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"PETA Wins Right to Have Newest Party Animal"
August 8, 2002 1:29 PM   Subscribe

"PETA Wins Right to Have Newest Party Animal" Judge orders the D.C. Commission on the Arts to allow PETA to display an entry in an ongoing public street art exhibit featuring elephants and donkeys, entitled "Party Animals Public Art Project".
posted by mhaw (40 comments total)

 
I hope they put that one by my office so I can get depressed each day when I venture out to get my lunch. Couldn't PETA get their message across without being a drag?
posted by Mushkelley at 1:34 PM on August 8, 2002


Couldn't PETA get their message across without being a drag?

no. ; )
posted by stifford at 1:48 PM on August 8, 2002


I'm given to understand that elephants are indeed treated terribly by some circuses, and even zoos, but this is not always the case. My esteemed father-in-law, who ran away and joined the circus as a lad (yes, really), said that the circus folk loved and cared deeply for their elephants. He has some great elephant stories, but they lose something when he isn't present to tell them.

In any case, the shackles and gaffs are necessary to keep the wee beasties from hurting themselves and others; using them correctly is the point that divides animal care from animal abuse. As for loneliness... Isn't that a bit difficult to judge outside of a case-by-case basis?

More PETA grandstanding in the ole' home town. Even as a vegetarian, it pisses me off...
posted by atavistech at 1:56 PM on August 8, 2002


Do we get some kind of entry from the other PETA? Perhaps an assortment of happy tasty French donkey sausages.
posted by zygoticmynci at 1:59 PM on August 8, 2002


zygoticmynci, the hate mail from that site was hilarious.
posted by Mushkelley at 2:09 PM on August 8, 2002


From everything I've seen, PETA tends to made up of people who have been removed from any animal more wild than a house dog or cat. You can't treat animals like humans or afford them the same basic "rights" if you want to be ethical. Balancing the life of the whole planet is more complex than PETA publically puts forward.
posted by ziklagz at 2:10 PM on August 8, 2002


Matthew Penzer, PETA's legal counsel, said the ruling was a victory both for animal rights and for free speech.

To emphasize what zygoticmynci said, yeah, PETA is all about free speech.
posted by fletcher at 2:21 PM on August 8, 2002


And yet the the Green Party cannot put up their animals in the District.

PETA, their mission statement nonwithstanding, scares the hell out of me.

The preceeding two statements are not really connected.
posted by Dagobert at 2:28 PM on August 8, 2002


I hope they put that one by my office so I can get depressed each day when I venture out to get my lunch. Couldn't PETA get their message across without being a drag?

Yeah. And dontcha just hate it when murders, child abuse, war, scandal, and such are reported on the evening news?

(If you find that local supplies of sand aren't quite covering your head, cat litter may serve as a substitute...)

Why, isn't there any way that PETA could just make up little lighthearted jingles about the torture and slaughter of animals for food, fashion, and fun?

In any case, the shackles and gaffs are necessary to keep the wee beasties from hurting themselves and others;

Bullshit. Here's an incredibly novel idea. Don't capture and imprison elephants. That'll really keep the wee beasties from hurting themselves and others. Doing that is the point that really divides animal care from animal abuse.

Duh.

More PETA grandstanding in the ole' home town.

PETA is right, and I and many others support PETA wholeheartedly in their vocal efforts to protect and save animals. It is the right thing to do.

You can't treat animals like humans or afford them the same basic "rights" if you want to be ethical. Balancing the life of the whole planet is more complex than PETA publically puts forward.

Right. It's much more ethical to cage and slaughter animals for food. It's so much more ethical to burn the corneas out of rabbits in order to create exciting new lines of cosmetics. "Balancing the life of the whole planet" is so much easier when animals are hunted or polluted to extinction (all those damned species get so confusing to try and manage, don't you know). Treating animals like objects for our own use is the best thing that could possibly happen to them.

From everything I've seen, PETA tends to made up of people who have been removed from any animal more wild than a house dog or cat.

