Posts Tagged ‘PETA’

Friendly Fire by Nathan & Jennifer Winograd

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

IMG_2766If you have never worked at an animal shelter, volunteered at an animal shelter, or been to an animal shelter, you may be quite shocked by Nathan and Jennifer Winograd’s book, Friendly Fire. Even if you have done any of these things, there is still much in this book that may anger you, amaze you, and ignite your passion for changing attitudes about domestic animals and their significance. We are told that cats and dogs are the animals we love, but anyone who reads this book knows better. We ignore them, neglect them, abandon them, harm them, starve them, and in some circumstances, we torment them. And far too often, we murder them, by the millions, each year.

The Shocking Truth about Large Advocacy Groups

One of the most disturbing truths revealed in the book is the role that large animal advocacy groups (PETA, ASPCA, HSUS) play in supporting some of the worst, most abusive and cruel animal shelter practices in existence. PETA is known to kill nearly all the animals they “rescue,” that total now in the thousands. Many fight the No Kill movement and have supported some of the worst shelters in the nation. This book will hopefully send the ethical donor researching their favorite charities.

The Winograds knock down all the standard arguments thrown against No Kill shelters, and they refute them all. Some of the central messages of the book are: 1)there is no excuse for killing, 2) the single best predicter of success in live release is the attitude of the Shelter Director, and 3)regressive shelters will often kill even when there are rescues that could save animals, potential fosters who could save animals, and a community that wants to save animals. The deep pockets of the some of the most well known animal charities often work against progressive changes that might save lives.

Why No Kill is a Challenge to the Status Quo

I admit to hearing and wondering about many false claims I heard about the No Kill movement, most of which were dispelled by attendance at the No Kill Conference held in the DFW area last March. But reading this book helped to increase my knowledge and concern about saving the adoptable animals and helping the No Kill message spread. While many shelters are doing better every year with live release increases, there are still times when animals get caught in a web of bureaucracy and lose precious possibilities towards finding a happy ending. In some shelters, there is such an investment in the status quo that any change is opposed in order to justify current and past practices.

If you want to impact animals in your community or elsewhere, check out what is happening in your own local shelter. And read Friendly Fire so you know the questions to ask and the tasks to undertake.

Why I Am NOT a Veg*n

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Recently, on a vegan forum, I commented on the use of the term “vegetarian”  or “veg*n” rather than “vegan” while promoting animal rights.  It seemed to unleash a storm of criticism and ad hominem attacks: “Someone is VERY NEW….,”  ”so fundamentalist in nature,”  ”is there ANY evidence base whatsoever…? ”  My comment was in response to the posting of a Huffington Post article by Bruce Friederich, Vice President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), as well as a suggestion to develop the inclusive “veg*n” culture on the same forum.  Mr. Friederich has stated before that he no longer advocates in vegan tee shirts, because people respond better to the vegetarian message. That may be, but it is not a message that will help animals. In fact, it may even create more suffering for the animals. How can an animal advocate promote the dairy industry?  I think of the abuse of babies, little newborn calves; and mothers who are forced into servitude of being milk machines, with distended udders, infected and dragging the ground.  Then there are all those newborn chicks ground alive in massive machines because they cannot lay eggs.  THAT is something for animal advocates to support?

The message Mr. Friederich was giving was that it is indefensible to eat meat. Unfortunately, his last  line reads,

Put another way: If we believe that people should try to protect the environment, OR we believe that we should try not to cause people to starve OR we oppose cruelty to animals, the only ethical diet is a vegetarian one.

Wrong. This following many salient points in Friederich’s article is so disappointing.  Why is there such a great fear of the word “veganism?”  It is a simple word, much more simple and clear than “vegetarianism.”  There is so much ambiguity in the term vegetarian that it leaves people thinking giving up meat for dairy products will somehow be less cruel. Even if one is focusing solely on the dietary aspects of veganism, then why not support incremental veganism? At least doing so would leave a clear impression in the minds of the audience that veganism is the goal, not vegetarianism.

Mr. Friederich has another contradiction or two on his hands. It is difficult to be accepted as someone who values animal life while working for an organization that kills a higher proportion of animals in their “shelter” than most other shelters. It is also an organization that owns stock and profits from animal agriculture, gives awards to slaughter house designers, and uses some questionable tactics which diminishes the level of dialogue regarding the significance of animal rights.  Again, so disappointing. One young animal rights advocate, Beckah Sheeler, recently posted on the site Animal Writes an article titled, PETA: A Hurdle for Vegan Advocacy:

What we are faced with is the split between abolitionists and welfarists, and this will always exist; however, (as cliche the saying as it may be) with the amount of power Peta has, comes a great amount of responsibility, meaning the lives and welfare of animals, the planet, and the indirect meals able to be fed to the hungry due to this lifestyle, are resting in its hands. Bruce Friedrich, VP of Peta, also has stated in a recent post that being an absolutist is the worst way to attract people to this cause. The members of Peta should, of course, not give up their strong convictions of remaining not only meat free, but egg and dairy free, but being that Peta is so big, I believe that it is the organization’s responsibility, with all of its money, resources, and recognition, to advocate in such a way that helps the most amount of animals being that this is its perceived cause.

