More madness from PETA

My earlier post on People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was perhaps not clear enough.

PETA is not for “the ethical treatment of animals”. They are for treating animals as if they were furry humans. In fact, they are for treating animals better than we treat humans. This is a dangerous philosophy.

To equate human rights with animal rights is to diminish the value of human beings. First, which animals do we apply these rights to? The cute ones? Bunnies? Drosophilia?

And in their battle for equal rights for all animals, humans included, do they work for the rights of people?

One sick post on their website (to which I will not link) has a “Final Four” of scientists who work with animals. This page posts the locations and photos of the researchers, with inflammatory language, such as “remov[es] cats’ eyes while they’re still alive”, but of course doesn’t mention the goals or accomplishments of the research.

Do you think their propaganda is harmless? Here’s some comments from the site:

they should have to suffer just like those animals had to do for their unright (sic) and cruel experiments.

Someone should put steel rods in their heads

I say they experiment on them, how about that:)

So, I guess we need to be nice to non-human animals, but it’s open season on humans.

I’d venture a guess that most people feel we should be nice to animals. There are exceptions of course, but in general, people are against undue cruelty to animals. PETA argues than any harm to animals is “undue”.

The problem with this stance is that it devalues human lives. For example, a recent news item from Europe previews an ad campaign by PETA. They will run ads during the war crimes trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor.

I’m really not sure how to state this any more clearly—the slaughtering of human beings is not morally the same as the slaughtering of animals.

Those who believe that it is create a dangerous devaluation of human life.


  1. Laser Potato

    This entry is even worse.
    A poster named Simpleton actually brings REASON and LOGIC to the debate (shock! horror!) and is instantly beaten down by the mob.

  2. NoAstronomer

    Unright? (even Firefox flagged it)

  3. I added a “(sic)”

  4. Emilie

    I see where you’re coming from, but you have to admit that even though the PETA is pushing it too far by devaluating human life, they do have a point when it comes to saying that animal life is more valuable than we generally consider it to be. A really interesting (and very readable) philosophical take on this is Peter Singer’s “Animal Liberation”. He’s a prominent ethicist who has some fascinating views on this topic. Given what I’ve from your blog so far, I think that you would really enjoy it.

  5. DVMKurmes

    The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has started a new veterinary organization along with the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights “designed to rival the American Veterinary Medical Association”.

    These organizations have a definite animal rights orientation despite their attempts to distance themselves from PETA. It is a development that bears watching and that people should be aware of.

  6. E

    I’m not much of a utilitarian, and if I were, I don’t really see my “greatest number” including all living things.

    Is the elimination of smallpox “viral genocide”?

  7. Yeah, I’ve read a lot of Peter Singer and have yet to be convinced by most of his arguments. I say do a little more research on him and see where his reasoning leads. It’s, well… interesting to say the least.

  8. … the slaughtering of human beings is not morally the same as the slaughtering of animals.

    PETA disagrees, I think. And you repeating your conclusion (e.g. that animals have less worth than humans), multiple times, and in bold, isn’t actually making an argument.

    Neither are your attempts at constructing arguments.

    I find your posts to be usually pretty well written, but somehow whenever they discuss PETA they seem to degenerate into shouting, straw men, and unnecessary caricatures.

    I mean, really, look: PETA holds a fundamental core belief that animals should be treated
    ethically. At the very least, they bar for what they consider “undue” to be far from what you or most people do. So argue that they are wrong, then. It’s not hard. And of course their tactics are bizarre and perhaps counter productive to their own cause. So just say so, or explain why you think so, without going into all this frothing PETA is a “danger” stuff. It reminds me too much of the “atheists are a danger” we just heard from our lawmakers.

  9. btw – yer still dumb.

    thought you should know.

  10. I appreciate your comment Kevin, and perhaps my argument wasn’t “framed” well.

    I think my basic point is pretty simple…

    PETA morally equates the treatment (and mistreatment) of animals with that of people. That’s just wrong, and it’s wrong because it devalues human life. If you think it is just as bad to kill an animal as to kill a person, or, conversely, just as good to save an animal as to save a person, then you are walking down a dangerous path.

  11. malatesta

    except that it isn’t devaluing anything, but rather claiming that there are ethically valuable entities that we are currently not treating as we ought. and if they are right about the value of certain non-human animals, then they are right that our treatment of them is inexcusable. so what do you think of their arguments for the inclusion of some animals into the moral community? where does it go wrong?

