| Potentially edible!|
“”I'm half-convinced that PETA is a false flag operation to discredit animal rights, secretly funded by cattle farmers.
“”Puzzlingly, while representing to the world that 'animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment or abuse in any other way,' PETA seems to employ Naruto [a macaque] as an unwitting pawn in its ideological goals.
|—Three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit|
People Eating Tasty Animals People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is an American animal rights organization and vegan cult. They oppose hunting, fishing, animal testing, pets, seeing eye dogs (!!!), and zoos while promoting a vegan diet. They are best known for their frequent inflammatory and downright irresponsible media stunts, such as throwing red paint or fake blood on people wearing fur coats (but never a biker's leather vest) and encouraging college students to drink beer rather than milk. PETA is also infamous (and much criticized) for running emotionally appealing ads which have compared livestock treatment to both the Holocaust and to the mass lynching of African-Americans. Their trademark ads tend to involve famous actresses (who may or may not be actual vegans) and models photographed nude (while covering up their naughty bits). Animal rights activist and professional troll Ingrid Newkirk is the president of PETA, the organization's Senior Vice President and creator of much of its nutty campaigns is Dan Mathews.
- 1 History
- 2 Unethical treatment of animals
- 3 Some of PETA's nuttier actions
- 3.1 Ben & Jerry's
- 3.2 Would you like a side of chemophobia with those chicken wings?
- 3.3 "Got Beer?"
- 3.4 Great Renaming Campaign
- 3.5 Hypocrisy
- 3.6 PornETA.xxx
- 3.7 Funding terrorism
- 3.8 Satanic panic
- 3.9 Sea kittens
- 3.10 Steve Irwin was bad!
- 3.11 Super Bowl commercials
- 3.12 Video Games are serious business
- 3.13 Idioms Are Racist!
- 4 Exploiting minorities and women
- 5 PETA and violence
- 6 Cases when PETA encourage the use of animal products
- 7 PETA does something good for once
- 8 Astroturf
- 9 See also
- 10 External links
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
PETA was co-founded by Ingrid Newkirk, who was Washington D.C.'s first female poundmaster, and Alex Pacheco, after Pacheco uncovered the abuse of monkeys at a Silver Spring, Maryland, laboratory in 1981. This and the court litigation that followed led to changes in the laws in 1985 regarding animal testing to ensure against cruelty. PETA could have, and probably should have, quit at that point because they have become somewhat more extreme and absurd since.
Unethical treatment of animals
No fur, no meat, but euthanasia is OK?
“”Euthanasia is the kindest gift to a dog or cat unwanted and unloved and for many animals it is the only loving touch they have ever felt.
“”There are no homes! There aren't enough homes for the adoptable dogs let alone these ones. God you're so naïve – it's disturbing.
PETA maintains a puzzling attitude towards pet ownership, asserting that "it would have been in the animals' best interests if the institution of 'pet keeping'—i.e., breeding animals to be kept and regarded as 'pets'—never existed" but that responsible pet owners should adopt from pounds or animal shelters. Yet very few of the dogs, cats and other companion animals entrusted to PETA's care are rehomed, with the vast majority being put to death.
In April 2009, PETA came under fire for euthanizing 2,124 of the 2,216 (96%) of the
pets companion animals turned in to its US headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, during 2008. Not to mention that it actively lied to other shelters who did not know that the animals turned over were going to be quickly euthanized before they even crossed state lines.[better source needed] A PETA spokesperson said that this was OK because:
- PETA doesn't really operate as an animal shelter (so why do they take animals that should go to shelters in the first place?)
- America is facing a pet overpopulation epidemic and euthanasia is the most humane solution (unlike no-kill shelters that spay and neuter animals before putting them up for adoption)
- The vast majority of animals that PETA receives are not suited for adoption because they are unsocialized or too sick to make good
- Euthanizing animals allowed PETA to have more operating capital for shock marketing campaigns
- Yes, some adoptable animals were euthanized. But, hey, everybody makes mistakes now and then, right?
