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PETA tries to ride yet another publicity bandwagon.
March 21, 2001 6:17 AM   Subscribe

PETA tries to ride yet another publicity bandwagon. Man, could they be more pathetic in trying to milk the news for desperately-needed attention?
posted by darren (47 comments total)

 
In related news... there will be a 'silent march' commemorating the animals destroyed during the current foot & mouth outbreak, in Amsterdam this Sunday afternoon. (no English links available... thank god.)
posted by prolific at 6:25 AM on March 21, 2001


Among my favorite People Eating Tasty Animals limelight-hogging campaigns: End the Iditerod Race, Stop Survivor, Don't Got Milk, The March of Dimes/Crimes, and ask the Boy Scouts to eliminate the fishing merit badge. Also, did you know Jesus was a vegetarian? Didn't remember reading that in Mark or Luke.
On the plus side, love their spay or neuter your cat commercial.
posted by darren at 6:26 AM on March 21, 2001


So much for trying to prove a point.
posted by fleener at 6:36 AM on March 21, 2001


Given that they are an activist group fighting for media attention with every other activist group out there (plus Madonna who is always trying to hog more than her fair share of attention) I don't see anything really pathetic about it. If you believe that meat is murder, as many do, then there is logic to their request that the murderer not be allowed to kill again. As PETA reminds us on their site MeatStinks.com, "Every year in the U.S., more than 8 billion animals are slaughtered for food—that's more than 250 animals per second." Pretty shocking when you think about it.
posted by Outlawyr at 6:38 AM on March 21, 2001


As much as I despise PETA, they're not being pathetic; they're being very shrewd. They know that the news media is completely incapable of resisting a good hook, no matter how full of BS it may be. And the more supposedly-irrational and bizarre their claims, the more journalists will be orgasming over the prospect of reporting them.

PETA knows that they piss off tons of people every time they say something like this; it's all part of the plan. They may piss you off, but in the process their main contention gets out there - animal rights uber alles - and everyone ends up talking about it. (You wait and see; this thread will likely end up morphing into a discussion about animal rights instead of about stupid stunts.) And thus PETA wins.

If you talk to any of those PETA women who take off all their clothes to protest, they'll all tell you it makes them feel completely sleazy and humiliated. They don't care, because the TV producers will always - ALWAYS - put a naked girl on the air if they can provide a pseudolegitimate reason for doing so. The "reason" is animal rights, which will inevitably be brought up by the anchor or reporter. (You can't just report "Some bimbo stripped in front of City Hall today. In other news...") And thus PETA wins. The only way to stop them is to stop all discussion of them and their tactics whatsoever. And the media will never do that as long as PETA keeps on spoon-feeding them wackyness.
posted by aaron at 6:41 AM on March 21, 2001



trying to milk the news

Isn't milking the news a bit cruel? I mean, how do you think the news feels, all cooped up in there, and then being trotted out between 5:00 and 7:00 every day, and being milked anytime somebody wants to make a point? The news should be free, man, the news should be free.

(sorry, I couldn't resist.)
posted by iceberg273 at 6:42 AM on March 21, 2001


"Pretty shocking when you think about it."

Oh yes. The fact that people eat food is very shocking.

I oppose cruelty to animals, but killing them and eating them isn't unethical. Such logical constructs lead to a mind set where stunts like the McVeigh’s letter seem reasonable and effective. It's called delusion.

"And thus PETA wins."

PETA doesn't win by constantly demonstrating how wacko they are, they only ensure that more people are reminded of it. No one is turned by this.

I personally find this segment of the lunatic fringe to be very amusing, but sometimes I wonder if it's really a spoof. Like maybe PETA and the Onion are really the same. Why do their actions ALWAYS seem like an Onion article? Notice that we never see them together at the same time. Hmmmm........
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:56 AM on March 21, 2001


That's the final artificially flavored straw for me...I'm finally convinced to end my membership with PETA!