Ms. Sheeler then goes on to support widening the appeal rather than clarifying the message that PETA spreads.  However, Dan Cudahy, on his blog Unpopular Vegan Essays, reports on the failure of such tactics that are contradictory at the root (from the article PETA: A Corporate Tangle of Contradictions):

PETA’s contradictions in philosophy, rhetoric, and activities – which have led to profound public confusion and fortification of the utilitarian-welfarist status quo that has been in existence since Jeremy Bentham – have been a barrier to progress in advancing animal rights, and will continue to be a barrier as long as they continue as an animal welfare organization.

For a clear look at the problematic nature of the confusion in such welfarist rhetoric, Professor Gary Francione states in a post on his blog, Animal Rights: The Abolionist Approach (Some Comments on Vegetarianism as a Gateway to Veganism):

It is clear: if you explain that there is no distinction between flesh and other animal products and why we should go vegan, and the person with whom you are talking cares about the issue, she will either (1) go vegan immediately; or (2) go vegan in stages; or (3) not go vegan and adopt some version of vegetarianism (or “happy” meat/product consumption). But she will at least understand that veganism is the aspiration toward which to work. She will understand that the line between flesh and other products is entirely arbitrary. If you maintain that going vegetarian is morally meaningful and that there is a distinction between flesh and other animal products, then you increase the chances that her progress toward veganism will be impeded.

In other words, you do not need to advocate vegetarianism. It is completely unnecessary, morally meaningless, and, as a practical matter, it impedes transition to veganism.

While I appreciate the sincere motives of individuals like Mr. Friederich and do not challenge them, it does seem important to continue looking at the tactics of the animal rights movement. This is very different than disparaging individuals.  I fully admit to many shortcomings and work on them; I have my own blind spots. Assuming that all animal advocates sincerely want what is in the best interest of nonhuman animals rather than promotion of their individual animal organizations, then looking critically at tactics and contradictions that may become barriers (Dan Cudahy) or hurdles (Beckah Sheeler) or impediments (Gary Francione) would seem a positive way of helping advocates learn to help animals achieve true rights as living, feeling beings. While listening to a podcast today, I heard someone interrupt a speaker discussing vegetarianism and interject “a lacto-ovo vegetarian — that is pretty much the same thing as a vegan.”  No, no, no.

Another way of stating this was posted by Tim Gier in an article titled, Is Half A Loaf Better Than None?

If you do intentionally participate in the subjugation of nonhuman animals, it does not matter that your participation is infrequent, or irregular, or occasional. Whenever you eat the flesh of a nonhuman animal, a life is ended for your pleasure, and for nothing else. The same is true whenever you wear the skin of another as clothing, or you patronize the zoos and circuses that cage others for life, or you support the medical, scientific or commercial experimentation on others as well.  Cutting back on those things, while better than not, still amounts to participating in them. There is no “half loaf.”

By spreading vegetarian education rather than vegan education, we collaborate in the subjugation (however unintentionally) of nonhuman animals.  The baseline is veganism. The fact that it is not immediately appealing for 100% of all people everywhere is not the point.  Veganism is the goal. It can be incrementally achieved, but it remains the goal. To ask for anything less, anything with wider appeal, anything that appears to be a more popular message, is to sell out the rights of animals. Want to make veganism more popular? Start by talking about it.


Flexitarian, Fanatical, or Fair?

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

A recent article in The Daily World suggested that we “learn flexibility with meat eating.”  The scenario posited was this: imagine you have decided to go vegetarian, have tossed out all meat, poultry and fish, and stocked up on plant foods. Then you are invited out to a romantic steak dinner. Do you throw your ethics out the window or decline the invitation?  According to proponents of flexitarianism, you can hold on to you ethics and your steak by being flexitarian.  For anyone who is an omnivore, this might seem reasonable.  But the real kicker for vegans who care about animals is this: Bruce Friederich, Vice President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is right there saying:

“If people influenced by health consequently cut back on fish and meat consumption, that helps animals. If two people cut their meat in half, it helps as much as one person going completely vegetarian.”*

Suddenly, Flexitarianism now has the PeTA stamp of approval, so it must be ethical, right?  First of all, vegetarianism does not improve the situation for animals; in fact, it may exacerbate things. How many newborn chicks die for the eggs, and how many babies (calves) die for the milk, cheese and yogurt that a vegetarian consumes?  Then there is the horrific life of a dairy animal, which includes rape, long hours of standing, mastitis, and hugely enlarged udders which become encrusted with sores.  If you have ever seen a video of those newborn calves taken from their mothers, you are not likely to ever forget it. And then there is the ultimate trip to the abattoir for the calf and mother alike, of course. Telling the public that going vegetarian or flexitarian helps animals sends a very muddled message.