Critics claim that this incident — and PETA's tepid response to being called out on it — illustrates how PETA's high-profile advocacy regarding vegetarianism and the fur trade is a cash cow that can't be spent on the day-to-day plight of real animals.
Senior vice-president at PETA, Daphna Nachminovitch, said publicly “We are not in the home finding business” and President Ingrid Newkirk has said "We do not advocate “right to life” for animals".  Newkirk used to euthanise animals at a shelter she worked at. She claims this was to spare them other suffering, which while potentially true, is rather similar to the justifications used by so called Angel of Death serial killers, who derive pleasure from killing, but tell themselves that they are working to benefit the victim, sometimes escalating to killing the healthy and easily treated. PETA's Virginia shelter has an average kill rate of 83%, usually of healthy and adoptable animals.
PETA even went as far as sending cookies and a "thank you" note to a no-kill shelter that announced they might have to start killing again.
The killing continues, and by 2013 PETA had killed almost 30,000 domestic animals, many in horrific shelter conditions and others killed in "death vans" within minutes of being handed over to PETA's care, without being admitted to shelters at all.
These shady activities notwithstanding, the organization is still able to attract pet-owning celebrities to promote its warm and fuzzy public image. Still, this piece of PETA hypocrisy suggests it might possess an element of realism (apart from their keen ability to lie to the public) that distinguishes the organization from the (even more) insane hard green movement's appeals for mass genocide of humans to make room for animals.[note 1] Some might say that their celebrity supporters (which include many a third-rate celebrity, including ex-game show host Bob Barker and new wave band The B-52's of all people) deliberately ignore criticism of PETA.
Animal testing hypocrisy
Despite PETA saying it would not support a cure for AIDS if it involved animals, its VP MaryBeth Sweetland uses insulin derived from an animal source for diabetes. Saying that she needs her life to "fight for the rights of animals", but it's totally cool for everyone else to suffer and die.
PETA advocates to "send back items that you have from companies that test on animals", but Ingrid Newkirk is fine with receiving IV medication, many of which were developed from use of (gasp!) animal testing.
Stealing a dog from someone's porch to kill it
In October 2014 two PETA employees snuck onto private property to grab a pet chihuahua, which ended up getting euthanized.  To PETA's "defense", maybe the employees mistook the dog for a stray.
Still, that's not much consolation for a family who lost a beloved pet.
Some of PETA's nuttier actions
The conventional wisdom on PETA is that they are a group with a moderate membership... and hard green leadership. PETA regularly collaborates with ALF and other ecoterrorist groups, though they themselves pretend to keep their hands clean; this led to the FBI investigating them for a number of years. Their reception even among liberals is, to put it politely, decidedly mixed. Less politely, they're extremely divisive, and likely to spark flamewars in gatherings of multiple points of view. While many liberals would argue that a certain amount of regulation of animal rights is necessary, the scientific community in particular (mostly centrist-to-liberal in political views) strongly opposes PETA's antivivisection shtick as being unreasonably restricting on medical research due to current technology's lack of ability to accurately simulate living systems.
Ben & Jerry's
On 23 September 2008, PETA issued a press release asking Ben & Jerry's to stop using milk from dairy animals, and instead start using — uh, um - human breast milk. No reaction yet from the National Organization for Women regarding the image of potentially millions of women attached to automatic milking machines (though, as with just about everything else, there is a niche in the porn industry about that). Of course, human milk-based dairy products and ice cream already exist, if you know where to find them and can pay the obscenely high price tag and the possible risk of ending up being treated as a sex offender. Since then, Ben and Jerry's have produced a range of vegan ice creams using almond and coconut milk, with nobody needing to pull on anybody's nipples.
Would you like a side of chemophobia with those chicken wings?