Anyone with me on joining the RLF?
posted by samsara at 7:13 AM on March 21, 2001


Spend an hour at a slaughterhouse, then tell me you're still comfortable with eating meat. Spend an hour observing cows raised for veal and tell me you're still comfortable eating meat. Unpack chickens being shipped to the slaughterhouse and tell me you're still comfortable eating meat.

How meat is obtained today is unethical. That's why alternative farmers are making loads of money selling humanely (well, as humanely as possible given the purpose at hand) raised animals - such as "cage free" eggs, "range-fed turkeys," etc.
posted by fleener at 7:17 AM on March 21, 2001


I oppose cruelty to animals, but killing them and eating them isn't unethical

.... never mind. fleener beat me to it.
posted by bliss322 at 7:23 AM on March 21, 2001


I'll admit that PETA has a responsibility to get attention, and as pointed out, making plays *keyed* to get media attention is shrewd.

The thing which really gets me mad is that there is no mention in the PETA letter of the capital punishment, the obliteration of a *human* life which "last meal" implies.

If PETA were idealogically consistent it would acknowledge that human life is also a precious thing, worthy of preservation. Instead, we get an exhortation to choose bean burritos instead of baby back ribs.
posted by artlung at 7:24 AM on March 21, 2001


Our evolutionary ancestors kicked and clawed their way to the top of the food chain. If we turn our backs on eating meat, we are dishonoring their memories.

Seriously, though, I don't think that any amount of time in an abattoir would be enough to make me give up my Wendy's double w/ cheese (no onions).

But I'm with PETA on this one limited issue. Not from an animal rights stand, however. I just figure anyone who did something that heinous should have tofu for his last meal. It might run afoul of the cruel and inhuman punishment clause of the Constitution, but it seems like a defensible gray area to me.
posted by anapestic at 7:51 AM on March 21, 2001


I grew up hunting and trapping for food to put on the dinner table, or otherwise we would have starved to death... so when some bloated organization comes along and tells me that I don't have the right to kill an animal for food, or eat meat at all, or that the way they were raised in commercial plants is terrible and disgusting, then pretty much all I have to say is...
"Yeah, but it sure tastes great!"
And I HAVE worked at those plants, seen how they treat the animals, blah blah blah. ( the pay was terrible...thank God for college....)
Sometimes we have to admit, we are what we are. Animals. And we will eat.
So bring on the meat.
posted by bradth27 at 7:56 AM on March 21, 2001


They could get him to eat dilberitos which are vegan approved inedible burritos.
posted by samsara at 8:00 AM on March 21, 2001


so when some bloated organization comes along and tells me that I don't have the right to kill an animal for food, or eat meat at all

PETA doesn't make laws, they just try and raise awareness for how bad meat is for you, the environmental consequences of raising cattle, etc., and how those animals are treated. They are very media savvy, and like aaron said, they're getting exactly what they want out of this: we're all talking about it, aren't we?
posted by mathowie at 8:08 AM on March 21, 2001


The thing which really gets me mad...

I'm a former vegetarian, but I never fell for the PETA line. Still, I'm always amazed at how pissed off people get at the actions of PETA. Their tactics are often a bit extreme, but overall their effect is pretty innocuous. I am genuniely curious as to why it bothers people so much? It reminds me, in some way, of the way people get so incensed at end-zone celebrations in football. It's obviously ridiculous, but what do you care?

I'm not trying to flame here, but I have to think that part of people's reaction is out of guilt. I think most of us are aware of how poorly livestock are treated, but we don't want someone shoving it in our faces. I know I don't like to think about it...
posted by jpoulos at 8:09 AM on March 21, 2001


""Pretty shocking when you think about it."
Oh yes. The fact that people eat food is very shocking."

