PETA’s disgusting tactics

02.28.03

Michael Demmons has the latest on PETA’s disgusting tactics. PETA is using a poster that is comparing Jews in Nazi concentration camps to chickens served in a meal.

P.E.T.A. has gone WAY overboard. Again. It is absolutely one thing to campaign for the rights of animals. It is entirely fine – even noble to put yourself on the line to help those inhabitants of this planet who are unable to help themselves. But it is positively disgusting to use pictures of Jews in German concentration camps next to pictures of chickens in cages and say one is as bad as the other. I really don’t know what to say about this.

Frankly, neither do I.

Update: It seems the campaign’s creator is Jewish and claims his family lost members in the Holocaust. He also claims that the campaign is being funded by an “anonymous Jewish philanthropist”. I wish I could claim to be more surprised.

The Anti-Defamation League has denounced the campaign, by the way.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joe 03.02.03 at 12:41 AM

I am well aware of the campaign and the controversy. Many of you people believe nothing ever can come close to comparing to the holocaust while you search for any criterion that makes it “unique”. I don’t see the difference between one mass slaughter or another, other than people’s reactions. It’s funny, and by that I mean terrifying, that people deplore some actions when it suits them, and don’t give a damn about others. they may pay them lip service, but that’s it. People are very good at deploring things, but unfortunately they do it a little to selectively to indicate that they really believe in high-handed principles. I’m sorry I haven’t reached their high level of philosophy. Suffering is suffering, period. Unless they can give me some objective law of nature that states people , Jews, Muslims, or whoever, have some greater inherent right to live free of suffering, they have no grounds for criticizing other people’s priorities. Ultimately, the actual law is that the stronger decide what to condemn, support and ignore. they do so based on their own interests, not principles.

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2 Peter 03.02.03 at 4:46 AM

I think that juxtaposing a picture of emaciated concentration inmates lying in their wooden bunks whith pictures of caged chickens is a little disgusting no matter what you think of the “holocaust industry”.

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3 John Anderson 03.02.03 at 5:55 PM

I’ve said many times – PETA is bloodthirsty. IE, what happens if we close down the use of chickens for food? Simple: a few will go to zoos and billions will be slaughtered, or turned loose to die of starvation if not predation. Same for dairy and meat cattle. Domestic turkeys. I do not like the way many animals are treated, but I object to the treatment not the use of them for food, leather, medicines, or whatever any more than I object to cats being kept in houses (now, St. Bernards in a three-room apartment, as occurred at one place I lived, that is a different thing).

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4 Joe 03.05.03 at 3:16 AM

Thank you for proving my point. You don’t argue for anything, but state you find that “disgusting”.
Your positions do not in fact argue against the concentration camp or gulag system. You can claim the Nazis belief that
certain people were subhuman was fallacious, but you cannot argue that, given their belief that killing subhumans was okay,
they should not have done it. If you condemn suffering as a matter of principle, then you condemn it universally. Otherwise,
not only are you a hypocrite if you criticize others for the dispositions, regarding what is disgusting for example, but if someone
equates humans, or any groups within humanity, according to whatever criteria you deem animals unworthy of protection, the you lack
sufficient grounds for condemning your own brutal death. Why is treating animals like concnetration camp inmates not be condemned?
Essentially, the implication of your statement that you find it disgusting to compare, means that if you consider one group inferior
(whatever your criteria) it more acceptable for them to suffer than others.

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5 James 03.05.03 at 5:53 AM

I have a very hard time understanding what Joe is talking about. PETA is running pictures of pigs and chickens being slaughtered, and making an equivalence with people being slaughtered.

Those people whose relatives are in the PETA pictures don’t like being equated with pigs and chickens. More, they don’t like the mass killing of people being trivialized as equivalent to the mass killing of animals.

PETA’s point is quite different, obviously. They want to show that animals are people, too, and that pigs and chickens being killed en masse is every bit as horrific as people being killed en masse. But the approach they’ve taken doesn’t work with audiences who don’t equate pigs with people: for the latter, the effect is a lowest-common-denominator one (the people are no more than pigs), not a highest-common-denominator (those pigs are being killed just like people).

PETA screwed up.

