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.


  1. Brand new on baseball, torture, Congress and human rights at Rudely Stamped:

    "A Cock and Bull Story"

    Michael Blaine

  2. Nice and thoughtful blog. I've added a link to you over at Swerve Left (