On August 15, 2013, PETA sent a letter to Drew Cerza (founder of the National Buffalo Wing Festival) claiming that "consuming poultry while pregnant may lead to birth defects in utero, including smaller-than-average penises for newborn boys".
This is (obviously) an incorrect statement since they're referring to phthalates on which you can find enough information with a quick Google search to know exactly how wrong PETA is on this subject.
In 2000, PETA actually campaigned that beer's better for you than milk, and specifically targeted college students. While this proved too stupid and dangerous a public campaign even by PETA standards, they still endorse this nonsense on the organization's website. Beer does contain some nutrients when drunk in moderation (including potassium and a small amount of B-vitamins) but unlike milk no vitamin B12.
Great Renaming Campaign
PETA has sent demands and cash offers to some towns requesting that they change their names, including Hamburg and Fishkill (both New York), and Rodeo (California). Their alternative for Hamburg? Veggieburg. No, really. (Incidentally, the 'kill' in Fishkill is the Dutch word for 'creek', and hamburgers are named after the city, like frankfurters, wieners, berliners and rottweilers.)
PETA also sent a letter to to the Synth-pop musicians the Pet Shop Boys requesting they change their name to the Rescue Shelter Boys. You can't make this stuff up. Clearly more in jest is PETA's proposal to Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle that the state's license plate slogan be changed from "America's Dairyland" to "America's Cow Hell" (which, admittedly, would be a kickass band name).
PETA has also been cited for hypocrisy regarding the celebrities it uses in its PR campaigns. As examples, Pamela Anderson and Eva Mendes have appeared in some of PETA's risque ads; however, Eva admits to eating fish - while Pamela auctioned off a Dodge Viper to raise money for PETA (despite the car containing leather seats). Bill Maher has also served as a board member of PETA, yet admits to eating meat on occasion.
On 16 August 2011, it was announced that PETA would finally cross the line that its previous ad campaigns had only hinted at — it planned to start a hardcore pr0n website.[note 2] According to HuffPo, PETA confirmed the website in a phone interview. Allegedly, the content on the new site would be vegan-oriented with anti-meat, anti-fur, anti-leather messaging. Which, of course, prompts a few snarky questions:
- "How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?"
- Can a porn site live on carrots and cucumbers alone?
- No bears? C'mon!
However, considering PETA's track record at announcing outrageous publicity items only to backtrack when the public reacted negatively, we would be remiss if we failed to include one of these.(Warning: Poe's Law in action!)
In early June 2012, the website was launched, being renamed "Peta.xxx". The site only a few bits of content that barely qualified as "porn", and such sexy concepts as a "hardcore videos" section of the site featuring videos of animal cruelty. Instead of "bears", you got the kinda rapey adult film actor Ron Jeremy reminding everyone to spay and neuter your pets.
Being a classic PETA bait and switch, the site was pulled down only a couple of weeks after it was launched. The June 19, 2012 archive.org version of the main page at peta.xxx simply redirects to a page on the main peta.org site.
“”I would hazard to say that no movement for social change has ever succeeded without 'the militarism component.' Not until black demonstrators resorted to violence did the national government work seriously for civil rights legislation. In the 1930s labor struggles had to turn violent before any significant gains were made. In 1850 white abolitionists, having given up on peaceful means, began to encourage and engage in actions that disrupted plantation operations and liberated slaves. Was that all wrong?… There is a difference between violence to property and violence to people, of course. The ALF would not hurt a mouse, but it will burn a building. ... Thinkers may prepare revolutions, but bandits must carry them out.
|—Ingrid Newkirk, founder of PETA in Afterword: The ALF: Who, Why, and What?. Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals.|
“” If we really believe that these animals do have the same right to be free from pain and suffering at our hands, then, of course we’re going to be, as a movement, blowing stuff up and smashing windows. For the record, I don’t do this stuff, but I do advocate it. I think it’s a great way to bring about animal liberation … I think it would be a great thing if all of these fast-food outlets, and these slaughterhouses, and these laboratories, and the banks that fund them exploded tomorrow. I think it’s perfectly appropriate for people to take bricks and toss them through the windows, and everything else along the line. Hallelujah to the people who are willing to do it.
