Thursday, January 31, 2008

It's that time of year again...

PETA has posted their State of the Union Undress 2008 -- the second annual video of a woman taking off her clothes while telling people that animals are harmed for food, clothing, and entertainment.

Now I agree with PETA's stated goal of ending the use of animals for food, clothing, and entertainment. To that end I am vegan, so I clearly put my money where my mouth is.

However, PETA does more to harm animals than help them.

First, PETA's continual use of sexist imagery and off-putting public stunts trivializes the animal rights movement, a movement that is already seen as trivial by the majority of people. How many people will watch the State of the Union Undress and even think about anything other than the naked woman they have delivering it? What tangible good does it do for animals to make public mockeries of the movement? Any publicity is good publicity in a sense, but it is publicity for PETA itself, not for their cause. The organization is a self-perpetuating "movement" of its own at this point; PETA is a brand. And while as a brand it commands a certain amount of brand loyalty, it also distracts people from the actual issues involved. PETA also harms animals directly through the support of kill-shelters, despite the proven success of no-kill alternatives.

But most importantly, PETA congratulates and gives awards to animal-using groups and people for improvements in animal welfare -- improvements that serve to make consumers feel better about eating and otherwise using animals. People who may have felt bad when learning of cruelty to animals used in fast food see PETA congratulating the perpetrators when they stop, and therefore feel that the animals involved are now treated "humanely," as if unnecessary killing can ever be a "humane" act. PETA increases demand for meat and animal products every time they campaign for a minor improvement in welfare and then make a public show if it is won. PETA tells people, by celebrating these animal exploiters as heroes, that it is acceptable to harm animals as long as you don't harm them too much. And that's a ludicrous message for an animal rights group to send.

A coherent position of legitimate animal rights can only revolve around the fundamental concept that animals are not property, and must work to eradicate their present property status. PETA does nothing toward that goal. PETA is not an animal rights organization, they are merely an animal welfare organization, and that just isn't good enough. PETA is part of the problem. It's just a shame that so many good-intentioned animal rights advocates -- like the woman taking off her clothes in the video -- think that they are contributing to the solution.

The majority of this post was originally posted as a comment on Newsvine.

Friday, January 11, 2008


I'm just playing around with the ol' blog and I added a poll in my right column. Since I get a rather minuscule trickle of visitors, I'm leaving it open for a month. Maybe I'll put up a new poll each month or something, who knows? This first question is: "What is your political orientation?"

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What difference does it make?

Look, if I have to choose between a Democrat and a Republican for president, of course I'll choose the Democrat. There's no question that a Clinton or Obama or Edwards would be better than a McCain or Romney or Huckabee, however incrementally. But it's really, really hard for me to get caught up in caring whether it's that Clinton or Obama or Edwards. They are virtually indistinguishable to me, and I am amazed that each candidate's supporters can muster the enthusiasm to rally behind their supposed differences.

It's no secret that I say that all the Democrats are too conservative for me, but I should probably unpack that a little. Most of the Democrats are, on most social issues, acceptable. But on the hot button topics, they are all equally insufficient. Which of those three candidates supports marriage equality for lesbians and gay men again? Oh yes, that's right, none of them.

On foreign policy they are also near-clones. None of them is against war, though they're all against this particular war -- the quibbling is simply over who was against it first and how long to keep it up. And while it's admirable that I don't see any of them championing a new invasion during their term, they all maintain the "support the troops" and "strengthen America's defenses" pro-military rhetoric.

And on economic issues, there's no question that the differences between the candidates virtually disappear. It's not a question of who supports universal healthcare, it's a question of which capitalist, market-based boon for the private sector you want to use. It's not a question of who is taking money from industry, it's a question of which industry is going to get the most in return once the president takes office. Who wants to put decisions in the hand of those affected by them? Who wants to put the minimum wage above the poverty line? Not a Democrat, that's for sure, and certainly not one of the frontrunners.

So why should I care if Clinton or Obama or Edwards wins the candidacy? Democrat is Democrat is Democrat.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Iowa Caucus Results

The Group News Blog has a post showing the results of the Iowa caucus as percentages of the total votes cast, and it demonstrates a radical differential in turnout between the parties. While Mike "my faith doesn't influence my decisions, it drives them" Huckabee can claim a victory on the Republican side, that doesn't amount to any great upwelling of support -- he received less than half the votes that Barack Obama did, and only slightly more than half that either John Edwards or Hillary Clinton did. Huckabee was in a distant fourth place.