Thursday, August 05, 2004

I Got Your Ethical Treatment Right Here! 

You can feel them...breathing down your neck every time you buy a new belt. You can hear them...pitiful moaning like so many George Romero zombies as soon as you take a bite of your cheeseburger. You can see them...standing by the side of the road speaking into megaphones and looking like a bunch of militant Anthrocon rejects. They are the People Eating Tasty Animals.

No, that's not really what it stands for. It's People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: PETA, or "PeTA", as they prefer to spell it. One can infer that ethics is low on their list of priorities from that spelling.

How can I accurately describe PeTA, without resorting to the delicious hyperbole and attacks that I'm saving for later in this post? How about using PeTA's own description, from their website?

PETA believes that animals deserve the most basic rights, consideration of their own best interests regardless of whether they are useful to humans. Like you, they are capable of suffering and have interests in leading their own lives; therefore, they are not ours to use for food, clothing, entertainment, or experimentation, or for any other reason.

MmmHmm. In other words, extreme animal lovers. For a look at what really drives these fellows, perhaps we should take a look at their FAQ, which is typically the most concise part of any given site.

People who support animal rights believe that animals are not ours to use for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation, or any other purpose and that animals deserve consideration of their best interests regardless of whether they are cute, useful to humans, or endangered and regardless of whether any human cares about them at all...Animals should have the right to equal consideration of their interests. For instance, a dog most certainly has an interest in not having pain inflicted on him or her unnecessarily. We are, therefore, obliged to take that interest into consideration and to respect the dog's right not to have pain unnecessarily inflicted upon him or her.

Okay, so animals are capable of suffering and deserve to live their own lives. No argument from me. In fact, it's a point of view I appreciate more than most. I'd even concede that humans are no "better" than any other animal. But there's one problem: That whole "natural order" thing. Humans are at the top of the food chain, and we should act as such. Wolves don't question the morality of killing a moose. Foxes don't question the morality of killing a rabbit. If you really think you're on the same level as every other animal, why act morally superior? We don't kill animals for fun or to dishonor them...we do it for survival. We get our energy from consuming their flesh.

But that's what I think. And you know...what PeTA thinks is what PeTA thinks. So it's a bunch of people who don't want to eat meat and think that animals should be liberated from all forms of captivity. Weird, but okay. It's all down to individual choices in lifestyle. To each his own. Right?

Everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion, but freedom of thought is not the same thing as freedom of action. You are free to believe whatever you want as long as you don't hurt others. You may believe that animals should be killed, that black people should be enslaved, or that women should be beaten, but you don't always have the right to put your beliefs into practice. The very nature of reform movements is to tell others what to do don't use humans as slaves, don't sexually harass women, etc. and all movements initially encounter opposition from people who want to continue to take part in the criticized behavior.

Oh hell no they didn't...they didn't just compare killing animals for food to American slavery and domestic violence. So this is how they justify it...if you eat meat, you're a spouse-beater and a slave driver, and you should be stopped.

Their FAQ just gets weirder and weirder as it goes along, too...How does PeTA justify the acts of violence and arson committed by the eco-terrorist group Animal Liberation Front (ALF)?

Throughout history, some people have felt the need to break the law to fight injustice. The Underground Railroad and the French Resistance are examples of movements in which people broke the law in order to answer to a higher morality. The ALF, which is simply the name adopted by people who act illegally in behalf of animal rights, breaks inanimate objects such as stereotaxic devices and decapitators in order to save lives. ALF members burn empty buildings in which animals are tortured and killed. ALF raids have given us proof of horrific cruelty that would not have otherwise been discovered or believed and have resulted in criminal charges being filed against laboratories for violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Often, ALF raids have been followed by widespread scientific condemnation of the practices occurring in the targeted labs, and some abusive laboratories have been permanently shut down as a result.

Oh marvelous. Whereas most resistance movements answer to moral absolutes, PeTA has decided to adopt the same tactics to a very relative point of view. Hey everybody, let's go burn down a Red Lobster and SAVE SOME FUCKING CRUSTACEANS!

The best part of PeTA is their preoccupation with vegetarianism and the uber-trendy veganism, which is an extension of vegetarianism in which one doesn't consume meat OR eggs, dairy or any other animal product. Why do they wish to force these points of view on others?

From a moral standpoint, actions that harm others are not matters of personal choice. For example, murder, child abuse, and cruelty to animals are immoral acts, not matters of choice. Today, our society encourages meat-eating and factory farming, but at one time, society also encouraged slavery, child labor, and many other practices that are now universally recognized as wrong

Universally accepted as wrong? Funny, I thought parts of the world still used slavery and child labor.

In case you haven't caught on yet, now this isn't about personal choice. They want to force us all to be scrawny-ass, malnourished vegetarians who wear natural fibers and are into whale-watching. They seriously want to ban meat-eating, apparently hoping humans will start dying of malnutrition.

Studies have also shown that vegetarians have lower cholesterol levels than meat-eaters and are far less likely to die of heart disease or cancer.

Whoa! Stop right there. These people are actually trying to make us believe we'll be healthier if we DON'T eat meat? But I guess if your idea of "healthy" is "deathly and grossly underweight", then yeah, being a vegetarian would make you very healthy indeed.

And everyone is always harping about cholesterol. Fuck cholesterol...that's got nothing on protein deficiency.

The consumption of meat and dairy products has been conclusively linked with diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, clogged arteries, obesity, asthma, and impotence.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Arthritis? Impotence? I'm surprised no one has linked vegan diets to mental retardation...there's already some evidence for that hypothesis right here. Predictably, no sources are given for these ludicrous claims.

Moving on, this is really precious: "Aren't humans natural carnivores?"

Actually, a vegetarian diet suits the human body better than a diet that includes meat. Carnivorous animals have claws, short digestive tracts, and long, curved fangs. Humans have flat, flexible nails, and our so-called "canine" teeth are minuscule compared to those of carnivores and even compared to vegetarian primates like gorillas and orangutans. Our tiny canine teeth are better suited to biting into fruits than tearing through tough hides. We have flat molars and long digestive tracts that are suited to diets of vegetables, fruits, and grains.

Oh, okay. Our canines are built for biting into fruit. This is one of the dumbest things they've said yet. And last I checked, we're not carnivores OR herbivores, we're OMNIVORES. We have evolved to eat both plants AND meat.

Hey PeTA: For every animal you don't eat, I'm going to eat three. Does that make me a murderer? Does it make me immoral? Does it put me on the same level as Hitler and Stalin? Tough shit.

There's a holocaust on my plate, and it sure is scrumptious. Yum!

BTW, Penn & Teller did a really good episode of their Showtime series "Bullshit" on these guys. Turns out PeTA has ties to terrorists and euthanizes more animals than it saves.
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