This seems to be a new position for PeTA, whose director of research said in a Newsweek article circa 2009:

“Given the environmental, cruelty and health impact of a meat-based diet, going vegan is best, going vegetarian is good, and being a flexitarian is like smoking two packs of cigarettes instead of ten, beating one pig down the slaughter ramp instead of two, and pouring a pint of gasoline down a drain instead of pouring down a gallon.”**

Friederich recently posted a comment that he was tossing out his vegan tee shirts because the vegetarian ones were so much more popular.  I would suggest if Mr. Friederich is concerned about popularity, then he is right to do whatever is broad-based. But if he believes in veganism and believes the animals deserve better than this, then he is very misguided.  Sending mixed messages to the public does not help animals. It just lowers the bar on what is considered “ethical.”

Mark Bittman, noted author of Food Matters suggests much the same. After all, it is just too hard to go vegan, right? Usually those making that statement have never even tried; they are looking for an easy way out. But it is no easy way for the animals that must endure horrendous lives of illness, discomfort, pain, and misery. It does not help those that must suffer the terror and callous treatment at the end of the line at the slaughterhouse. And the truth is, there are thousands upon thousands of vegans who beg to differ: we find it extremely easy to be vegan. For most of us, one bit of information about the lives of animals, one video of the slaughterhouse, and we were done. It was easy, because every time we think of animal products, we see those images and we refuse to budge. We will NOT participate.

 

Earlier this year, Wayne Pacelle offered the following:

“It doesn’t take an all-or-nothing approach to make a major impact, and giving customers more meat-free meal choices will improve health, reduce the impact of global warming, and help animals,” Pacelle said.***

Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, is not known for taking all-or-nothing approaches to protecting animals. HSUS has owned stock in some of the worst animal exploitative industries, allowing them to profit from the consumption and slaughter of animals. This fact alone weakens any moral stance Mr. Pacelle could take.  Coupled with the fact that many if not most HSUS members consume animal products themselves, this appears to be one very flexible animal protection organization: for some of the animals, some of the time. While Mr. Pacelle is himself a vegan, he must as CEO of a large animal welfare organization protect the donations which come is to the tune of millions of dollars per year.

Standing in opposition to child abuse, human trafficking, rape, incest and domestic violence somehow does not make a person fanatical. Standing in opposition to abject cruelty and torture of animals does. Call me fanatical, but all this talk of flexibility and flexitarianism offends me, coming from supposed animal rights folks. Sounds like a lack of spine to me.

*Learning flexibility with meat eating,” Daily World, July 14, 2010

**”Part-time Vegetarians”, Newsweek, September 29, 2008, by Karen Springen

***“Compass Launches Landmark ‘Flexitarian’ Initiative”, HSUS website

Farewell Welfare

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

When I first learned that the products of the dairy industry resulted in endless suffering and animal death, I went from vegetarian to vegan and began to learn all that I could about what was happening to animals. I began listening to podcasts all day long as I worked and I learned a lot during that time. I listened to Colleen Patrick Goudreau of Compassionate Cooks, Dino Sarma of Alternative Vegan, the folks on Vegan Radio and Bob and Jenna Torres of Vegan Freaks. After that, I read and listened to anything I could get my hands on. Meanwhile, I was learning that some of the animal protection organizations to which I had sent money in the past were not helping animals the way I always assumed they had.  In fact, some of them were making things much worse, profiting from animal abuse by owning stock in some of the worst animal abuse industries and promoting the status quo by asking for regulation of the existing structure of domination and abuse rather than trying to abolish it. Some were participating in sexist, violent campaigns. Some were promoting flexitarian or vegetarian campaigns rather than veganism.  At the same time, I was getting an education online via some abolitionists, including Gary Francione. I was also becoming the object of some very snarky individuals and got caught in the crossfire between abolitionists and welfarists on more than one occasion. Good grief!  Then I started to really catch it; I was called divisive and told that I wasn’t  DOING anything for animals.  Those who believed in ending animal abuse by tackling one problem at a time saw those of us who wanted to end the domination of animals altogether as nothing but TROUBLE!

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Opposing Theories or Personal Attacks?

I was shocked and disturbed to see the personal attacks on people in the movement, in particular Gary Francione. Rather than debating him, or challenging the abolitionist ideas, there is a  deterioration into ad hominem assaults on occasion.  Many of us respect Professor Francione immensely because of the clarity and consistency of the message he ends, because of his tireless work for animals, and for his stand for ahimsa or non-violence.

