PETA’s “Worst Dressed List” – About as progressive as Rush Limbaugh’s big toe

Every year, PETA, the darling of clueless celebrities everywhere (dear actors & pop stars of the known universe, don’t just check with your publicist if the PETA people are “nice,” or whatever, do research), puts us through the hypocritical indignities of their sanctimonious “Worst Dressed List.”

Of course, PETA is that classy organization that once compared Holocaust victims to chickens, so what the hell can you expect?

Still, the language of the “Worst Dressed List” continues to astound me. Last year, PETA was gleefully making fun of Nicole Ritchie’s suspected eating disorder, and guffawing about Christina Ricci’s big forehead (my forehead is big too, and I will personally eat a big juicy steak in honour of PETA’s third-grade lunchroom tactics).

Now they’ve compared Eva Longoria to a “streetwalker” and made fun of Aretha Franklin’s weight. Because, you see, to encourage people to think progressively you must first attack them in a fashion that would make Rush Limbaugh proud.

Ever notice how PETA reserve most of their venom for women? I don’t usually hear about PETA activists insulting, say, a biker gang in public. Why? Because old ladies in fur coats make for easier targets, of course. And hey, sexist language, fat-shaming, and other such insults will surely inspire people to be kinder and more thoughtful.

This is all beside PETA’s tragic hipness, of course. That holier-than-thou, fundamentalist cause célèbre packaged as enlightenment.

Note, I am not picking on individual members. I just hate the overall sentiment.

Like many people, I have serious problems with the fur and leather industry and the food industry. Having said that, I am not vegetarian, and I don’t have any immediate plans to become one. I don’t believe that humane pet ownership translates into pet slavery either. I think a balance can be struck between higher industry standards and evolving lifestyle choices.

I think good synthetic meat, fur, and leather are the way to go for the future. I put faith in science. I can only hope science will be sufficiently touched by such a statement, and makes my dreams come true. Have at it, science.

But that’s just me.

Bottom line? PETA, you suck.

35 thoughts on “PETA’s “Worst Dressed List” – About as progressive as Rush Limbaugh’s big toe

  1. “I will personally eat a big juicy steak in honour of PETA’s third-grade lunchroom tactics”

    Funny line, great rant. When it comes to my juicy steaks though, I think I’ll keep my faith in nature rather the science. Nature’s had a lot more practice.

  2. Oh, yeah. Right.

    This would be the same PETA that puts out those Pam Anderson ads, right??

    But, they reserve the right to judge Aretha as too fat, or Nicole as too thin??? (What’s next, ragging on Kristie Alley for her weight???)

    This seafood poboy is for you, PETA…as Natalia put so succintly, you SUCK.

    Anthony
    (Only backing away from the hamburger due to Lent)

  3. I got pissed last year when I heard about PETA’s “Running of the Nudes,” a fallaciously progressive response to Pamplona’s running of the bulls. A cursory look at this campaign was enough to make me ill. I feel I’m not alone, even though I consider myself perhaps too prudish at times. PETA is often guilty of peddling the female form “for the sake of animals.” When I wrote a complaint about this, I received a form letter email detailing the progressive stance of PETA activists and their “celebration” of the nude female. In other words: “Get over it, square.” Too bad all of the “nudes” featured on their website look nothing like the average female of any country. And WAY too bad they are turning off potential supporters of their animal rights campaigns who also happen to be a certain variety of feminist. A hearty agreement with the statement that they suck.

  4. Hummph! There are more important things to think about and if one so chooses to do so, worry about!

    PS: Does our Western culture have too much time on it’s hands?

    Ms. Antonova, you can write and write well (at least I think so) so write your wonderful stories PLEASE and don’t sweat what the morons in Hollywood are doing! (Reality and food for thought aren’t their specialties!)

