works.
I cannot allow PETA to believe that these tactics work, and are acceptable or in any way desirable. I’m all for the ethical treatment of animals, but this sort of shit makes me want to buy a big dripping veal steak. I don’t eat meat very frequently, and it is nothing to do with PETA.
I want to stop PETA from thinking this works. The only thing I can think of is to eat more meat whenever I see such unpleasant tactics used by the organisation. Any meat. And then buy meat and NOT EAT IT so the animal died in vain. And perhaps kick a puppy, though I am squeamish about that–not because PETA ran a billboard with a naked lady, but because it’s just not a very nice thing to do.
In all seriousness, though, I think we must tell PETA how pissed off we are, and how ineffective their tactics are. I cannot think of a way that does not involve eating a lot of meat and telling them about it. I am open to comment.
10 thoughts on “If PETA treat animals the way they treat humans, I pity the animals”
Peta have become so extreme & so strident that they’ve long ceased to be of relevance. They hope to convince people to turn to their worldview by causing huge offence everywhere. This isn’t a persuasive argument from them.
Oh please! Shouting down a group for the way they put their message across is just a shallow dodge to avoid addressing what they’re actually saying. Don’t like the message? Simple: complain about the messenger. I hear people slate PETA all the time, but oddly, it’s always about their methods, not their issues. Could it be PETA make such emotive sensationalist campaigns deliberately to get people to consider the message?
If that’s what they’re trying to do, it’s an atrociously bad strategy. If you want to persuade people to eat something, you don’t slather it in shit. By making the packaging so repugnant they make it all about the delivery method & make everyone forget about what they were trying to say.
And that’s how many people see radical feminists.Too extreme, too desperate for attention, too alienating of mainstream opinion.
Good point – though there are plenty of animal rights organisations that aren’t as gratuitously offensive as Peta. I used to campaign for BUAV & Animal Aid, & although their leaflets showed horrific cruelty we never made the argument that people using (say) L’Oreal products were wilfully & knowingly torturing animals. We merely made people aware that when people heard “…because I’m worth it!” that that was being done behind the scenes, & asked for people to consider if they were really worth bunnies being blinded. Most people we spoke with were shocked & were instantly persuaded to go for cruelty free alternatives. Same with LD-50 – the LD-50 test is a travesty of science that shows us very little about a substance’s toxicity in any specific sense relevant to humans. Once it’s explained rationally & calmly to people, most people blanch & decide it’s a fucked up mess that needs changing. Piling into people with screaming accusations never wins friends.
Activism is brought on by anger so therefore any activist display fails to deliver any common sense was used in its creation. See the UK riots for example.
“Then there’s the Holocaust appropriation. PETA found it perfectly acceptable to run photographs of people in the Holocaust and caption it “HOLOCAUST ON YOUR PLATE”. This was an unusually strong dick move on their part, considering that a number of Holocaust survivors and families of Holocaust victims are still alive today, and would be unlikely to be particularly happy to see their ordeal compared to a chicken nugget.”
Not sure about this. There’s a long, long history of comparing the Holocaust to the treatment of animals – terms like “slaughter”, emphasis on the cattle-trains and so on. If you read ‘Closely Observed Trains’ by Bohumil Hrabal, he uses the Nazis’ mistreatment of animals to hint at their mistreatment of people. And then there’s Isaac Bashevis Singer, who lost a fair few people to the Shoah before bagging Yiddish Literature’s only Nobel Prize but still wrote “In relation to [animals], all people are Nazis; for the animals, it is an eternal Treblinka.”
The comparison isn’t PETA’s doing, however crass they might be, it goes back a long way and has been used in reverse. It’s also a fairly apt one, given how much the cold, mechanical efficiency was one of the main things that made the Holocaust so shocking. And again, the similarities to factory farming have long been recognised. If some people were treated like battery hens I’m sure an awful lot of Holocaust comparisons would be drawn.
Besides which, yelling at PETA “No, that’s not what the Holocaust means!” smacks of appropriation too.
Surely the point is the nature of the link?
Saying ‘people in the holocaust were treated like animals going to slaughter’ isn’t the same as saying ‘animals going to slaughter are treated like people in the holocaust’ – the former draws attention to dehumanisation while the latter is, essentially, equating the experiences of animals with that of those people who were ethnically and socially cleansed and the calculated attempt to eradicate an entire culture.
Unless you genuinely feel that the experience of a chicken on it’s way to becoming a McNugget is the same as a family going to the gas chamber, it’s a fairly repugnant comparison.
You seem to be arguing that X is like Y, but Y is not like X, and I can’t see how that makes sense unless you treat the one as unacceptable and the other as not. I don’t. If they’re similar, they’re similar, no? Obviously I’ve not read enough testimonies by Chicken McNuggets to know exactly how they feel compared to Holocaust victims, but I’m guessing fear, pain, confusion and powerlessness are common denominators. And like I said, this is a long-standing comparison that you’re labelling repugnant. Not only that, I doubt you’d describe “a Jew on his way to becoming a lampshade” in quite the same way, which I find rather telling.
Oh and I knew “dehumanisation” would crop up. A bit revealing too, wouldn’t you say? Repugnant to say it one way, a completely different thing entirely to say it the other, because you consider one group “human” and not the other. Isn’t a great deal of what’s wrong with “dehumanisation” the way we treat non-humans once we’ve revoked their status as the right kind of bald ape?
The outright offensiveness of this and this campaign are part of why they’re effective and why they’re valid comparisons. Statements like “the Nazis slaughtered their victims like cattle” or “Playboy treats women like meat” normalise the way we treat cattle and slaughter meat. Yes, it’s offensive to trivialise those issues in that way, but by being offended you recognise that you were treating the large-scale abuse of animals as trivial.
Metaphors tend to use an accepted idea – if not banal then at least already understood – to express something less accepted to the listener. Using the Holocaust as a metaphor for the meat industry shocks us and the other way round doesn’t because, while one is history’s greatest crime, we treat the other as an everyday truth. Frankly, I find that repugnant.
The only think I could think of after reading this is raping the first feminist I have the misfortune of meeting.