Anyone who finds his message resonating within them is then accused of being a cult member, which is rather humorous in light of the theoretical basis of his view of animal rights. What these misguided people see as a fanatical attachment to a personality is, in fact, admiration and respect for a theoretical approach which seems to offer the only hope for peace and the end of commodification of animals.  Personally, there are many welfarists that I admire for their optimism and tireless work on behalf of animals. I love their hearts and know how sincerely they want to end all animal suffering. I deviated from the path they were on, and here is why:

Why I Left Welfare Activities

  1. First, welfare reform is ineffective.  As long as animals are property, they will be difficult to protect. They will be considered commodities and will be subject to the whims of their owners. Despite decades of protesting the clubbing of seals, elephants in the circus, shooting of wolves, the fur trade, hunting, the killing goes on. Until a large proportion of the population adopt a vegan attitude towards animals, little will change.
  2. Second, it supports the status quo. The current situation for animals is precarious because they are considered property and some humans benefit financially from their commodification.  Since working within the given structure reinforces the subjugation, it is doubtful it will ever change without a change in attitude towards animal life.
  3. Third, it sends a very confused message to the public. Few of the animal protection organizations support veganism; some support veg*n, veggie, vegetarian or other such terms. This is confusing because if one is not vegan, one is still supporting the commodification of animals. Asking people to send money to an organization whose own members are consuming animal products is a sign of moral confusion. Owning stock and profiting from animal abuse causes confusion, as does campaigning for measures such as Controlled Area Killing (CAK), free range eggs, and humane labeled meat. There is some evidence that these campaigns have actually increased the demand for meat and eggs; it has definitely confused the public.  Let’s not add to it.
  4. Fourth, it detracts from the energy and resources that could be going towards clear and consistent vegan education. HSUS  and PETA both take in millions of dollars each year. Imagine if they clearly promoted veganism. Imagine rather than using celebrities, many of whom are inconsistent and unclear about the meaning of veganism, if PETA promoted vegan education with their considerable PR machinery and funding.
  5. Fifth, individual causes reinforce speciesism by gaining momentum based on emotional appeal. Baby seals, dolphins, cats and dogs all appeal to many human beings, but lobsters, turkeys, and pigs need non-speciesist individuals to fight for them, too. Animal welfare organizations tend to promote animals that are appealing to humans as a priority. It is no more just to work on protecting only certain species than it is to protect only certain human beings. It reinforces speciesism.

First, We All Need a Vision

One of the problems between welfarists and abolitionists is an inability to dialogue and debate. Many welfarists, sometimes referred to as New Welfarists, actually say they are abolitionists but believe the road to the abolition of animal use must be paved with welfare regulations first.  Believing they are being pragmatic, they view abolitionists as doing nothing, while abolitionists regard welfarists as spinning their wheels and wasting energy better spent on vegan education.  I would like to suggest that all of us need to expand our vision to what we would like to see happen and stop voicing that it is impossible. It is not. In my lifetime I have seen changes in women’s rights and civil rights that led to a female presidential candidate and an African-American president in 2008. But it took the vision of a man who went to the mountain top before it could happen.  Things change, if we can envision it, if we can imagine…..

It is doubtful that welfarist and abolitionists will ever see eye to eye, because there are two distinct views of how to end the subjugation and injustice towards animals.  In one vision, we must work within the existing power structure to effect change by using rules and regulations.  In the other viewpoint, animals should never be considered as property, must have a right to their own personhood, should be allowed to live their lives in the way they were intended rather than being used to benefit another species. This also means clear vegan education.

Many say abolitionists are dreamers, but the vision is very important towards achieving success.  It doesn’t take a preponderance of individuals in a movement to make it successful; in fact, it is usually a minority of people that effect change.

The Dancing Guy and Starting A Movement for Change

There has been a You Tube video going around called Leadership Lessons in Starting a Movement (by Derek Sivers) about how a dancing guy at a concert represents the start of a movement. There is just a single guy, dancing alone, with people giving him a glance as if he is a bit odd.  But after a while, a second guy gets up and starts dancing, too.  This second guy changes everything, because now the first guy looks like a leader  and not a crazy guy – he is just ahead of the pack.  After awhile, more and more people get up and  begin dancing, until the hillside is alive with dancing. At first it might have just been Gary Francione, dancing solo, getting hit from all sides.  But now, more people are joining in. We already have two teen abolitionist podcasters in New Zealand alone – imagine if there were teen abolitionist podcasters all over the globe! It will be wonderful when there are people joining us in the dance all around the world. As Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”  All we need to do now is just dance!

Animal Rights People to Know

Tim Gier mantains an excellent animal rights blog. He is on Twitter and Facebook, too, and provides a lot of relevant information and articles for other people.  Tim has an engaging style of writing that is sure to win you over and get you thinking.  His Facebook page says it all, “I am not trying to be better than anyone else; I am just trying to be better than I was before.” You can find his blog at timgier.com. Be sure to bookmark it because you are going to want to come back to it again and again. Tim is a prolific writer so check back frequently – you do not want to miss any of his posts.

