3 December 2005

People for the ethical treatment of logic

Digg just posted an article praising Penn and Teller's show ridiculing PETA. The commenters were falling over themselves in their praise of P&T and their vitriolic hatred of PETA. Ignoring the fact that it's easy to ridicule the differences from the norm that any extremist organization has (hint: that's why they're called "extremist"), and admitting that any harassment by PETA should not be tolerated, what are these people's complaints? ...

The commenters provided no solid accusations beyond "peta is teh suck." Since I haven't seen the P&T show I went to the PETA Kills Animals link that was provided. The major accusation seems to be that the group put to death over 85 percent of the animals it took in during 2003. I'm sure they didn't torture them when they put them to death, so where's the ethical lapse? The site also says that PETA president Ingrid Newkirk complained that actually taking care of animals costs more than killing them. Again, is this really hypocritical? Ultimately, PETA Kills Animals has a problem with the the fact that PETA spends money on something other than keeping animals alive. If it's not spent on treating animals un-ethically, what's the issue?

Another qualm is that the group spends huge sums on programs equating people who eat chicken with Nazis. I've read of meat-eaters wanting to go vegetarian after seeing what goes on in a chicken processing plant. Although everyone seems to be accusing everyone else of being Hitler these days, these places are pretty grim. Even level-headed assessments of chicken processing plants describe the procedures with a certain shame.

In the article on PETA's dirty secret, PETA Kills Animals show a PETA worker holding an (apparently) dead puppy by the hind legs. Are we supposed to be shocked at the image, or shocked that a group who hates PETA's methods of displaying shocking images is using that same technique? More overwrought accusations are made on the same site under 7 Things You Didn't Know About PETA. The #1 thing-we-didn't-know is that PETA wants human society to completely stop using animals. WWW dot PETA dot COM slash ABOUT: PETA operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment.

I'm not a vegetarian and probably never will be. We're part of the natural world and animals eat other animals in the natural world. Still, I think we should show some conscious empathy and cause as little harm as possible. I may be too forgiving of PETA's extremist actions because I suspect that the group attracts members with a wide range of beliefs, but I really can't condone critics who emphasize only extremely weak arguments.

[ posted by sstrader on 3 December 2005 at 2:45:33 PM in Culture & Society ]