Actually, it was the 250 animals slaughtered per second that I found shocking. The fact that people eat food is not shocking. The fact that people eat animals is unfortunate, but not shocking. The magnitude of the slaughter is, however, hard to get your mind around.
posted by Outlawyr at 8:11 AM on March 21, 2001


Actually, the campaign to end the Iditerod Race is one that has also been a long-time program of the Humane Society.
posted by bgluckman at 8:12 AM on March 21, 2001


Aren't dilberitos the illegitimate Mexican children fathered by Dilbert?
posted by darren at 8:31 AM on March 21, 2001


damn. you know, being put to death by the state only hurts for a second, but being forced to go vegetarian? that settles it: the life of crime is not for me. i'm on the straight and narrow now, you betcha!
posted by Sapphireblue at 8:36 AM on March 21, 2001


I oppose cruelty to animals, but killing them and eating them isn't unethical.

Tell that to a strict Buddhist. I don't see any serious ethical issues with eating meat either (and I'm a vegetarian, to boot), but people disagree about things.

And PETA are nutjobs, but at least they produced this little masterpiece.
posted by snarkout at 8:39 AM on March 21, 2001


"so when some bloated organization comes along and tells me that I don't have the right to kill an animal for food, or eat meat at all"

PETA doesn't make laws, they just try and raise awareness for how bad meat is for you, the environmental consequences of raising cattle, etc.,

I never said they pass laws, I said they tell me I don't have the right to do it. And believe me, they have.
Just wanted to make myself clear. No harm intended.
posted by bradth27 at 8:41 AM on March 21, 2001


anapestic, you've obviously never had good tofu. It may be a funny sounding word, accentuated if you don't know tofu is really just soybeans, but rest assured it can be extremely delicious.
posted by fleener at 8:42 AM on March 21, 2001


Actually, it was the 250 animals slaughtered per second that I found shocking.

Think that's shocking? Check out the amount of resources we use to produce those 250 animals per second.

e.g.: U.S. agriculture accounts for 87 percent of all the fresh water consumed each year. Livestock directly use only 1.3 percent of that water. But when the water required for forage and grain production is included, livestock's water usage rises dramatically. Every kilogram of beef produced takes 100,000 liters of water. Some 900 liters of water go into producing a kilogram of wheat. Potatoes are even less "thirsty," at 500 liters per kilogram.


That boggled my mind. Never mind the suffering: those animals are using up my fresh water. I can (and do) live without a Big Mac, but I sure can't live without that tasty H2O.
posted by iceberg273 at 8:44 AM on March 21, 2001


PETA doesn't win by constantly demonstrating how wacko they are, they only ensure that more people are reminded of it. No one is turned by this.

I think all of this ham-handed press whoring has helped PETA far more than it has hurt the group. If they were moderate and reasonable, no one would ever have heard of them.
posted by rcade at 8:47 AM on March 21, 2001


I live without Big macs too. But a Bacon Double cheeseburger? No way!
They are, in fact, water guzzling maniacs obsessed with our eventual demise. I say we slaughter 'em all now, and start eating squirrel sandwiches instead.
Possum is mighty tasty too, I hear.
to do list-- look up a restaurant that serves bacon-double possumburgers......
posted by bradth27 at 8:48 AM on March 21, 2001


Aren't dilberitos the illegitimate Mexican children fathered by Dilbert?

But, of course! I've had a some friends try them and thought they were very bland....er, the burritos not the friends :)
posted by samsara at 8:49 AM on March 21, 2001


fleener, I have had good tofu. I just think there's more bad tofu than good tofu out there.

Besides, for Mr. McVeigh, I was thinking of the medium soft tofu, served up in it's little plastic carton, still in the water. Maybe with a side of plain tempeh.

Or they could just pump the silken stuff in through the IV. Avoids the need for the standard lethal injection.
posted by anapestic at 9:04 AM on March 21, 2001


White Wave firm or extra firm tofu is pretty good.
posted by sudama at 9:10 AM on March 21, 2001


If McVeigh had bombed the PETA headquarters he'd be a hero. I'd even be in favor of naming a burger chain after him.
posted by bondcliff at 9:18 AM on March 21, 2001


I went to the MSNBC linked news story (above), and just about laughed my ass off. Right there on the right in an ad space was "4 (8 oz.) Rib Eyes - $59.00 Sale $39.99 OmahaSteaks.com - more Meats" (screen grab here if you missed it).