Another important contributor in the animal rights field is Sandra Cummings. Sandra has a facebook page called the Vegan Starter Kit that has more information in a small space than you can find anywhere.  She also posts lots of positive articles relating to justice, animal rights, and veganism.

An excellent writer is Angel Flinn of Gentle World. Angel writes for Care2.com and maintains her own blog, The Vegan Solution. Don’t miss her article, Being Vegan is a Speciesist World and Free Range – Not Free Enough.

Trouble by Elvis Preseley

Trouble by Over the Rhine

Imagine by John Lennon

Just Dance by Lady GaGa and Colby O’Donis

Leadership Lessons from the Dancing Guy by Derek Sivers

Tim Gier

The Vegan Starter Kit by Sandra Cummings

The Vegan Solution by Angel Flinn

Veganaphobia

Friday, May 7th, 2010

After reading three books in a row about the horrors of factory farming, food safety, and the politics of the food industry, it has become apparent that some people within the vegan revolution have become fearful of veganism.  Moby, in his book, Gristle, admits to “softening” his approach, downplaying his veganism.  Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Eating Animals, takes a side step to vegetarianism and romances the humane meat movement, avoiding veganism altogether.  And Melanie Joy, in her book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows, never promotes veganism, preferring the term “veg*n” or “vegetarian,” in order to appeal to a wider audience.  As someone who was raised to be an omnivore, evolved into vegetarianism, and finally learned enough to become an ethical abolitionist vegan, I am left wondering — why all the fear of the “V” word?

Veganism and the Peace Sign

When I was a young woman, the sign of a “V” meant peace — two fingers (the index and middle finger) erect and apart at the nail, just like in American Sign Language “V.”  I would hope we would reinstitute the use of the “peace” sign, the “V” that also means the “V” word, veganism. Without peace for all, and that includes the animals, there will be peace for no one. In fact, at this time, there many not be much life left on planet earth unless we mend our ways.  Let’s start using the peace sign and stand out as vegans.

Vegetarianism as a Sign of Veganaphobia

I noticed on the site VeganWrites, a site for student activists, that Bruce Friedrich of PETA was getting rid of his Vegan tee shirts because the Vegetarian tees elicited much better response. I bet a BBQ tee would do better still here in Texas, but that would hardly be vegan education. If we believe in veganism, how will it ever become prevalent if even the vegans are afraid to talk about it?  What is behind this veganaphobia?  The student writing the article then quoted Foer, stating that we should ask people to take the first step, not the last, meaning vegetarianism. But vegetarianism is not the first step – it is a side step, one that still uses animals and their bodies for purely selfish reasons. It is also not a healthy stance not a moral stance, nor even an equivalent environmental stance.

Here is a quote from Bruce Friedrich, VP of PETA

 

I actually think that using the word “vegan” (other than perhaps with youth) may be counterproductive to helping animals, relative to using the word “vegetarian.” As a species, we are given to seeing things as “all or nothing,” and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had discussions with people who write off making any changes because they believe they can’t go vegan.

 

Veganism is Clear

I would disagree.  Going vegan is much easier for many reasons. First of all, it is very clear – animals are not to be exploited, have intrinsic value and are not for human consumption.  Vegetarianism gets confusing for the general public. People bring you dead chickens or think it is acceptable to eat the secretions of animals or use their body parts in other products. Many people use the term vegetarian to indicate someone who eats fish and chicken as well as other animal products. This is not progress for the animals.

Second of all, veganism opens up an entire new world of food.  For me, going vegetarian meant giving something up, avoiding certain foods. Going vegan meant adding many, many things to my life. I became more sensitive to the animals around me, to the wealth of plant food, and to the joy of eating for the first time in my life. If I feel positive about being vegan, then when I discuss it with others it will shine through.

Third, it is much healthier for the individual and the planet. We can collectively feed more of us beings by eating plant food. We can save more of the rainforest and other forests. We can lower our cholesterol and, if we eat whole foods, get rid of most of the chronic diseases that plague modern man. We can reduce our carbon footprint and help stop global climate instability. And we can decrease the amount of violence, suffering, domination and subjugation in the world.

If there is this much confusion among vegans about the best approach towards educating the public, no wonder the public is so confused.

Sam Tucker and Gary Francione, Animal Abolitionists

While listening to one of my favorite podcasts, NZ Vegan Podcast, I was amazed at the solid, logical sound of a very young man, 13 years old at the time, who was on fire for animal rights and veganism.  Not only was he intelligent and well-spoken, he was doing something about the injustice he was witnessing.  Sam Tucker is that young man, now 14, and he is already an enterpreneur (having owned a tee-shirt business), a radio host (Food for Thought), a public speaker (at Animal Rights assemblies and on podcasts), and a successful animal rights advocate.  He is also a snowboarder and a musician.  Sam, as you can tell, does not let any moss grow under his feet.  He is part of a growing number of young people who are making enormous contributions to changing the way people think about animals, about food, and about the earth.