|—Bruce Friedrich, former PETA worker|
At the height of the Satanic panic in the late 1980s, PETA's newsletter reported (as fact) rumors that pets were being stolen by Satanists for animal sacrifice and "crucifixion" at Halloween. PETA suggested that people keep their black cats inside around Halloween to protect them from Satanists. For a long time, they maintained a "Halloween advisory" on their website, omitting any mention of Satanism or animal sacrifice, yet noting with approval that many shelters refuse to adopt out black cats during October.
Among PETA's more ridiculous campaigns was a 2009 attempt to rebrand fish as "sea kittens," because having a cutesy name shared by an animal people are less inclined to harm might end fishing and make children less intent on eating them. Somehow. Letters were even sent to high schools in Whitefish, Montana and Spearfish, South Dakota in an attempt to change their names to "Sea Kitten High School" (rather than the sensible choice of naming themselves after their towns), although they now claim the requests were "tongue-in-cheek".
Steve Irwin was bad!
In what is perhaps one of their single most idiotic decisions in recent history, PETA criticized Google for having their Google doodle be a drawing of beloved icon Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, who tragically died after being impaled by a stingray — on his birthday to boot. PETA actually framed his death as him somehow “harassing” the sting ray — ignoring what happened was a freak accident and none too subtly implying that Steve’s death was his own fault. Along with that, PETA has tried to paint and mocked Steve Irwin’s massive conservation efforts to save endangered species as him harassing them when they should be left alone in their natural habitat, glossing over how his work inspired millions to help animals and was aimed at saving those endangered species by moving them to a safer habitat. The social media backlash that ensued is truly something to behold. It is generally agreed upon as being one of the few times the entire internet has banded together on something other than Net Neutrality.
Super Bowl commercials
Every year, PETA produces a cheaply-made commercial with NSFW content that is hyper-sexualized, not to mention outrageously sexist. They then submit the commercial to the NFL for inclusion in the Super Bowl. The commercials are so increasingly over-the-top that they are always rejected, even when PETA offers double (or triple) the going ad rate for the game. The 2011 example, allegedly a compilation of "out-takes" from the 2010 commercial, showed a group of bikini-clad actresses — and one pasty, shirtless actor — playing with vegetables as if they were sex toys.
Video Games are serious business
PETA has protested many a video game in the years it has been active.
In the game series Pokémon, a ten year old kid is sent
to get lost in the woods on a journey to capture all the Pokémon because Science!, and of course fighting said 'mons to be the very best. It's kind of fun. Unlike Ben Carson, PETA is not a fan. PETA sees Pokémon as akin to dogfighting, and to this end created its own parody. This is not as fun. While you could argue against violence in video games, Pokémon is fairly tame compared to most other games, like any RPG game where you kill sapient beings for money and experience. In Pokémon, the creatures don't even die. They only faint if they get KO'd.[note 3] What’s particularly hilarious about this is that it isn’t uncommon for deconstructionist Pokémon fanfics to portray battles as dogfighting, putting PETA’s response to the games about at the level of crappy fan fiction.
They also got all sorts of upset at Mario for wearing a Tanooki suit in 2011, with Super Mario 3D Land. Which was 23 years after the first time he wore a Tanooki Suit, in Super Mario Bros. 3. This doesn't include the times he (and not to mention his friends) dressed as a frog, a bee, a penguin, and there was a planned chicken suit. Also, Assassin’s Creed publisher Ubisoft got attacked by them after they announced that players will be able to hunt whales in the next entry of the series, Blizzard got an earful for allowing players to club seals in World of Warcraft. As a reaction to the indie game Super Meat Boy by Ed McMillen, PETA made the parody game Super Tofu Boy. In response, the developers of Super Meat Boy created a nearly worthless character named Tofu Boy, which the player can acquire by putting in the cheat code petaphile in the character selection screen!  They're even linked to releasing a virus infected version of an Android app called Dog Wars, a game about dog fighting that they wanted banned.