From everything I've seen, PETA detractors tend to be made up of people "who have been removed from any animal more wild" than a frozen wiener.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:31 PM on August 8, 2002


I've always thought PETA was run by a bunch of wackos, and never really thought that their inane publicity techniques appealed to anybody aside from people who already liked PETA.

A few examples that made me roll my eyes:

1) The Got Beer? campaign that was supposed to convince college students to stop drinking milk.

2) The Vege-Jesus campaign which tries to convince Christians to eschew meaty products because Christ was probably a veggie.

3) Playboy Bunny serving soy-dogs to Congresspeople on Capitol Hill.

With these few examples in mind, how are we supposed to take them seriously? Beer, God, T&A and a few Congressmen? Sounds like a party.
posted by bemmett at 2:43 PM on August 8, 2002


How come everywere I go on Metafilter, someone wants me to be mad at the world around me? Why can't I enjoy my life and engage in conversation with others and not be labelled an ostrich for not getting outraged? I seriously hope I don't have to walk past a statue of a tortured elephant each day as I get my gyro, or my cheesesteak or my chicken sandwhich, or my elephant burger.
posted by Mushkelley at 2:47 PM on August 8, 2002


Ugh, the ACLU was working with PeTA.

This is the first time in my whole life that I am bothered by something they are doing. Thier work to allow neo-nazi rallies and stuff never buged me but this does. bleh.

PeTA sucks
posted by delmoi at 2:47 PM on August 8, 2002


Publicity is about getting attention in any way that works. Apparently in this case it did work because you remember it bemmett.

I gotta agree with foldy on this.
posted by Red58 at 2:48 PM on August 8, 2002


Yeah. And dontcha just hate it when murders, child abuse, war, scandal, and such are reported on the evening news?

See, the difference is, those things matter. Killing animals for food or even clothing doesn't.

Don't capture and imprison elephants.

Why? Is it immoral to capture elephants? I haven't seen that one in the Bible, the Qu'ran, the Torah, or any other religious texts. Maybe its part of your made up religion called 'lets bitch and moan about how all the cute animals get killed with no real principles behind our arguments'?
posted by insomnyuk at 2:56 PM on August 8, 2002


Tasty animals.
posted by bargle at 2:57 PM on August 8, 2002


< in any case, the shackles and gaffs are necessary to keep the wee beasties from hurting themselves and others;>

Bullshit. Here's an incredibly novel idea. Don't capture and imprison elephants. That'll really keep the wee beasties from hurting themselves and others. Doing that is the point that really divides animal care from animal abuse.

Duh.


Well, the problem is that the elephants are already here, you see. You can stop their import if you like, but the ones that live here have to be taken care of. Elephants, if you'll pardon my stating of the obvious, are big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big they are-- er, sorry. Anyway, the thing is, elephants like to wander around and, well, be elephants. They step on stuff, or knock it over, and this is usually taken to be a bad thing.

So, one might ask, why not simply ship them back to wherever they came from in the first place, and let them go back to being elephants of leisure? The answer is that many of them have become socialized by human contact, and would require lengthy preparation for a return to the wild; otherwise they would have a very difficult time interacting with their fellow elephants, and elephants fights can be nasty. Some may not be eligible for return to the wild at all, as they may be too old, or unhealthy. These will require human care, or they will die unpleasantly.

While in human custody, they must be prevented from going on walkabout. One way to do this is by placing insurmountable barriers around them. I live very close to the National Zoo, and have seen this work pretty well. If one doesn't have the option of permanent structure, some type of restraint is really the only solution, although this should be applied, obviously, with great care so as to avoid injury.

As for the gaff hooks, I found them very scary the first time I ever saw one, but a close friend, recently employed by the Zoo, assures me that when properly used, there is almost no contact with the animal, and that they are absolutely not meant to be used as a weapon; anyone doing so is abusing the elephant, quite simply.

So... yes. The elephant. Very nice. Yes, indeedy. Good day...
posted by atavistech at 2:59 PM on August 8, 2002


I totally agree that they're doing an amazing job at creating attention. I certainly remember their crazy campaigns, yes. However, I'm certainly not going to become a vegetarian or support their cause because it made some indellible mark on my mind for the simple reason that their appeals to my ethical side seem very poorly reasoned, childish and unserious.