I am very fortunate that during my “research” phase of learning about the animal rights movement, I listened to some excellent, clear and consistent people who clarified things for me. To emphasize the point that promoting veganism via education need not be fear-inducing, there is Gary Francione and his Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach podcast for further clarification.

Animal Writes – To call yourself vegetarian or vegan

John Pizzarelli website

Fierce at Fourteen – profile of Sam Tucker

Book Review: Dr. Melanie Joy’s Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows

Food for Thought radio show

Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach Blog


Fantasy Farm

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

PETA recently sent a letter to Zynga (creator of social media games such as Petville, Fishville, Farmville, Treasure Isle and Mafia Wars) protesting their plan to use virtual dogs for fighting in their Mafia Wars game.  PETA was concerned that the use of such dogs in fantasy play might lead to an increase in dogfighting in the real world. PETA requested that Zynga remove fighting dogs from their games.

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Please, No Pies!

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Lately I have been noticing that the pie has been the chosen medium for garnering attention to animal rights issues, and while I can understand the need to let something fly once in awhile, there has been some unfortunate fallout from some of these pie-tossing incidents. Three recent incidences illustrate my concerns.

The first incident took place on September 21st of last year, 2009. In that incident, a large adult, dressed in a chicken costume, went onstage at a children’s event for South San Francisco Days, at Orange Memorial Park.  There was a child onstage at the time, and there were numerous children in the audience.  The large adult dressed in the chicken costume then proceeded to throw a pie in the face of an actor dressed up as Ronald McDonald.  In this one instance, we have disrespect for children, for chickens, and for an unknown man who has very little to do with animal exploitation except to be in the employ of an animal exploitation industry.  The point of the pie was to emphasize PETA’s request that McDonalds use only suppliers of chicken that employed Controlled Atmosphere Killing, which the PETA blog states is a more profitable and efficient way of killing chickens. They are not asking McDonalds to quit slaughtering chickens, just to use a more profitable and less troublesome way of slaughtering chickens. Once again, PETA is missing the whole point; it is not just how the animals are killed but it is objectionable that they are killed at all. It also does not say much for PETA that they would sponsor that kind of behavior in front of children. What it did accomplish was to set the bar very low for rational discourse regarding a very serious issue of injustice and make a mockery of the devastation that is caused by the demand for animal flesh.

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Then on January 25th of this year, 2010, a PETA supporter sent a pie to the face of Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to protest her continued support of the clubbing of baby seals.  While I am in no way a supporter of the slaughter of infants of any kind, a pie in someone’s face does little to help those baby seals. The seal slaughter touches a particular nerve with the public because of the beautiful eyes of the seals, their completely defenseless state, and the brutal and bloody scenes this activity leaves in its wake. What sending flying pies does is reduce animal rights activists to a problematic category at best.  It causes all animal rights activities to get lumped into a very unfair category.  It does nothing to reduce the destruction of the seals which has been going on for decades. A recent search about the seal slaughter revealed a long history of protest against the annual killing with no cessation of the activity. When the demand for seal skin decreased, a market was created to use the animal bodies for another commercial purpose.  Without a shift in thinking about animal life, these kinds of horrendous practices will continue.

I went to PETA’s blog to see if they could explain their reasons for pie-ing people, and found a column they host called, Ask Carla. Someone had asked the question about why PETA throws pies at people. This was her response, and I quote,

Vaudeville pie throwing ala the Three Stooges can hardly be considered violent in this day and age.  Nobody gets hurt, and better natured recipients laugh it off and crack jokes. Confining animals to tiny cages, beating them, starving them, poisoning them, chopping their beaks, tails and toes off without anesthetics, slitting their throats and ripping their skin off while they are still conscious– now that is violent.

So it is supposed to be funny? The Three Stooges? Really?  The Three Stooges and this kind of terror for animals?  Why would anyone want the recipient to laugh it off? Why would PETA want the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to laugh it off?  As a former public servant, if someone had thrown a pie in my face rather than choosing to write to me or speak to me over a disagreement about a policy, I would have considered that person unstable and recommended treatment for them. There is such an incongruity between the first part of that response and the last part of that response that laughing it off seems to have nothing to do with chopping off tails, toes and beaks. It is appalling that anyone could put those things in close proximity with levity and pie tossing.

