Why I wish PETA would shut up forever

I’m a vegetarian, and I’m pro-animal rights. Not to be smug, but I think the world would be a better place if more people embraced those values, and I’ll gladly do what I can to support anybody who wants to spread the word. Anyone, that is, except for PETA.

The thing about PETA, to put it gently, is they can’t seem to stop saying one stupid thing after another. Earlier today, for example, a post on AdFreak fueled an online furor over PETA’s Save the Whales campaign, which encourages overweight people to lose the “blubber” by adopting a vegetarian diet.

It’s the latest in a long line of insipid PETA campaigns – a couple of which I recently mentioned in an angry comic strip. In case you’re wondering, PETA did indeed compare the brutal murder of Tim McLean to factory farming, prompting a troubled nation to wonder aloud what PETA’s problem is.

And that’s the thing. Every time you hear about PETA, it’s because their latest ad campaign has drawn charges of sexism, racism, or general stupidity of the Tim McLean campaign variety. Meanwhile, I can’t remember the last time PETA was celebrated for making a really good point in a tasteful fashion that was likely to appeal to anyone beyond their camp. To put it bluntly, PETA is an embarrassment to the animal rights and vegetarian movements.

When the Tim McLean campaign inevitably blew up in PETA’s face, they attempted to justify it by saying that it’s their job to be provocative. “The animals don’t benefit from our silence,” they said. “So our thought is always: How can we get people to see that despite their feelings about this kind of violence, they are often paying someone to do exactly what was done to the man on the bus, and worse, just so that they can eat a sandwich? Voila, the ad!”

Their characteristically flippant response, which spilled on for a few more paragraphs, ultimately read like an ill-advised editorial in a left-wing campus zine, rather than a statement from one of the most prominent and supposedly knowledgeable voices in the global animal rights movement.

And that’s what bothers me. For rarely better and generally for worse, PETA is the most widely recognized voice in the animal rights and vegetarian movements. They speak for people like me, and we in turn end up being associated with them, no matter how obnoxious and embarrassing they may be. As I said off the top, I would love to see more people adopt vegetarian and pro-animal rights lifestyles, and I think that would be a lot easier if PETA didn’t exist.

I joked about this earlier, but I would be happy to join an organization called People Who Aren’t a Complete Bunch of Jackasses for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Frankly, I think an organization like that is exactly what a movement dominated by PETA needs at this point.

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