I'm sure they think they're being clever and getting people to "think about the issue", but if anything these asinine attempts to be shocking do nothing more than make average folk think they're not worth paying any real attention to.
posted by bemmett at 3:04 PM on August 8, 2002


From everything I've seen, PETA detractors tend to be made up of people "who have been removed from any animal more wild" than a frozen wiener.

Thanks for the observation, Foldy (weak as it is). I couldn't be laughing at you harder. How much experience do you have with "wild animals"? Does it match mine? Want to take bets?

Every time PETA comes up in a thread there are those who claim that its detracters are universalists that accept all unethical behaviors towards animals in favor of what pleases the masses. But then a rather reasonable statement like this:

You can't treat animals like humans or afford them the same basic "rights" if you want to be ethical. Balancing the life of the whole planet is more complex than PETA publically puts forward.

is immediately countered with generalist diatribe. So what exactly is wrong with treating each case individually? We afford humans that respect, don't we? Oh wait, humans are the immoral ones ...
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:05 PM on August 8, 2002


Why? Is it immoral to capture elephants? I haven't seen that one in the Bible, the Qu'ran, the Torah, or any other religious texts. Maybe its part of your made up religion called 'lets bitch and moan about how all the cute animals get killed with no real principles behind our arguments'?

Please be aware that some people get their morality from a rational, deductive thought process rather than ancient fiction. Those who buy into the discount Moral ComboDeal that is organized religion are much more often ignorant of the principles behind their morality. If there are any.
posted by tirade at 3:25 PM on August 8, 2002


I see nothing wrong with this ruling. Let them go out and marginalize themselves even more. Sure 'white trash wins lotto' celebrities and old women with a housefull of cats will continue to send them money for their ridiculous ad campaigns while most rational people would rather contribute to organizations that do more than just bitch like the Humane Society.

Not to mention PETA money goes to nuts like the Earth Liberation Front.
PETA has also given $2,000 to David Wilson, then a national spokesperson for ALF, who has told the press: "We started with animal rights, but we've expanded to wildlife actions like the one in Vail."

"The one in Vail" was the 1998 ELF firebombing of a Vail, Colorado ski resort, which destroyed $12 million in property and endangering dozens of firefighters.

PETA's ties with terrorists are nothing new. PETA served as the de facto spokesgroup for ALF in the late 1980's, holding press conferences to praise ALF criminals and field media questions just hours after laboratories were destroyed or buildings burned down.

And in 1995, PETA gave $45,200 to the "support committee" of Rodney Coronado, a convicted arsonist who firebombed a research facility at Michigan State University, and also "loaned" $25,000 to Coronado's father. (He never paid it back, and PETA never complained.)

The same year that PETA lined terrorist Coronado's pockets, the animal rights group spent less than $3,955 on animal shelters.

posted by skallas at 3:36 PM on August 8, 2002


boy, you guys really hate PETA alot, huh?

my .02: All of those "public sculptures" in cities all over the world are sad, mostly, and mildly amusing at best...but for DC to use loaded and emblematic political symbols to begin with, and then pick and choose which political groups can sponsor them is just dumb.
ok, i'm done...back to fighting over PETA...sorry for the interruption...
posted by amberglow at 4:01 PM on August 8, 2002


a rational, deductive thought process

Sorry for leaving the objectivists out, tirade, but where do objectivists allow for equal treatment between animals and humans?
posted by insomnyuk at 4:14 PM on August 8, 2002


Hmm, the "other" meats. I never even thought about trying those out.

Thanks for the suggestion PeTA, but where can I get an elephant steak, and is donkey really that safe to consume?

Mmmmm... Just imagine how many people can elephant can feed! Oh yeah. Throw on some liquid smoke and bacos and we've got ourselves a tasty little (ok, elephant sized) BBQ!

>PETA is right, and I and many others support PETA wholeheartedly in their vocal efforts to protect and save animals.

