I recently attended a fund raiser and ‘’pep rally’’ for what I consider is one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented organizations in the country. The name of the group is PETA, which stands for, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Their name sounds pretty benign to me. With such a laudable goal, why do you think that the mere utterance of the name PETA evokes such strong emotions among so many people?
My sense is that most people are really quite ignorant regarding the issues that PETA are attempting to address. PETA primarily focuses its energy in four areas that involve the greatest exploitation of animals. They are, factory farms, laboratories, clothing industries and the entertainment world.
Ingrid Newkirk, co founder of the organization, and a number of the PETA staff spoke at the event. Without exception, their presentations were compelling and compassionate. In the many years that I have been a supporter of PETA, every staff member that I have interacted with has been warm, caring and dedicated. They are the people that you would be proud of, if they were your friends, family or children.
Well, what about the Neiman Marcus blood throwing fur protests or other similar radical activities that we often see on CNN or Fox news? With a worldwide budget of only 45 million dollars, PETA must be very opportunistic when it comes to getting its message across. Obviously, its approach has proven to be quite effective, since this is what they are most known for by the general public.
Even other animal rights advocates sometimes quibble about some of their more flamboyant actions, but most will agree that on total, they are an extremely powerful force and effective voice for all animals. Representing the bad cop in the animal welfare world often allows the more moderate good cop such as HSUS,to come in and negotiate a deal that is advantageous for the animals. My experience is that most people in the exploitive animal world would prefer not having PETA as an adversary.