Idioms Are Racist!
In early December 2018, PETA outdid themselves with a tweet demanding changes to various sayings involving animals. Among the top choices:
- "Kill two birds with one stone" became "feed two birds with one scone."
- "Beat a dead horse" became "feed a fed horse."
- "Bring home the bacon" became "bring home the bagels."
- "Take the bull by the horns" became "take a rose by the thorns."
Crazy as that was, PETA topped it by openly comparing the use of such phrases as unacceptable as using racist, homophobic, or ableist language. Needless to say, the Internet had a field day with reactions and even various commentators mocking how PETA was equating centuries-old phrases with human bigotry. Though being provocative and drawing attention has usually been the point. As long as a substantial amount of people react, there will be more outrageous campaigns by PETA.
Exploiting minorities and women
PETA has co-opted language of human tragedies and civil rights struggles in order to compare animals to humans. It has also come under fire for the way its ads portray women and people with disabilities.
Got Autism Quackery?
PETA launched a campaign linking the consumption of milk to autism, despite the existence of zero evidence for such a link. They were (rightfully) called out on it by several news outlets, websites and, of course, by people on Twitter.
This doesn't stop PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk, though:
“”"Yes, there are only a small number of studies," says Newkirk. "But that doesn't discount it."
It's hardly a scientific consensus.
"I'm not looking for a consensus. I'm looking for thought provoking."
Isn't that just bad science?"It's not bad science. There's a link. Read the studies. Decide yourself. But every day people are told to drink milk, how it builds strong bones and so on. We don't have millions and millions of pounds to brainwash people so we have our gimmicky thing. Hello! Milk has been linked to autism."
And as if the inaccuracy weren't bad enough, the ad exploited autism stigma, further alienating a group of people who have already been ostracized. It called autism a "devastating disease," and said that autistic children were "antisocial" and prone to "screaming" (because, as we all know, non-autistic children never scream and autism is definitely the worst case scenario). You'd think that saying rotten things about people with disabilities would be too cartoonishly evil, but... oh, wait, cartoonishly evil is the norm for PETA.
Godwin's Law shits itself
“”It is disgusting that people would stoop so low as to use the Holocaust as an advertising gimmick.
|—Holocaust survivor who protested PETA's exhibit|
A 2003 PETA ad campaign called "The Holocaust on Your Plate" drew a moral equivalence between the consumption of meat and the genocidal murders of millions of Jews, Slavs, Roma peoples, homosexuals, political opponents, and others in Nazi Germany's concentration camps. It juxtaposed pictures of pigs in pens and children in concentration camps with headlines like "For animals, all people are Nazis."
The campaign drew immediate outrage — not outrage about eating meat, but outrage over their exploitation of genocide to make their point.
The Anti-Defamation League denounced the campaign and Germany's Central Council of Jews filed a lawsuit against PETA. In 2009, a German court banned PETA from comparing meat eating to the Holocaust.
In 2009 PETA held a protest in which they picketed a kennel club's dog show dressed in Ku Klux Klan uniforms, passing out flyers comparing the breeding of purebred dogs to the Ku Klux Klan's ideal of a pure race. Way to keep it classy, guys!
Appropriating black activism
“”"PETA operates by getting publicity any way they can... They're comparing chickens to black people?"
|—John White, NAACP spokesperson|
PETA has compared its issues to the historical struggles of black people fighting for their rights. Researcher Luis C. Rodrigues has described its approach as "white normative," promoting racist hierarchies and alienating black people.
One 2005 campaign juxtaposed images of people in color in chains with pictures of shackled elephants and caged chickens. "Black people in America have had quite enough of being compared to animals without PETA joining in," said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project with the SPLC.