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6 segacs 03.05.03 at 3:12 PM

Look, you can call someone a hypocrite for condemning the suffering of one group of people and not another. One group of people.

Last I checked, chickens and pigs aren’t people. As sentient beings, they of course have rights and I don’t think that unnecessary suffering of animals is a good thing – but you’re damned right I’m going to condemn human suffering more strongly than animals being killed for meat. If that makes me a hypocrite in your book, I’ll wear that label gladly. Especially considering PETA’s stance on human suffering, and how it frequently refuses to condemn the murder of innocent humans, only animals.

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7 Joe 03.06.03 at 1:57 AM

My point exactly. I am suggesting that the concern of an individual gradually extens outwards. People care more about their own family and friends then care about other people. Next they care, at least in deed, primarily about their own ethnic/religious/national etc. groups. The concern for others gradually lessens the further one goes down the list. Why does one draw the line at people? Sentience and consciosness are essentially a continuum. We have people with retardations and serious diabilities, as well people with almost no higher brain functions. Whereas chimpanzees have the mental age and consciousness of a human two year old. What is your basis for distinguishing humans from other animals? If it is subjective, then so be it. If there is some criterion used, then I am suggesting that it is most likely arbitrary and subjective anyhow. If the Nazis believed subhumans should be killed, given their belief did they not have a right to? They considered certain groups of people less worthy of life, but does that justify what they did to them? I am sure you will say no. You gave your answer to that. Because you value groups of “people”, which I take to mean all people. But please explain why you value people more than animals. If you have a reason that can be argued, then it is objective. If you do not have a valid reason, then your disposition is subjective. If it is subjective, then you have no basis for criticizing peta or anyone else because they equate the suffering of humans and other animals, or if they deplore animal suffering more, no more than you have a basis for criticizing other who think blacks or jews suffering is meaningless.
Furthermore, in many cases people DO condemn the suffering of one group of people over another. Many people in fact compete for who has the greatest tragedy. blacks and jews each consider themselves to be america’s number one victims. they each minimize the other’s suffering (even though many of them never actually suffered through anything, but since it happened decades or centuries ago, they like to carry the burden) claiming that theirs was “worse”. People tend to ignore the Gypsies for example. If people are really concerned about restitution to victims of WWII, the Gypsies lost more people proportionally then the Jews, yet for some reason, no Gypsy has ever received one cent in compensation for anything. Even other definable group that suffered during the war received some form of compensation, perhaps not enough, but at least some. Howcome none of these activists speak up for the gypsies? Because they work not from high handed principles, but from their own subjective interests, which is fine. That’s the way the world works. The problem arises when they begin criticizing others with arguments based on principles. Louis Farrakhan for example criticized Jews for not paying enough attention to black suffering in America, since after all slavery, unlike the Holocaust, actually took place on American soil. Louis’ argument does not hold water as both he and the lobby groups he is criticizing only use principles as a pretext to their own advantage. When it does not suit their purpose, they ignore those principles. You can claim you prefer humans over animals based on your own subjective disposition, but unless you give an objective reason why the suffering of people and other animals should be differentiated, then you cannot criticize other people’s subjective presuppositions. Additionally, it is correct that most people make an arbitrary/subjective distinction between people and animals. That is why the peta will likely falter. Their metaphysical premise, however, that people and animals ought to share the same rights to avoid suffering is just as subjective as people’s belief in the opposite.

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8 Joe 03.06.03 at 1:59 AM

Yes Peta did screw up, as most people do not share their presuppositions. The problem, at least in this instance, is with their campaign, not their beliefs.

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9 James 03.07.03 at 3:38 AM

Well, I’ll go halfway. The problem is with their campaign. As to whether I’ve no problem with their beliefs — well, I’m not too familiar with PETA, but here it sounds like their beliefs are that humans and animals are functionally equivalent and should enjoy the same set of rights. I haven’t really thought about that, but it sounds a bit odd.

The problem, as I see it, is that you seem to want to define a spectrum, humanity at one end, animals at the other, and then to argue that those who disagree with PETA are making arbitrary lines on that shades-of-gray spectrum.

That doesn’t make sense to me. Medical science may lead us in another direction — or ethicists in yet another, I suppose — but, for now, this is not shades-of-grey (analogue), but one-or-the-other (binary). There are humans, and there are non-humans. Distinguishing between them is not something I find challenging.