...from what, exactly? Being eaten by humans rather than other animals? Because that's what happens when living things die, unless they can cremate themselves. They get eaten by other living things. You know, the whole ecosystem, food chain, and all that jazz.
posted by shepd at 4:18 PM on August 8, 2002


Yeah. And dontcha just hate it when murders, child abuse, war, scandal, and such are reported on the evening news?

See, the difference is, those things matter. Killing animals for food or even clothing doesn't.


And here is the fundamental difference of opinion. Is there any way that someone could convince you that an animal's life has inherent value? Maybe PETA's reasoning is that if you see enough elephants in pain, cows cut open, and blind bunnies, you'll feel some empathy and reevaluate your beliefs.

Being eaten by humans rather than other animals? Because that's what happens when living things die, unless they can cremate themselves.

The point is that those animals would not even be born, and suffer the way we make them suffer, if people did not raise them to eat them. Try reading PETA's simple and convincing FAQ on being a vegetarian.
posted by emyd at 4:36 PM on August 8, 2002


Jesus, insomnyuk, are you seriously arguing that there is no possible moral philosophy that calls for the humane treatment of animals? Is this just some sort of Socratic method deal you're pulling on us, or are you actually that ignorant?

If you insist on a religion, there's Jainism and several branches of Hinduism. We can even find moral guidance by restricting ourselves to religions that the most parochial of Americans is familiar with; here's Proverbs 12:10: "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." An essay connecting animal rights to teachings in the bible can be found here.

As for moral philosophies outside of religion, you can't possibly think that objectivism is the only one. Objectivism! Hell, objectivist writings barely contain a coherent thought process, let alone a moral philosophy. Here is an essay examining the philosophical underpinnings of animal rights. Now go educate yourself.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:42 PM on August 8, 2002


I don't hate PETA as such, but I think they do a lot of damage to what are (in the most part) sensible and laudable causes. You've only got to look at the widespread public perception of them - i.e. a bunch of humourless, hysterical nuts - to realise that their campaigns really don't achieve anything other than pissing people off. Furthermore, they give a negative image to vegetarianism and animal rights as whole, just like people who attack bosses of animal testing labs at their homes, or who kill politicians to protest about the fur trade. In both those cases I thoroughly supported the cause in question; animal testing is an odious practice and people who wear fur are sickening (as well as lacking in any conceivable style). Both those events infuriated me because the behaviour of the activist lent considerable weight to the other side's argument (and in the latter case poured petrol on entirely different bonfire.) PETA, to a lesser degree, do the same thing. I agree with their ideals, I despair at the way they present them.
posted by zygoticmynci at 4:47 PM on August 8, 2002


Hmmm... PETA as "party animals." Normally, PETA strikes me as pretty humorless. On the other hand, they did urge college students to stop drinking milk and drink more beer.
posted by jonp72 at 6:36 PM on August 8, 2002


Maybe PETA's reasoning is that if you see enough elephants in pain, cows cut open, and blind bunnies, you'll feel some empathy and reevaluate your beliefs.

Or maybe we'll become desensitized to it and it will matter less and less to us -- just as has happened when other horrors received widespread attention. That's a great strategy!
posted by kindall at 6:59 PM on August 8, 2002


Is there any way that someone could convince you that an animal's life has inherent value?

I don't think that animals are without inherent value, I simply think that they are subordinate to humans.

Jesus, insomnyuk, are you seriously arguing that there is no possible moral philosophy that calls for the humane treatment of animals?

Perhaps people have a moral obligation to be kind to animals before they kill them, I'm certainly not advocating cruelty, but to attempt to give animals legal rights and protections on par with people is sheer madness. The problem is, their definition of humane is far different than mine. To some of these extremists, "humane" means getting rid of the humans and letting all of the beautiful animals roam free...to kill each other. I don't really see the difference, dead is dead.

Is this just some sort of Socratic method deal you're pulling on us, or are you actually that ignorant?

I'm not smart enough or stupid enough (in my opinion) to meet either of those criteria.

here's something from one of your sources, mr_roboto:
It is not rational to discriminate arbitrarily.

