Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Sick Puppies at PETA

I like pussy galore and have cat companions to prove it.

Having been heavily involved in the peace movement for the last few years, most people don’t know that my recently re-charged activism started after a volunteer stint at the Capital Area Human Society (CAHS) in Lansing, Michigan. I became experienced in dog training, pet adoption counseling, and special events – volunteer work with and for animals that was alternately rewarding, challenging, and heart-wrenching. You get a good glimpse of the underbelly of a society, one with people who mal-treat helpless, voiceless animals.

I’m now a self-admitted ailurophile and an experienced cat-rescuer. All of my cat companions are adopted from the CAHS or have been rescued from abandonment by me personally.

My interest in animals and animal rights is far from casual. In fact, one of the biggest short-comings of the progressive movement is that the peace community and animal rights and rescue movement – both striving to protect people, community, and animals from various forms of violence – do not work closer together. I know some self-proclaimed peace people who would scoff at this notion, not having made or not wanting to make the connection. If they did, the passion of both groups combined would be formidable.

So then, why wasn’t I impressed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) demonstration on the downtown streets of Lansing on Wednesday? If you missed the demonstration, like most of us did, PETA had two young women showering on the streets to draw attention to the water-related cost of beef production and to promote vegetarianism. Read about it in the Lansing State Journal here.

PETA’s tactic is a familiar one used by this organization: Take naked women or scantily-clad women and parade them around with a contrived (yet meritorious) campaign slogan. Sometimes the naked women are in cages; sometimes in print ads; and sometimes in showers. The campaign slogan gets lost in the organization’s obvious willingness to objectify women. One of my Facebook friends reacted to PETA’s Lansing stunt by commenting:

“I am all about animal rights (being a vegetarian is a facet of that), but why is it okay to trade woman's rights for animal rights? There are other ways to make a point then objectifying women, but PETA doesn't seem to be willing to explore those ideas. I think PETA actually hurts their cause from all the extreme crap they pull, who wants their dietary/political/ethical lifestyle to be associated with a group willing to be racist, sexist, and violent in order to attract people to their cause?”

Sexist. That’s what it is. PETA’s repeated willingness to disrespect women seriously tarnishes its credibility. If you don’t believe the extent of PETA’s attitudes towards women, you should watch its 2009 Super Bowl ad here. As you watch it, you can probably guess why the ad was rejected by the television networks.

What I want to know is, who convinced PETA to go with these ads and actions that objectify and exploit women? I’m trying to imagine the PETA board members or their executive team going around the table agreeing to the print ads, the TV ads, and the street protests that incorporate such bad taste. Whoever sold this campaign to PETA and whoever in the organization approved it should be called out because they are, undoubtedly, some sick puppies.
-- Rico Thomas Rico

Who You Callin' a Sick Puppy?

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