  5. I wouldn’t worry about apologizing to individual PETA members – if enough of them actually gave a crap, PETA would have stopped using so many naked-women-as-animal campaigns years ago, and by “so many” I mean, “it’s their only damn trick, and if it wasn’t so offensive it’d just be boring by now.” PETAs been doing this crap for so long that I can’t imagine there are too many members who are actually bothered by it left.

    And don’t worry about Pat, either, who seems to have missed your point, your wonderful writing not withstanding.

  6. I guess I don’t mind the nudity as much as the sentiment behind it. It just creeps me out, all of it. I mean, PETA uses naked men too, and as much as I, as a heterosexual woman, am supposed to find that sexxay… I just find it disturbing, considering what they stand for.

    I once witnessed an exchange between a rabid PETA supporter and a woman of colour who was incensed that the PETA supporter was comparing eating chicken to lynchings. That REALLY pissed me off on top of everything else, because the PETA supporter’s line was basically,

    “You’re just not progressive or enlightened or decent enough. We’re not trivializing anything, you barbarian. ”

    Please. You are and you know it.

  7. I think ultimately the biggest problem with PETA is lack of substance. A thoughtful, informed discussion about the role of living creatures as commodities is long overdue and (sorry, some melodrama) I think that its absence in our society is a stain on our soul. That being said, comparing factory farming to the Holocaust and having some jerk-off in a popular band do ads for you is not any kind of solution. And yeah, the condescending vibe doesn’t help. Even as someone who abhors factory farming, I’m sorry, the last thing the world needs is a vegan version of Joan Rivers (well, or the real version, but you get my point).

    When PETA sexualizes men, it does it differently than it does with women. It’s like comics; yes Superman wears spandex and has a chiseled physique but he’s not always thrusting ridiculously exaggerated secondary sexual characteristics at the viewer or being shown menaced with sexual overtones or…..You get the idea.

    All else forgotten, Godwin’s law is just a good thing to keep in mind, rhetorically.

  8. It’s like comics; yes Superman wears spandex and has a chiseled physique but he’s not always thrusting ridiculously exaggerated secondary sexual characteristics at the viewer or being shown menaced with sexual overtones or…..You get the idea.

    Indeed I do.

  9. “Like many people, I have serious problems with the fur and leather industry and the food industry. Having said that, I am not vegetarian, and I don’t have any immediate plans to become one.”

    Right. So as oppose to actually doing something about the moral outrage that is an industry of murdering and torturing of living beings you are outraged about the people who actually are trying to do something about it and you are siding with the most obvious victims, poor spoiled Hollywood brats who have no concern for anything or anyone but themselves. Is this the new progressive stance?

    “I will personally eat a big juicy steak in honour of PETA’s third-grade lunchroom tactics”

    And now you sound like Rush…

    I am not a member of PETA but agree with their aims and principles. Their tactics boil down to simple marketing of ideas. They ridicule celebrities and their choices because it results in a more widespread publicity and because celebrities are often viewed as the figures who set the trends in the culture. If celebrities make deeply immoral choices they deserve, at the very least, to be ridiculed for it.

    At the same time I don’t agree with the personal attacks that you describe. Eating disorders and foreheads should not be a part of their discourse in the given context.

    Why they attack women wearing fur and not bikers? I can’t presume to know what they think but I would guess that while some people, like yourself, can actually find some sort of justification for eating meat (and most of the leather is the side product of the meat production), wearing of fur has no justification whatever. Wearing fur is a meaningless fashion statement that results in untold suffering by millions of living creatures and must be abolished by humans.

    If you feel that their tactics are outrageous ask yourself this simple question: how would you feel about the same tactics if their campaign was to prevent a daily meaningless slaughter and torture of human beings? Would you say they are not going far enough?

    Finally, you wrote “PETA is that classy organization that once compared Holocaust victims to chickens, so what the hell can you expect?”

    For once I would expect someone’s statements to be factually true. To the best of my knowledge PETA never compared Holocaust victims to chickens. They compared extermination of billions of birds to extermination of human beings during Holocaust. You obviously have a problem with this comparison. Why? Is killing birds okay because they are not humans? Is this the basic line of argument?