  12. Isn’t one of the goals of the PETA founder (or head, or is she both – not sure at this moment and too lazy to research) was the elimination of all animals from human society, including house pets (how she would expect them to survive, I am not sure, but since PETA has killed thousands of animals taken from shelters because they said “no one would want them”, I think we can see how much they really care).

    A lot of people support PETA because they think it is an animal welfare group, when it isn’t. Given their (the leaders’) views towards many animals (especially they “ugly” ones), I am not even sure they really care about animals. I suspect that they tend more to hate humans, and animals are a cause that can get people around them. But that’s just my armchair psychology moment, so I can be completely, or even just partly, wrong.

  13. Alexandra

    I think a problem is in your apparent assumption that humans are somehow inherently more valuable than any other animal. Don’t get me wrong, they are more valuable to me, and in my opinion, but I don’t see how that necessarily translates into a universal. So when you say such a position devalues human life, you’re really saying that it demonstrates a value placed on human life below that which you or I would assign. I think it’s pretty clear that these PETA folk (PETArds?) don’t agree with our evaluation, which isn’t quite saying the same thing.

    Likewise when you say it’s dangerous to devalue human life, I think it’s clearer to say that people who place such a low value on human life and who are actively trying to have others share that evaluation and to act upon it are dangerous to the rest of us and to our society.

  14. The level of ignorance in that blog post and the comments makes me a little ill that I share a chunk of political spectrum with these people. You think that bad — go check out Portland Indymedia. There’s an entire section of that site devoted to ecoterrorism apologetics, even shunning those who come to their senses as snitches.

  15. Christophe Thill

    Is it “ethical” to kill thousands of abandoned pets and store their corpses in a giant walk-in freezer (when they don’t just dump them in a nearby dustbin), as PETA does ?

  16. Joseph O’Sullivan

    PETA tends to put on a public image of moderate activism, but they have a core belief that is by most peoples reasoning radical. A fundamental principal that underlies PETA is that humans = animals and animals should have the same rights as people.

    PETA clashes with environmental groups like NRDC, Environmental Defense and Sierra Club. PETA says they aren’t environmentalists because they don’t push vegan diets and don’t oppose all medical research using animals. PETA takes the position that animal rights = environmental protection.

    Gristmill this past fall had a few posts about PETA’s positions and PETA’s campaigns against environmentalists. The comment section was like a barroom brawl between environmentalists and animal-rights activists.

  17. Grant Canyon

    What’s so great about humans? Some humans are worthless piles of crap. Anyone who would choose to save the life of, say, Osama bin Laden over that of a bunny is an idiot.

  18. Scott M.

    PalMD, PETA is not an issue I follow so you may be right about all of this BUT I would like to point out all those “animals” have been evolving as long as we have and that we are also animals.

    Your use of the expressions “the slaughtering of human beings is not morally the same as the slaughtering of animals. Those who believe that it is create a dangerous devaluation of human life” implies we are somehow objectively better than other animals.

    I think we have a responsibility to think about these issues and make good decisions where we have control of lives whether they be human or animal.

    Keep up the good work. Best wishes,


  19. Anonymous

    The problem with PETA’s “animals = humans” is they don’t follow it through.

    Animals kill other animals and are incredibly cruel, in order to survive.

    We are a lot less cruel, and do our best to survive while doing as little harm as possible.

    PETA and other of its ilk spend time trying to force animals to eat live a Vegan lifestyle. They would have their pet cats and dogs give up meat completely. Even though that is 1000% against the animals nature.

    Humans are part of the natural order, and that means things get hurt, the sooner they understand that, the sooner they can start dealing with actual important issues. Instead of degrading humans and being doubly cruel to animals.

  20. Evinfuilt

    “implies we are somehow objectively better than other animals.”

    You actually have it completely backwards. By trying to make us perfect, you take us further away from natural order. Do you wish to go out and turn all Lions into Vegetarians because they eat Wildebeast?

    Pushing equality between animals and humans is the most unnatural process. We have moved up from Scavangers to the top of the food chain, we have mastered control of the lands for good and ill.

    You wish to now build a Utopian world where we do no harm to any animals. That is the most unnatural and absurd thought of all.

    Can’t you see that this is a new development, completely against millions of years of life on this planet.

  21. What’s so great about humans? Some humans are worthless piles of crap. Anyone who would choose to save the life of, say, Osama bin Laden over that of a bunny is an idiot.

    If anyone ever catches that asshole alive, he should get a trial just like anyone else. And I’ll be eating a good juicy steak while I watch it on TV, sitting in my leather chair.

