Animal liberation charity PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has gone and done it again. Notorious for using cheap shock tactics to make a noise and pull in more donations, the organization sent a press release and posted a tweet within an hour of the announcement that fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld (for whom I personally felt no love) had died: ‘Karl Lagerfeld has gone, and his passing marks the end of an era when fur and exotic skins were seen as covetable. PETA sends condolences to our old nemesis’s loved ones.’
Last year, Lagerfeld, who had long defended his use of fur, conceded to demands that that he stop using fur and crocodile, lizard, snake and stingray skins in his designs. No matter, as far as PETA is concerned – they still capitalized in his death in a shockingly heartless manner. This is one in a long and tiresome line in PETA using grotesque imagery and tactics to sell its cause.
Founded in 1980 by Ingrid Newkirk, a British activist, and fellow animal rights campaigner Alex Pacheco, PETA is the largest animal-rights organization in the world, with more than six million members and supporters. Its HQ is in Virginia. It has offices in London and Mumbai.
Its goal is ‘total animal liberation,’. They want the complete elimination from the human diet of meat, fish, dairy products, eggs and honey. It campaigns for the abolition of zoos, aquariums and circuses; a ban on the wearing or production of wool, leather, fur and silk; and of hunting and fishing. PETA is against medical experimentation on animals, including for cancer and Aids. Newkirk once said, ‘Even if animal research resulted in a cure for Aids, we would be against it.’
But a growing number of vegetarian and vegans are getting sick of PETA, in particular, women.
In 2008, under the guise of raising awareness about a technique known as farrowing-crate confinement, used in factory farming in which sows are squeezed into narrow metal stalls barely larger than their own bodies, a heavily pregnant member of PETA’s posed on all fours in a metal cage, naked except for a pair of pink knickers.
In 2011 they released a video to be screened during the Super Bowl, in which bikini-clad models fondled phallic vegetables while cavorting around as though on a porn set. PETA does not want us consuming animal products, but has no problem in depicting women as meat: one PETA image shows a woman being clubbed ‘to death’ by a man; another shows a woman wrapped in cling film to resemble cuts of meat in a supermarket.
Racist imagery can also be found in more than one of its campaigns – such as the juxtaposition of a photograph of African American men accused of raping white women being lynched in the Deep South with that of a bull being strung up in preparation for butchering. Then there was the campaign that depicted a semi-clad black man as a ‘wild’ animal in a cage.
PETA takes the view that euthanizing animals, including healthy ones, can be justified because it ‘considers pet ownership to be a form of involuntary bondage’. PETA euthanized about 97 percent of the dogs and cats impounded in their shelters in 2011.
My rescue dog Maisie, who was saved from a death row dog shelter as a puppy, having been abused as a stray, would have been put to sleep if PETA had had its way. From her troubled and humble beginnings, Maisie has risen to the dizzying heights of being recognized in the local park as ‘that dog that won a lookalike competition’.
It is high time we saw the demise of PETA, and in its place, an animal rights charity that does not use offensive and nasty marketing gimmicks. Women, people of color, and grieving relatives are also animals. But PETA appears to not give a damn about humans. Why should humans support them?