How does that work? People arbitrarily discriminate all the time. People are irrational. Just because something I do is termed irrational does not make it immoral.

Justice is the highest principle of ethics. We are not to commit or permit injustice so that good may come, not to violate the rights of the few so that the many might benefit.

Maybe I am being Socratic. From where are these ethics derived? What is their notion of justice? The list of 'reasons' looks like its from athiests/secular humanists, who are religious in their own way. Their moral code, it seems, is completely arbitrary, which is ironic when one remembers that they decry 'discrimination' against animals as arbitrary. If it's not objectivism they are using, is it relativism? I don't think those labels are descriptive enough, can you provide a more apt term for this school of thought?

The link you provided for a Christian view of animal rights cites Scriptures as a warning against animal cruelty. There are good Biblical reasons to take good care of animals, but they conflict with your list of ten reasons, because they are certainly not derived from the same foundation, and they disagree fundamentally on notions of justice, equality, and ethics.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:50 PM on August 8, 2002


Peta as an organization of more separate local groups do more for animal rights than those do in the spotlight.

You will always hear the insensitive remarks of those supposedly in charge in the news, well, because it is news ... and it sparks debate, like the one we are having here.

While I support Peta as an organization, I do question some of their strategies, just as I do our government and any other organization whether it be profit or non-profit.

Also, for every insensitive remark and action by those who are in the public eye, there are thousands of animal rights activists who work in governments, schools, charities, etc. who do much more for the animal rights movement than those who make you dislike Peta and animal rights activists in general. Those of us know when to draw a line, know when to spark a healthy debate and stick our necks out for animal rights where others do not.

Remember, when most people defend Peta, they are defending Peta's root cause, defending animals in a non-violent, education orientated way.
posted by jasonspaceman at 8:00 PM on August 8, 2002


One other question: if Peta is allowed to put something up as part of the Part Animals Project, why the hell can't the Green Party, or the Reform Party, or the Libertarian Party, or the Socialist Workers Party, or (God forbid) the Natural Law party? I mean, Peta doesn't even run candidates for elections, do they?
posted by insomnyuk at 8:22 PM on August 8, 2002


emyd sez:
>The point is that those animals would not even be born, and suffer the way we make them suffer, if people did not raise them to eat them

Mangling a Tennyson quote, I say:

Is it not better to have lived and lost than not to have lived at all?

Truth be told, I doubt cows and sheep would still exist on this earth at this point if people weren't tending to them. They're just too damn dumb.

Pigs would probably still be here. And, of all the animals that people eat regularly, this would be the one that gets the least sympathy from me, considering pigs have eaten people back.

Anyways, since we're on the debate of being nice to all animals, I always wonder, do vegans completely understand that they can't be so? I mean, you don't rinse your vegetables in bleach, do you? How can you be sure you aren't biting into a micro-organism? How are they any less important than a cow? At what point does something becomes "animal enough" that you refuse to eat it? When it has four legs?

I am not anti-animal rights. However, I'm not pro-animal rights either. But I am pro-human rights. And a human right is the right to eat meat.

>And here is the fundamental difference of opinion. Is there any way that someone could convince you that an animal's life has inherent value? Maybe PETA's reasoning is that if you see enough elephants in pain, cows cut open, and blind bunnies, you'll feel some empathy and reevaluate your beliefs.

Seen enough cows cut open, TYVM. I've been to a _real_ butchers, and to the stocks.

But I don't see a lot of pain on the cows when they're cut open. Probably because they're already dead. And the places that don't run shops like that aren't ethical.

Now, before you say that anything that dies has to suffer, read this. There's a lot of ways things can die without suffering. A bolt to the head, done properly, is one of them (but, for obvious reasons, not listed there). In fact, if death were inherent in suffering, why does this man exist?

As with everything else in life, animal "suffering" isn't a black and white issue. The cruel joke is that people try to make a statement to cover all cases, and, unless its mathematics, they always fail. Miserably. And that's why PeTA will never gain a good reputation until they decide to reconsider the issue of animal rights in terms other than the absolute.