  22. Dianne

    implies we are somehow objectively better than other animals

    We are. We are objectively better at problem solving, tool use, and consious thought than any other animal, living or extinct. Of course, this does not necessarily imply that we are more important or worthy to live than other animals, but let’s not lose touch with reality altogether: humans are an unusual species.

    Personally, I tend to draw a line between animals with self-awareness and those without. So I consider that humans, chimpanzees, elephants, and dolphins, all of which can pass the “rouge test”, are more important morally than other animals because they are self-aware and therefore suffer more when harmed. Other animals, well, they’re stimulus-response machines. What’s so special about that?

  23. Dianne

    If anyone ever catches that asshole alive, he should get a trial just like anyone else.

    Wandering off topic, but what would you do or want to do if he were tried and acquitted? A trial, to be anything other than an episode in sadism, must include the possibility of acquital.

  24. Kagehi

    Actually, I think the people posting that PETA thinks human = animal have it dead wrong. They have, on more than a few occasions, stated flat out that they think the best thing for all those other poor animals is if “humans” went extinct. These are the animal rights equivalent of Luddites. People so convinced that all the bad things in the world start and end with humans that they would just as soon see us all dead, if they can’t force us to all eat trees and teach house pets to do the same thing. I have no sympathy what so ever for their “cause”. There are hundreds of other **sane** organizations working for *real* ethical treatment of animals, who I do sympathize with. I am not going to waste my energy helping, sympathizing with or claiming *any* common cause with either insane lunatics, or the kind of gullible morons that think its OK to support their “good” ideas, while ignoring the bat shit insane ones. I might as well be one of the other idiots that where caught sending money to terrorist front organizations, which used “some” of the funds to do charity and good works in the ME, as both a) a means to get idiots to send them money without knowing what most of it was used for, and b) making the locals cheer for their “higher ideals” when they drove a small army through the town on the way to blow innocent people up.

    Snort.. I am reminded of the episode of The Boondocks, in which Art Kelley is on trial for “peeing” on a 14 year old girl and gets both acquitted and then cheered, because he is a huge Rap star, and *that* somehow was more important than the fact that they had the girl in a chair, his pee spraying over her, his face looking into the camera when checking if it was on and working, **as well as** his social security number, his stating his full name and an admission of what he was doing, given to the guy he was talking to on the phone while this was happening, *all* on video tape, which they showed in the court. To quote the character Riley, “What happened to having some standards people!”

  25. Emilie

    Is the elimination of smallpox “viral genocide”?
    No, of course not. But the point of Singer’s argument is that as rational beings, we should avoid causing pain to animals which can also feel pain (viruses/plants/bacteria are obviously not part of that category), because pain is bad, no matter who/what is feeling it. The life of a human being is always going to be worth more than the life of an animal because we are rational, but we should still respect the fact that the pain which we cause animals is as bad for them as it would be for us. As rational beings who don’t need to eat meat or wear leather to survive, the least we can do is avoid doing those things out of respect for the pain that it would cause the animals.
    But I guess that if you’re fundamentally opposed to utilitarianism, you won’t really find this argument compelling.

    Honestly, I’m as much a hater of the PETA as you are. I disagree with a lot of what they say and do. I do believe, however, that they (and Singer) have a point when it comes to they way that we treat animals. I still eat meat occasionally, but I try to make sure that it’s as cruelty-free as possible. And as a science student, I’m not about to oppose necessary research on animals. But I still think that the point is valid. We as humans are just too used to thinking of ourselves as being on a different plane from animals. This perspective, interestingly, seems to be reflected quite strongly in many religions… You’d think that scientists would be more enclined to understand their point of view.

    April: Yes, I’ve read some of Singer’s other works, specifically the ones poverty and bestiality. You’re right, some of his conclusions are thought-prokoking, to say the least.

  26. Emilie

    Gah, let me rewrite that last part:

    April: Yes, I’ve read some of Singer’s other works, specifically the ones on poverty and bestiality. You’re right, some of his conclusions are thought-provoking, to say the least.

  27. Jim Jones

    The problem with PETA is that they think their way of thinking is correct and anyone who doesn’t completely agree with them is wrong.
    It actually reminds me of a certain blog i know of. (an aptly named blog, i might add)

  28. The fact that I am always correct is just good luck. I don’t try, it just sort of happens. : )

  29. We are all Earthlings.

  30. How about a totally blank slate on animal rights, followed by a species by species taste-test? We could collectively agree only to kill the most delicious animals, and spare the rest. Yumminess-based ethics, if you will.

  31. We are all Earthlings.

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