    Specieism is just as attractive as racism…

  10. “If you feel that their tactics are outrageous ask yourself this simple question: how would you feel about the same tactics if their campaign was to prevent a daily meaningless slaughter and torture of human beings? Would you say they are not going far enough?”

    Yeah… and think of all the trillions of insects we humyns massacre in our deadly daily ritualistic capitalist movements, should we not weep for them as well? I do. Every morning there are tears on my pillow because are they not our eight and six legged brothers and sisters? Do they not also share the same right to exist as your children, as your babies? How would you like it if some eighty-foot tall Acanthomyops interjectus shoved it’s mandibles straight into your children while you watched and ate it whole? Imagine what it would feel like if hoards of Centruroides vittatus ate all the surviving holocaust victims… yeah, just freaking imagine that for a minute. Is that okay? Are you still hungry? Are you still laughing now you right wing fascist insect hater? Are you still laughing even though your babies are scorpion food? You should be weeping… you know, cause it would suck really bad.

    Remember… four legs good, two legs bad, eight legs superbeings.

  11. Wearing fur is a meaningless fashion statement that results in untold suffering by millions of living creatures and must be abolished by humans.

    There are loads of cultures that do not view fur this way at all. Not that I strongly agree or disagree either way. Or think the fur industry is anything to cheer about. But I also wear borrowed fur on cold nights in Ukraine all the time, when I’m in town, that is.

    Still, the only reason why PETA goes after little old ladies in fur coats is because they know they’d get their asses kicked if they took on bikers.

    As for the rest of your statements, no, just no. PETA sucks. The Holocaust statement? Sucks especially. “Specieism”? I don’t buy it.

    As I pointed out to a fellow friend recently, I’d never eat steak at her, because she is a vegetarian and I have seriously considered vegetarianism in the past.

    But I do eat steak at PETA. And if I ever do become a vegetarian, I will eat steak at them in my mind. HA.

  12. SH, I have a question. Since you claim that it is deeply immoral for human beings to eat meat because that requires the murder of a sentient being, you’re granting a right (safety of the person) that was formerly limited to human beings; you’re applying human morality to other animals. But human morality is a two-way street in that it involves both rights and obligations, i.e., it’s a contract restricting our behavior toward each other. But if animals enjoy the formerly human right not to be murdered, aren’t animals also bound by the human obligation not to murder? If so, then shouldn’t such carnivorous animals as can be trained, be trained not to eat meat? If not, i.e., if animals enjoy human rights but are not bound by human obligations, then isn’t that exemption itself a form of specieism?

    Here’s my point: Human morality is a contract designed to achieve certain practical ends, specifically better practical outcomes for human beings in the long term. The religious or emotional window-dressing is added to psychologically induce human beings to sacrifice short-term gain in exchange for better long-term practical outcomes. The only convincing argument for giving animals the right not to be murdered (which is a human right) is that such sanctity of the lives of animals results in better long-term practical outcomes for human beings. I can’t think of any practical long-term benefit to human beings that results from granting animals the right not to be murdered. If PETA has a list of such benefits to humans, I’d be interested in seeing it.

  13. “For once I would expect someone’s statements to be factually true. To the best of my knowledge PETA never compared Holocaust victims to chickens. They compared extermination of billions of birds to extermination of human beings during Holocaust. You obviously have a problem with this comparison. Why? Is killing birds okay because they are not humans? Is this the basic line of argument?”

    The difference is that we kill birds to fulfill a very basic biological need: food. It’s pretty hard, unless you’re relatively wealthy, to get the nutrients you need without ever eating meat. I think factory farming is inhumane, which is why I don’t eat birds that have been factory farmed; however, you can’t compare the food chain to ethnic cleansing.