Hilarious mismatch - reminds me of the time that we (at msnbc when I worked there) had a banner ad for an MSN Red Baron fighting game on our homepage at the same time as a report of a horrible plane crash was breaking. I pointed out the inappropriateness of an ad featuring a plane going down in flames on a front page with the headlines "Air Tragedy". Autmated ad rotation isn't always the best.
posted by kokogiak at 9:28 AM on March 21, 2001


i have little respect for stupid people--i know, its bad--and less respect for those man-made bio machines called cows--i know, i'm so mean--i'm not a vegetarian but will be someday, but because of environmental concerns, not losing sleep over eating meat. For now i eat my chicken nuggets and hamburgers in peace and just try not to think about it...
posted by th3ph17 at 10:07 AM on March 21, 2001


Think that's shocking? Check out the amount of resources we use to produce those 250 animals per second.


Feh. If you're ethically or morally opposed to gnawing on sweet, sweet animal flesh, just say so. Couching it in oh-my-golly figures and dodgy, exclusionary math isn't doing anyone any good. Resource statistics on any global industry are bound to look startling just because by definition, the figures are going to be freaking huge.

Or, then again, you could always rethink those problematic cotton clothes. Or perhaps cut down on your rice intake.
posted by Skot at 10:18 AM on March 21, 2001


"How meat is obtained today is unethical. That's why alternative farmers are making loads of money selling humanely (well, as humanely as possible given the purpose at hand) raised animals - such as "cage free" eggs, "range-fed turkeys," etc."

Yes, there is big money in "guilt free meat." Herbal remedies and $4.00 cups of coffee will also make you some good cake. You know what P.T. Barnum said...

Ethical, shmethical. Is it ethical when a tiger takes down a gazelle? Not from the gazelle's point of view. The animal kingdom uses a little system called the "food chain." We've been on the top of it for a long time now (ever since the monolith told the monkey to hit the leopard with the bone) because humans are... surprise... animals! Sure, we have opposable thumbs and we can do crossword puzzles better than dolphins but that doesn't take away the fact that we are just animals at heart.

Eat what you want to eat. I'll eat what I want to eat. But if you tell me the way I'm getting my food is unethical I'll be happy to chase down a cow, tear it to sheds with my bare hands, and begin eating it while it's still alive. After all, that's what some of those beloved animals do that PETA is so concerned with.

Cows, chickens, pigs, etc are food. They should be treated like food the second Farmer Brown inserts the Cow-Knocker-Upper-5000 into Bessie.

Free-range food is a joke. I'll sleep better at night knowing I put an unhappy animal out of its misery rather than killing a pig that slept on a comfy pillow while it waited to die.
posted by bondcliff at 11:20 AM on March 21, 2001


Skot: Feh.

Feh indeed.

If you're ethically or morally opposed to gnawing on sweet, sweet animal flesh, just say so.

I avoid gnawing on sweet, sweet animal flesh for environmental and personal health reasons. People sometimes do things for reasons that have nothing to do with traditional ethics. If anyone else wants to eat meat, I've got no beef with them. I choose not to eat meat, and I choose to point out that we're building a house of cards in the United States in terms of our use of resources (especially important things like fresh water). No one needs to listen to me or follow my example. Although I'd be real happy if you did. ;)

Couching it in oh-my-golly figures and dodgy, exclusionary math isn't doing anyone any good. Resource statistics on any global industry are bound to look startling just because by definition, the figures are going to be freaking huge.