Then this past week, I noticed an alert asking for people to volunteer to throw pies at a radio station for hosting the author of an anti-vegetarian book. The ire of the group was against a woman name Lierre Keith, who has written a book entitled, The Vegetarian Myth.  Ms. Keith was a vegan for twenty years and then reverted to omnivorism.  I learned about the book and its author in a snarky column meant to denounce veganism. I left a response on the article that had been asking for pie throwers that read:

Throwing pies in people’s faces discredits the serious issues at hand. How can you expect to be taken seriously or demand respect for animals if you are so disrespectful yourself. Veganism should be a non-violent stance that means respect for others, even if their attitudes are negative towards the movement. Unfortunately, the fallout splatters on the entire movement and makes us look like buffoons rather than rational people with an important issue. You will get press, and you will harm the movement towards respectful treatment of animals.

There had been a prior pie incidence, wherein Miss Keith had been the recipient. This was an additional attempt to pie the radio station that was hosting her. A fellow Examiner who represents Low Carb Diets, Jimmy Moore, has so far posted three articles about the incident and as you can imagine, most of the articles were very supportive of Ms. Keith and very negative towards vegans. Please listen to an interview Jimmy Moore did with Lierre Keith regarding the pie incidence.

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Thank you to Jimmy Moore for presenting a more rational vegan’s viewpoint and thank you to TJ for interjecting somethng on behalf of vegans who are non-violent.

So the result of the attack on Miss Kieth was to increase support for anti-vegan advocate, increase book sales of an anti-vegan book, and decrease respect for the vegan movement. Not very positive. Let’s keep vegan advocacy positive- reaching out to teach other people about the benefits of veganism for the animals, for the earth, and for the health of all of us.

Article about 9/25/2009 pie toss with photo

You Tube video of McDonald’s pie toss

Ask Carla article defending pie throwing by PETA

Article about pie toss at Gail Shea, who supports baby seal slaughter

Response to request for pie throwers

Jimmy Moore article

NZ Vegan Podcast

Gobble Green

Abolitionist Approach

PETA, HSUS, and The Rumblings of a Vegan Tsunami

Friday, January 29th, 2010

As a young teenager, I used to surf the coast of Southern California. My vision was poor, so I learned to feel the currents of water beneath me. When there was a light drawing back, it meant a swell was coming and I needed to get paddling. If I delayed, I would miss the ride, and if I was too fast, I would have the wave crash down on me and would wipe out. Lately, I have been feeling a shift in the currents beneath me once again, only this time I do not plan to miss it.

PETA’s Failed Policies

There have been rumblings on the vegan blogosphere about some of the latest new lows reached by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.  Their pie-in-the-face disrespect to a person in authority seems contraindicated when requesting more respect for other beings.  It is assaultive and inappropriate behavior not becoming adults with serious intentions. Then there is the full frontal nudity of a young woman in their State of the Union Undress (deliberately not linked here) – disrespectful not only to women but also to our elected leaders. Even Ingrid Newkirk‘s response (A pragmatic fight for animal rights) to Victor Schonfeld’s article, Five fatal flaws of animal rights activism, in which she defends “silly antics” as being part of animal rights activism misses the mark by a mile.  While Ms. Newkirk may be well-intentioned, her behavior is the same old tired tactics that have been failing to do anything but increase the PETA budget and gain some press for many years.  At every turn, Ms. Newkirk sells out the animals and any chance to show respect for their lives, whether it is by cooperating with fast food enterprises that kill animals for food and profit, or partnering with corporations by buying stock in animal exploitation schemes. Ms. Newkirk never draws a line in the sand, never acts as if she believes what she says that animals are not ours to use; she uses and exploits them freely to draw attention and financial support to her organization while they remain in a living hell. I have noticed lately that when an outrageous behavior occurs in the news, such as the recent intrusion into Senator Mary Landrieus’ office by men dressed as phone company repairmen, the allusion on a recent MSNBC news discussion was to liken them to “PETA protesters.” Meanwhile, only 7 animals were saved in PETA’s “shelter” in 2008, while nearly 2,000 were killed.  With millions of dollars in annual income, it seems impossible that those lives were valued, because with the will to save them, they could have. If PETA wants ethical treatment for animals, they should begin by delivering some themselves.

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Confessions of a Former PETA Member

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

When I was younger, and less informed, I used to take pride in identifying with the bizarre tactics of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.  I cringed at every issue of their magazine that I received, though, so filled with photos of tormented animals; I used to wonder why they sent those photos to those of us who already cared about animals–it was distressing. Obviously, it helped keep their coffers filled, because they continue doing so today.  The fist and paw of Animal Liberation Front seemed to exemplify the radical changes that needed to take place. Free the Animals! Then, I did not question their tactics; I thought they were radicals and felt the torment of animals required extreme measures to get the attention of people. They did make the news and did make people think; unfortunately, what most people thought was that animal rights people were not to be taken seriously.

