By Kristin Beal – Opinion Editor
It’s a typical Sunday, and I’m browsing news websites for anything noteworthy. That’s when I see the ad. Two scantily clad women holding up dead, skinned rabbits with the slogan, “Here’s the rest of your fur coat” printed underneath it.
It’s PETA. For those of you who are unaware of what the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals stands for, its website, Peta.org, states that “PETA focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in the clothing trade, in laboratories, and in the entertainment industry.”
I’m all for that message. The mistreatment of animals is a huge problem, ethically and legally. People shouldn’t go around flaunting their fur coats, and while I’m not saying everyone should be a vegan, those who are and have stuck with it are completely admirable.
What I don’t like is PETA’s radical nature.
The first thing I have an issue with is their ad campaigns. If you’re against selling fur and meat, then selling these barely-dressed women as meat isn’t going to turn me to your cause. Using sex to sell is only appropriate i n cer t a i n situations, for example, selling cars. Advocating animal rights shouldn’t call for using something as degrading as comparing a naked woman to a cow by outlining her backside with boxes labeled “chuck,” “ribs” and “rump.” As if these ad campaigns weren’t enough to infuriate me, I’ve read some quotes by PETA’s president, Ingrid Newkirk, given in an article of The New Yorker. It would be impossible to share them all in this article, but here’s what she describes as PETA’s press strategy: “PETA’s publicity formula is eighty percent outrage, ten percent each of celebrity and truth.”
Well, isn’t that fantastic? Only 10 percent of its press strategy is actually dedicated to the truth. The main goal is to shock and stimulate you with outrageous ads like the ones that feature naked women.
Newkirk then goes on to dish out quote after quote, every sentence scaring me more than the last. Here we have a woman who will not have children because “having a purebred human baby is like having a purebred dog; it is nothing but vanity, human vanity.”
Then we have PETA co – founder Alex Pacheco, who was once quoted in The New York Times saying that animals have the same rights as a retarded human child. Pacheco is basically comparing mentally and physically handicapped children to animals.
I agree that animals have rights. Animals cannot defend themselves, and sometimes we have to step in and defend them when they cannot. I do not agree with putting animal rights on the same level as human rights, though.
Human rights come before animal rights, and I think this is a concept that the humans who run PETA fail to comprehend. We have a responsibility to protect the animals, but not to place their rights before our own.
Animals do not have a constitution or a government. They do not have great philosophers or scientists or leaders. Humans have an undeniably larger mental capacity than animals, therefore making us a superior species.
I don’t mean this in a derogatory way at all. Because humans have power over all other species, it should be our job to protect them. Animals do not have equal rights as humans, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have any rights at all. They are entitled to live and enjoy the earth, just as we do.
We, as humans, also have these rights, but in order to survive we must eat, and that’s where the pigs and cows and birds come in. Even animals eat other animals to survive. This is the fine line between human rights and animal rights that Pacheco and Newkirk have misconstrued.
Yes, animal rights are important, but they are not the only rights that must be defended, and they certainly should not be defended in such a radical manner.