And so objecting to an equivalence between animals and humans does not preclude one from advocating equal rights among all humans. You seem to be saying it does. I don’t see the logic.

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10 segacs 03.07.03 at 4:33 AM

I’m with James. Objectively, scientifically, I don’t see where the problem is in distinguishing between a human and, say, an ape or a fish or a bird.

Now if you want to argue that both deserve equal rights, go right ahead. I won’t agree, but I don’t begrudge you the right to make that argument. But the “where do you draw the line between humans and animals” argument is just plain silly. Humans are humans. That’s our species. Other animals are of other speces. I don’t see the cause for dispute here.

Incidentally, my problem is more with PETA’s beliefs then with its campaign tactics. Its goal is to shock. It works. To me, that’s not so terrible; it just speaks of savvy marketing. But it’s the actions and the goals behind the marketing where the problems come in.

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11 Joe 03.07.03 at 10:18 PM

First, there are obviously differences between all species. That you can the difference between them is very nice, but it is irrelevant. I’ll try to be clearer. Talking of ‘equality’ in a prescriptive sense is subjective. What criteria are used to state that humans have the right not to be tortured to death, but not other animaks? What criteria does one use to determine what deserves the right not to be tortured? I said that any criteria used is flawed, and the only reason people suggest animals have less of a right to be tortured is subjective. I am not disputing the differences or similarities, merely why people think animals have less of a right regarding torture. Ultimately, PETAs position is subjective, as is anyone else’s when they talk about rights and who should get them. Thus criticizing other people because they believe the right to be free from torture does not hold up. Whether or not humans and animals, only one or both deserve one right or another, is based on subjective premises. It depends on how important one regards both individually and in relation to each other. The only spectrum I would maintani is that each person has a continuum, in this case all shades of grey, of whom they care about. Family, friends, acquaintances, people of the same nationality, religion etc., other people animals and so on(generally in that order) is the order of precedence most people care about. They care most about family, would react more strongly if harm came to them, and the amount of empathy or consideration lessens the further one goes. Now that is subjective. When one attempts to impose some sort of code based on that, in determing who should be helped if being killed, for example, any discussion would be subjective. So when discussing the concept of ‘rights’, especially when one is opposed to legal positivism, who should get what rights really is subjective. For example, people who live in Quebec have more rights here than people who live in Sudan. There are differences, but whatever criteria one uses to draw a line for any specific ‘right’ is ultimately subjective. One can believe people are ‘equal’ to other animals or not, but that is a separate issue from whether the suffering of one is ‘worse’ than the other. The line between humans and animals, or between any species, depends on what characteristic you use. Humans possess the same characteristics with many other animals, and they differ only in degree. Humans are obviously a different species, but why is the suffering of a chicken worse than that of a human? People feel that way. That is it. The same why people in deed feel worse about the suffering of their family, than they do about the suffering of others. People on one side or another of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict both care so much about their own “people’s” suffering, but ignore or minimize the suffering of their “opponnents”. They might claim that all human suffering is equal, but that is descriptively erroneous because they in fact do not regard the suffering of all humans as equal, even though they pay that notion lip service. Furthermore, you mention the suggesting that if two creatures or species are “functionally equivalent” then they should enjoy the same rights. Animals are not “functionally equivalent” to humans, therefore they should not enjoy the same rights. That is an arbitrary and subjectively based criterion for who should enjoy rights. If two things are not funcationally equivalent, then they should not have the same rights. Why should that be a criteria for bestowing rights? And there are of course many kinds of rights. One can say that animals have a right not to be killed, but they do not have a right to got on welfare. If someone suggested putting unemployed animals on welfare, then that may be deemed making animals and humans ‘equal’, whatever equal is supposed to refer to. Back to the point, if two humans are not functionally equivalent, then should they not enjoy the same rights? Again, is there an objective criterion for bestowing rights, and which rights does which criterion bestow? There is no possible objective argument that would include all people as deserving of some rights and other animals minimally of others. These criteria are invented to give some form of objectivity to people who try to objectively justify why some creatures should enjoy some rights and others different ones, if any at all. If you go by an objective principle, then it must be consistent. What principle is it that you determine what deserves various rights?

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