    As for why PETA doesn’t go after biker gangs, Natalia is right – it’s not because fur is awful but leather is okay (how can you argue that killing animals is like the Holocaust, but that leather is acceptable because it’s a byproduct of that very process? That makes no sense); it’s because old women are easier to pick on.

  14. “It’s pretty hard, unless you’re relatively wealthy, to get the nutrients you need without ever eating meat.”

    I agree with the rest of what you’re saying, but this simply isn’t true. When I was younger I was poor, but also vegan and in better health than most people I knew. If anything, I was spending LESS money on food then a lot of my friends, who would drop $7 and change on a fast food combo. I think “only rich people can abstain from meat” is a cop out that tries to redraw the issue along phony class lines. I don’t care what you do or don’t do, understand, but I do object to vegetarianism being framed as some bourgeois thing the common man just can’t swing.

  15. For me, the jury is still out on whether or not it’s cheaper to be vegan/vegetarian, or vice versa. Meat is pretty damn expensive. But on the other hand, a lot of people just don’t have the tools to eat a more balanced diet without it, or so it has been in my (anecdotal) experience with friends.

  16. Natalia,

    “There are loads of cultures that do not view fur this way at all. Not that I strongly agree or disagree either way. Or think the fur industry is anything to cheer about. But I also wear borrowed fur on cold nights in Ukraine all the time, when I’m in town, that is.”

    I am Russian and grew up north of where you were, so I know all about cold winter nights. Wearing fur in extreme cold conditions might have been a valid argument some time ago, but I don’t think in this day and age it can be justified. It is, as you have pointed out, just a cultural, traditional behavior. Some cultures view cannibalism as an acceptable custom. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with them.

    “Still, the only reason why PETA goes after little old ladies in fur coats is because they know they’d get their asses kicked if they took on bikers.”

    Why? Because you said so?

    “As for the rest of your statements, no, just no.”

    I guess not much one can say to this. But I understand that you are not interested in this conversation.

    As for Holocaust, I will just end this comment with a quote by Theodor Adorno:

    “Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: ‘they’re only animals’.”

  17. James,

    Morality, as it is understood by most people, doesn’t have anything to do with contracts. Most of the people would find it reprehensible and immortal to kill a mentally disabled person who cannot comprehend a single word you say or to torture a kitten. Not only these moral choices do not involve contracts or put any kind of demands on the other beings but such “two-way street” contract would be physically impossible. In fact, even our legal system specifically excludes people who are not capable of distinguishing right from wrong from responsibility for their actions. So, to answer your question. No, determination of morality of one’s action towards another being doesn’t have to have anything to do with placing any restrictions or expectations on behavior of that other being. If the exception is made it is not made on the basis of one’s membership to a species but on the basis of capability of being a moral agent.

    I also don’t agree that morality is necessarily based (or has to be based) on achieving practical ends. If practicality of one’s actions was the only measure of morality then it would be moral to exterminate groups of people that you deem to be unnecessary or impractical to keep around. For example, why keep mentally retarded people alive if they are only a burden to us…

    But if you do look for some kind of long term benefit, then maybe we should be looking forward to a world where unjustified violence towards sentient beings is not tolerated by moral agents. This seems like a worthy long term goal to me.

  18. girldetective,

    “The difference is that we kill birds to fulfill a very basic biological need: food.”

    Millions of people satisfy their biological need for food for thousands of years without killing animals.

    As for whether it’s cheaper, easier or more convenient to eat meat-based diets. It’s largely beside the point here. It might be cheaper and easier to live a life where you cheat, lie and steal, but most of us would argue that it’s not a good reason to do any of those things.

    The question is whether contributing to torture and murder of animals is justified and moral. If it is moral then there is no problem and one can go on living happily ever after. If one finds that it is immoral then she will have to figure out how to right this wrong. How much does it worth to you to do the right thing? That’s a personal question everyone will have to answer once they figured out what’s wrong and what’s right.

  19. “Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: ‘they’re only animals’.”