So let's avoid the freaking huge numbers. Let's look instead at the comparative numbers. If you want to produce some food for people to eat, you're basically producing stored energy. For every 35 kilocalories of fossil fuel energy that you invest in beef, you get 1 kilocalorie of food energy in return. That's lousy. So let's range feed the cattle (of course, that increases the amount of land that is used for range feeding, but that's another problem). Great, now we've got the ratio down to 10:1 (fossil fuel energy in to food energy out). Cool! But wait: what about the grain? Corn comes in at 2:5, grain at 5:1, and a decent source of protein (since that's ostensibly why we've eating sweet, sweet flesh), the soybean has an energy ratio of 4.2:1. So it's not just oh-my-golly figures. Livestock production is wasteful by relative measures as well.

Or, then again, you could always rethink those problematic cotton clothes. Or perhaps cut down on your rice intake.

Then again, I'm here in the US, not in Asia. Here, we're not growing rice to feed billions of people (thank goodness). So right now, rice isn't what what's using up the bulk of my fresh water. Note that the article that you linked to points out that water use could be decreased through different crops and better [bio]technology. That's all I was suggesting for here in the US. In Asia, it's rice growing that's the most guilty party. Here, it's beef and pork. We've got to eat and drink - but we also need to act wisely so that we leave something for the future. Given that we're basically new arable land and that our population will probably continue to grow, we're going to have to deal with this eventually. (BTW - my wife and I get a lot of our clothing from thrift stores in order to try to reuse (and save ourselves money))
posted by iceberg273 at 11:36 AM on March 21, 2001


I've often wondered what animal rights activists would think if we came up with a way to insure farm animals could be born with nothing but a brain stem. The body would be there, and it would function, but the animal would have no ability to think, contemplate, feel pain, etc.
posted by aaron at 11:39 AM on March 21, 2001


yup, all them animals dyin every day just to feed us. And take it further, think of all those poor insects that all those evil birds are eating - gotta be waaaaaay more than 250 of those a second, and they're animals too bub. And beyond that, all the other insects those insects are eating. All that death...and if we want to climb high enough on our respective soapboxes, I'm sure we can put an end to it all.
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 11:44 AM on March 21, 2001


I hate animal abuse, and really think that laws should be harsher for cases of cruelty (like, a guy kicking the crap out of his dog should really be sentenced very harshly). I hate the way meat animals are mass-slaughtered, it IS the least humane way and it should be changed -- even boycotts can be good for that. And of course PETA sometimes makes good points.
BUT: I wish some PETA person would have the guts to meet some of the Oklahoma City victims' relatives and say: "Your daughter's, wife's, son's death, is AS TRAGIC as a beef's death in a farm. I have the same compassion for your dead relative as I do for a burger". I wish they'd have the guts to do that, I'd really respect them a lot. Because, really, how many people on the face of this earth are convinced that killing a person and killing a cockroach is, morally, the same? Come on
posted by matteo at 11:51 AM on March 21, 2001


The fact is that eating meat, especially in the quantities that Americans do, is a luxury--one that, like driving an SUV, is wasteful and destructive to the environment (the joke about cow farts and global warming is true). I eat meat and I doubt I'll stop any time soon, but let's recognize it for what it is.
posted by jpoulos at 11:52 AM on March 21, 2001


tangent: There's no problem with an endzone dance that consists of a simple spike, or even kneeling and pointing to God (like HE cares about your touchdown..). The problem consists of head-bobbing, prancing into the endzone, 5 minute long spectacles that are all about "me" in what is a pure team sport.

I am such a football fan. 8)
posted by owillis at 1:56 PM on March 21, 2001


I agree. I hate it when my burger does that. Nothing more shameful than a burger dancing around before I eat it.
posted by bradth27 at 1:59 PM on March 21, 2001


I'm not going to get into a philosphical discussion about PETA, as this string oughta die quietly about now. But here's a quick thought, I've always felt the reason animal rights stuff never fails to get such a strong reaction is a mix of guilt and the dull realization that humans really treat each other little better than we treat most animals on factory farms.

