Sunday, December 01, 2013

Animal Style

Forget the foi gras. Lay off the lamb. Refuse the ribs. Shun the sushi. Pass on the prime rib.
Drop that cheeseburger and put your hands in the air.
PETA is back in town. And they’re mad. So mad they’re taking aim at the Rose Parade with their peculiar brand of anthropomorphic totalitarianism.
Or, to put it more simply, to force upon us their view that the Earth’s animals are our buddies, not brunch.
PETA stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. It claims to have 3 million members and supporters and to be the largest animal rights group in the world.
The group opposes factory farming, fur farming, animal testing, and animals in entertainment. It also campaigns against eating meat, fishing and the killing of animals regarded as pests.
Of course, PETA isn’t the only passenger on this particular bandwagon. The Humane Society of the United States claims it is the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organization.
Then there are groups like the Animal Welfare Society, Best Friends Animal Society, D.E.L.T.A. (Dedication and Everlasting Love to Animals), Friends of Animals, PetSmart Charities and Wildlife Conservation Society. All are well funded and run by dedicated staff.
Animal welfare is not a stupid idea. In fact, it’s a noble undertaking. But like any idea, it can be carried to stupid lengths. And that’s where PETA excels.
PETA is noisy. It is angry. It is crude. It believes in getting its message across by staging outrageous stunts.   Its members are self-described “press sluts.” You might even call them “ham-fisted.”
For example, the PETA people are upset that Sea World will have a float in this year’s Rose Parade depicting killer whales frolicking in the waves.
The group is demanding that the float be changed to show an Orca whale trapped in a fish bowl surrounded by locks and chains. A banner reads “SeaWorld of Hurt Where Happiness Tanks.”
There is a point to be made here. A recent documentary called “Blackfish” calls into question the treatment and training of killer whales at Sea World, focusing on the very grisly and public death of a trainer who was killed by an Orca.
So what does PETA do? They picket outside the coronation ceremony for the Rose Queen. Of course, the queen and her court have about as much to do with the selection of the floats and themes as PETA does in choosing the entrees at Taco Bell. So all they accomplish is to irritate those who are there to celebrate a memorable moment in the lives of these young women.
Score it Anger 1, Converts 0.
PETA has been here before. In 2011, they objected to a city of Glendale float that depicted an elephant towing a calliope. Glendale city fathers, seeking to appease PETA by embracing mouselike timidity,   agreed to change the name of the entry from “Stepping Out in Style” to “Just Imagine the Music, Fun and Freedom.” Which pleased no one.
PETA has a record of shooting itself in the foot.
In 1991, less than a month after police arrested Jeffrey Dahmer for murdering 17 men in Ohio and Wisconsin, PETA paid the Des Moines Register $11,214 to run an ad likening the gruesome crime spree — which involved sodomy, necrophilia and cannibalism — to practices within the meatpacking industry.
NBC declined to air a PETA ad featuring scantily clad women embracing their vegetables during a Super Bowl. The commercial claimed that “studies show vegetarians have better sex” and showed simulated foreplay between the nearly nude women and their veggies of choice.
When PETA launched its “Holocaust on Your Plate” campaign in 2003, an exhibition featured eight 60-square-foot panels juxtaposing scenes from Nazi death camps with images of factory farms and slaughterhouses.
In 2008, PETA put a naked pregnant woman in a pen in London to encourage people to eat vegetarian — and to call attention to the fact that all days are bad days for pregnant sows.
Gary Yourofsy, a paid PETA lecturer, once declared that “every woman ensconced in fur should endure a rape so vicious that it scars them forever.”
You get the idea.
PETA believes any publicity is good publicity, even if it angers and inflames. By embracing that philosophy, they have done more harm than good to their cause.
The irony of their Rose Parade shenanigans is that there are several other animal welfare floats in the parade including the Beverly Hills Pet Care Foundation dedicated to the advocacy of shelter animals and the Lucy Pet Foundation which provides spay/neuter clinics across the country.
I’m betting their appearances will result in a lot more support than PETA’s in-your-face gimmickry.

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