Heck, people can't even agree at what point killing someone is murder, so why does PeTA try to appeal to some kind of "common sense" which, in reality, doesn't exist?
posted by shepd at 11:04 PM on August 8, 2002


Anyone was allowed to sponsor a Party Animal. It was part of a public art project. The Holiday Inn sponsored a donkey called "The Women in Washington Are Beautiful-Sophisticated, Too!"
posted by emyd at 11:09 PM on August 8, 2002


Ah, sorry shepd, I somehow missed that on preview.

I feel kind of silly repeating an argument that has been done so many times before. So I will just say that when I said "suffer" I do not just mean in the (hopefully) short moments before their death, but rather more suffering than should be acceptable during the rest of their brief lives. Of course it isn't a black and white issue, but if you are a large organization you can't deliver messages in the format of "hey, sometimes animals are mistreated, why don't you bad people stop that, you know who you are."

Anyway, to go back to the original topic of the post: I don't even see how the PETA elephant is really that offensive. While it may not be appropriate to use a public art project as a tool to further their political agenda, they did it more tastefully than they could have.
posted by emyd at 11:55 PM on August 8, 2002


fold_and_mutilate - It's so much more ethical to burn the corneas out of rabbits in order to create exciting new lines of cosmetics.

Yes, it is.
posted by NortonDC at 5:57 AM on August 9, 2002


jasonspaceman-
Remember, when most people defend Peta, they are defending Peta's root cause, defending animals in a non-violent, education orientated way.


I agree wholeheartedly. Also, I find this to be true for the opposing side as well. ie., people criticizing specific PeTA actions can be so personally offended at the notion of others caring for the well being of animals that they'll look to any rationale to try to shut PeTA up.

As a vegetarian of about a year and a half, I find myself amazed at the level to which people can be personally offended by the choice to not eat meat/animal products for ethical reasons.

Of course, those veggies who like to remind people they disapprove of meat eating are asking for arguments, but what about the non-preachy ones? Any insights?
posted by Adam_S at 12:12 PM on August 9, 2002


I find myself amazed at the level to which people can be personally offended by the choice to not eat meat/animal products for ethical reasons.

I would liken it to attending a strip club wearing really dark sunglasses and screaming "put your clothes back on!"
posted by insomnyuk at 12:24 PM on August 9, 2002


I would liken it to attending a strip club wearing really dark sunglasses and screaming "put your clothes back on!"

A reasonable comparison, if the vegetarian in question was yelling at you to stop eating meat. You aren't answer Adam's question. I'd like to know, too. Why is the simple decision to be vegetarian, minus any proselytizing, offensive in and of itself to many meat eaters?
posted by Fenriss at 12:40 PM on August 9, 2002


Fenriss sez: Why is the simple decision to be vegetarian, minus any proselytizing, offensive in and of itself to many meat eaters?

Not me. I eat meat and I have no qualms whatsoever with vegetarianism or veganism, other than sympathy for finding actual non-tainted food to eat — I admit that finding real, healthy natural food is incredibly difficult, and not inexpensive. Actually, I find that people are only vegan and vegetarian when they have the luxury to be that way. I honestly don't hear about all the vegans living below the poverty line.

So, I'm an omnivore. I eat a balanced diet of meat and vegetables (and I don't eat a lot of meat, either — no pork, for instance), and I'd say I'm generally healthy and grateful for the noble animals that provided my meal.

I think the irritation is based around the "piety" that the rules of vegetarianism/veganism emit onto those that are not held by such laws. Someone who wouldn't want more restrictions placed on their lives may not condone the actions of those that would. It's a conflict of interest.

After all, those who keep Kosher are also met with confused and unwelcome reactions from those that do not.
posted by Down10 at 2:11 AM on August 10, 2002


Whoops. Pardon my back-peddling, but I was refering to the U.S. —Nevermind Third World places like India where both the poverty level and veganism are quite popular.
posted by Down10 at 2:14 AM on August 10, 2002


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