Regardless of what you think of the issues or the way it was done, if the microsecond that the McVeigh thing gets media attention wasn't successful at making at least a few people think that their Whopper used to be a hunk of sentient being, then I don't know what would be. Holding photos of slaughterhouses? Quoting abstract numbers? Feh. People are becoming more disconnected from what they consume every day, making facts and figures seem more and more irrelevant.

If something like this ties even a couple of folks back to the consequences of what they consume, it's more than worth the sting of looking "bizarre" for bringing it up in the first place. I speak from personal experience on this one, more than almost anyone here probably has.
posted by foist at 9:27 PM on March 21, 2001


To use a cliche. . .Peta's not visualizing the forest through the trees. Why would any cause want to align with anything having remotely to do McVeigh? And moreover, who gives a damn what anybody eats for their "last meal" especially this particular diner? And even moreso-over, McVeigh is an arch conservative, what would he want to do with a patently liberal organization during his martyrdom party?

Speaking of Eco-friendly, free-range bird, ethically responsible corporations,here's a link worth note
Funny; the stuff we accept at face value.
posted by crasspastor at 9:45 PM on March 21, 2001


Why would any cause want to align with anything having remotely to do McVeigh?

Because any story about PETA, no matter how goofy, starts conversations that inevitably become a discussion about the real issue -- the consequences of our carnivorous diet.
posted by rcade at 7:13 AM on March 22, 2001


" . . . hunk of sentient being"?

Give me a break. As someone who grew up on a ranch and has dealt with more than his share of cows (and other, much, much smarter livestock), let me just say that a cow is about as sentient as your average toilet seat. I remember one guy--the poor bastard--who lived on a dairy farm. He kept a three-foot-long 2x4 handy in the morning for the occasional cow who didn't feel like moving into its stall. Said kid would whap the cow as hard as he could right between the eyes with the 2x4, and the cow would sort of blink and move on. If only we could do this with our senators.

The only less sentient beings in the farmyard are chickens. Object to meat-eating, fine, or better, make a good, coherent argument against it like Iceberg did, but please don't hand me any drivel about sad-eyed cows shuffling off this mortal coil.

I speak from personal experience on this one, more than almost anyone here probably has.

Oh, really? This is a convenient (if remarkably shopworn) rhetorical device to stave off argument, but it would be nicer if you would be so good as to provide some details as to why you're such an expert. Are you a meatpacker? A farmer? A scientist? I tried to find out from your profile, but unfortunately, the link given is not working, not even when I tried putting a "www" in the URL.
posted by Skot at 8:35 AM on March 22, 2001


Peta is always good for a laugh, though this one isn't as good as the "drink beer not milk" campaign.
posted by gtr at 11:20 AM on March 22, 2001


skot,

from American Heritage.
sen·tient
PRONUNCIATION:   sn´shnt, -sh-nt
ADJECTIVE : 1. Having sense perception; conscious: “The living knew themselves just sentient puppets on God's stage” (T.E. Lawrence) 2. Experiencing sensation or feeling.

No one is saying cows are in the running for the Nobel prize, just that they feel pain and are therefore, even at the most fundamental level, self-aware.

But beyond that point, I wasn't arguing at all about veg issues, only tactics and their end result. Like it or not, emotion, no matter how knee-jerk or base (such as this one), triumphs over factoids almost every damned time for media.

Doubt it? Do an AP search for something like the ASPCA and then do a search for PETA. Which org has a bigger budget and which org gets more media attention (Guidestar should help you answer that one).

The bottom line, PETA does what they do well regardless of what one thinks of their message. They get press for issues that don't normally get press.

And without resorting to character attacks, I work PR for a large non-animal NPO (hence, why I have some knowledge on nonprofits and the media). I admittedly deserve to catch shit for the ambiguous closing sentence though. Won't happen again.
posted by foist at 5:13 PM on March 22, 2001


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