Now you can count me as a Vegan against PETA. They have made so many missteps that I cannot consider them a positive force in the fight for the liberation of animals.  A few months back, I was more concerned with in-fighting, disagreements and lawsuits between animal protection groups; that was before I landed squarely in the middle of one of their squabbles.  I felt then that if anyone was doing anything positive for animals, then good for them; why would I take a stand against a group that was trying to help?  But what I learned changed my perspective and increased my understanding of the problems with the largest groups, such as PETA, who take in millions of dollars yet do not seem to make any progress towards freeing animals from their horrible position on this planet. While they may stop a bad practice here or there, undoubtedly several more, often worse practices crop up to replace them.  At the root, there is no respect for animals.

Here are the reasons I am disappointed in you, PETA:

  1. You use tacky tactics.  Sexism, sizism, celebrity, appearance: all are superficial and do not represent the horror of what you know is happening to animals. Who cares who the sexiest vegetarian over 50 is? Why is it important to disparage a full-bodied female on your billboards?  And nudity?  Is that really necessary, when the reality is so very serious? How does that elevate the dialogue to save other species? What is happening to animals is no joke and it is offensive that you make cartoons while the reality is a nightmare in full living color.
  2. You are dishonest.  People trust you to do the right thing for animals. They entrust their companion animals to you, thinking you will find them homes. Then you destroy them before you have even tried to place them and spend thousands of dollars on a freezer to contain all the dead bodies. Ms. Newkirk, you have your photo taken with dogs and cats, yet you are not working to find homes for animals. That is inherently dishonest, using the media to present a false sense of who you are and what you represent.
  3. You support some of the most egregious companies by owning stock in them, companies that torment and slaughter millions of animals. How could you?
  4. You partner with companies who show no conscience, who cause some of the worst suffering imaginable; yet you partner with them if they make some useless gesture towards animal “welfare.”  If you end up getting slaughtered, there is no welfare involved.
  5. You have a scary attitude towards rescue that ends in death.  You have charged other animal organizations of not providing adequately for the animals in their care, but you kill the animals entrusted to your care. How is that better?
  6. Your kill ratios are getting higher each year.  What are you doing with all your millions of dollars, if you do not respect the individual lives of animals? Ms. Newkirk, you have said that the kindest thing you can do for a homeless animal is to kill them. That is not kindness, it is psychopathology.  The kindest thing would be to provide them a home.
  7. You refuse challenges.  Adam Kochanowicz recently challenged you, Ms. Newkirk, in an open letter to debate with Gary L. Francione.  Mr. Francione, a Rutgers University professor, agreed to the debate.  There is now a petition circulating on Twitter to request the same of you.  Why have you refused to respond?
  8. You have become a destructive force.  You support the failed welfarist policies that do nothing to increase respect for animals. Indeed, you show very little respect for them yourself.  Not just the dogs and cats found half frozen and dead in dumpsters, but the fact that you do NOTHING to try to place the animals entrusted to you before you murder them.  They are innocent, loving, feeling beings and you never give them a fighting chance. While you may not be able to save them all, you could at least try. For $32 million a year, you could certainly try.  Your lack of will is fatal.

Your kill statistics from last year, 2008, show only 7 animals placed and nearly 2,000 killed.  That is lower than any neighboring shelter and a higher kill ratio than in any year in your past.  You have an income of over $30 million per year, yet most of us could do better than those odds working with a zero dollar budget and a home computer.  The news that two PETA workers killed dozens of animals within minutes of being surrendered was defended by you, Ms. Newkirk.  You supported the workers (possibly because they were following PETA policy?) stating that they did not cause suffering.  You seem to have a pathological concern that living animals are vulnerable and the safest way to protect them is to kill them.  Your group kills healthy, very young animals – a veterinarian performed an autopsy on one of the dogs found in a dumpster who had been killed and he was only a six month old puppy, a beautiful and perfectly healthy young dog that would have been easier than most to place. Nor did PETA keep these animals in shelter for six months, thirty days, a week, or a day – but only for minutes, before they were killed.

That is why I am a Vegan against PETA.  I am glad you do some good with your money; you should.  But you also cause harm. You give Animal Rights a certain bizarre reputation that is ill-deserved. Gary Francione, Roger Yates, Randy Sandberg, Elizabeth Collins, Adam Kochanowicz, Dan Cudahy and numerous others are Animal Rights people that do not behave in an adolescent fashion. They do not use the media and celebrities for questionable purposes.  The work ahead of us is far too important to have it reduced to a cartoon, to have insulting billboards spread out across our highways that offend a good portion of our citizens, to have nudity used to lower the bar of our cause and make us look vulgar and insignificant, while billions of animals are killed every year, and while PeTA is busy killing thousands themselves.

I know there are earnest hearts who work for PeTA and truly care about animals.  And there are many millions of people who believe in PeTA. But I am no longer one of them.

Related Articles:

The Classical Circular Farce of Welfarism

Sexism and Misogyny in the Movement

You Tube video regarding PeTA’s killing of animals