Other ads drew comparisons between the meat industry and the lynching of African Americans. Photos of lynched black men would be shown next to hanging pig corpses. Yes, really: they showed pictures of actual dead human beings in public.
Its 2020 Superbowl ad showed animals taking a knee like Black Lives Matter activist Colin Kaepernick. While PETA claimed it was paying "homage," black people on Twitter felt different and criticized it for appropriation.
Questionable treatment of women
PETA has used ads of nearly- or completely-naked women to drive its agenda. One included a naked model barely covering her private parts with a large crucifix (which didn't please many Christians). These women's images may be edited to appear mutilated or dead.
While people may disagree on what counts as "exploiting women," we can probably all agree that gory pictures of mutilated naked women aren't appropriate to display in public.
PETA has also engaged in body-shaming "humor." There was the billboard ad saying "Save the whales. Lose the blubber: go vegetarian" with a picture of a headless obese woman in a bikini. And then a photo of a woman wearing only underwear with fake hair coming out from the underwear and the words "fur trim: unattractive." In case women didn't have enough insecurities.
PETA and violence
In 2013, PETA released a game in which you play as an MMA fighter who attacks scientists who experiment on animals, saying "Ever wish you could punch an animal experimenter in the face? Here's your chance." Its Twitter account said it did not support real-life violence.
Cases when PETA encourage the use of animal products
PETA are OK with people using analog photography, despite the fact that all photographic film and paper contains gelatin, especially if you're taking photographs of animal abuse (digital photography is also a viable alternative). (They're probably less keen if you stage the animal abuse and then film it on 35mm.)
PETA is supplying Human-like simulation mannequins for Egyptian surgeons so the surgeons don't have to practice on sheep.
PETA has been attacked by astroturf organisations run by the junk food industry and Russia Today. One of the most commonly-cited (even in this very article!), the "Center for Consumer Freedom", is a front group for restaurant and meatpacking companies that also busies itself spreading misinformation about meat substitutes and opposing mandatory labeling laws, among other things. The popular site PETA kills Animals is an astroturf. PETA doesn't actually regularly kidnap family pets to kill. The closest they have actually come to this was Maya the Chihuahua, who didn't have a collar on, meaning it was likely an accident. Still doesn't excuse it much, of course.
And this is as pro-PETA as this article will get.
- PETA official website
- Advocacy Group Decries PETA's Inhumane Treatment Of Women, The Onion News Network
- Ingrid Newkirk personally does belong to the hard greeners with her ludicrous claims about guide dogs being "animal slaves". Yeah, we're sure these dogs would much prefer the nasty, brutish and short life to being fed and cared for in this wholly unnatural way.
- We don't really know yet if it will be called PornETA.xxx, but it seems as good a name as any.
- To be entirely fair to PETA, the whole "Pokémon as dogfighting" concern has been brought up before, and is actually a plot point in Pokémon: Black and Pokémon: White, and is handled much better than PETA's take on it.
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- Holocaust survivors protest ads - Expatica
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- Group blasts PETA 'Holocaust' project - CNN Archives
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- PETA Evaluates Charges Of Racism - CBS News
- White normativity, animal advocacy and PETA's campaigns
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- PETA's poor defence for beating up scientists - Speaking of Research
- Calvin Klein Pie-Faced - CBS News
- PETA Gone Wild: Flour Bombing Kim Kardashian, Accusing HBO of "Murder" - Daily Beast
- 10 Celebrities Who've Been Slammed By PETA - Vibe
- Does film contain gelatin?, About PETA FAQ, undated (accessed 24 Oct 2020)
- Egyptian Surgeons Will No Longer Practice on Sheep, Thanks to PETA by Greg Thomas. Motherboard Vice
- Watchdog fail: PETA killed nearly 2,000 shelter animals in 2013 - report Russia Today
- See the Wikipedia article on Center for Organizational Research and Education § Activism websites.
- Rumor: PETA workers are stealing family pets and euthanizing them. Rating: Mixture. Snopes