    Yeah, damn right… and whomever jams a can of Raid(TM) Ant Killer Foam Extreme down an anthill, thou art Hitler… or at least you’re probably driving the trains. Or maybe the people at Raid(TM) are Hitler and you’re Reichsführer-SS Himmler using Raid to kill our Brother and Sisters on contact and keep on killing them with residual action for up to four weeks. You bastards.

  20. “I think “only rich people can abstain from meat” is a cop out that tries to redraw the issue along phony class lines. I don’t care what you do or don’t do, understand, but I do object to vegetarianism being framed as some bourgeois thing the common man just can’t swing.”

    I’m mainly going off of what others have said on the subject. One writer who comes to mind is Barbara Ehrenreich, who has written on the eating habits of workers living in motels, without access to kitchens or refrigerators; they live mainly on fast food not because it’s cheaper than vegetables, but because they have no way to cook their own meals, and thus have to eat meat in order to have a hot, filling meal. Fortunately, vegetarian options seem to be expanding.

    So I concede that it’s not as cut-and-dry as “only the wealthy can be vegetarian;” however, I don’t think the class lines in question are phony.

  21. SH:

    I appreciate your responding to my comment. My first comment was rather hastily written, as is this one, and I want first to clarify some of the language I used in my first comment.

    First, when in my first comment I called human morality a “contract” between human beings, I meant that human morality is a deliberate, conscious agreement between human beings to enforce and promote those human behaviors that are most likely to satisfy specifically human needs and preferences, rather than the needs and preferences of all sentient beings. Human beings’ perceptions and/or consensus about exactly which human needs and preferences should be satisfied by enforcing moral rules can change over time, and thus moral rules themselves can change over time. But human morality itself remains a conscious, deliberate agreement between human beings, made in order to meet specifically human needs and preferences, and not the needs of any non-human sentient beings. Moreover, human morality is not something ‘discovered’ like the laws of mathematics or the laws of physics, and it is not a way of articulating perception. Human morality is a conscious agreement between human beings that can change over time. I realize from your second comment that you might not disagree with this, but from your initial comment dated March 9 at 12:14 a.m. on this blog, I inferred that you might be suggesting that it is somehow logically inconsistent if non-human animals are not included as the beneficiaries of human morality. That’s why I used the word “contract.”

    Now, human needs and preferences include not only material (food, shelter) and social (safety) needs and preferences, but also emotional and psychological needs and preferences. The psychological need/preference that’s relevant to the discussion of PETA is the need/preference to accommodate the human capacity for empathy. By “empathy” I mean our human tendency to project our own autonomy either onto a human being who, in our eyes, might not be fully autonomous (like the mentally disabled), or onto a non-human animal. We “empathize” to the degree that we recognize ourselves in someone or something that is measurably less autonomous than ourselves. In fact, we empathize with other people/animals only to the degree that we recognize our own autonomy; that’s the only “full autonomy” that we can project.

    It is completely normal that people who have had their own autonomy affirmed, either in childhood or later, will eventually project their own autonomy onto people/animals who are in fact less autonomous, and such “fully autonomous” people will quite naturally prefer that their own capacity for empathy/projection be accommodated by rules originally meant to apply to humans who are in fact fully autonomous.

    But historically most societies have had very limited powers of enforcement of any moral rules, and thus the enforcement of rules that have been agreed upon to meet specifically human material and social needs has the first claim on society’s power of enforcement. In fact, in the U.S. state of Georgia where I live, even existing laws against cruelty to animals are legislatively justified on the ground that deterring cruelty to animals is a means of preventing potential cruelty to humans, since psychologists have shown that someone who abuses animals is likely to abuse humans, animals being a less-powerful surrogate for humans, and thus deterring cruelty to animals is expected to promote a society that is safer for humans.

    But accommodation of the human capacity for empathy historically has had last claim on society’s power of enforcement, and the rules meant to accommodate empathy are invariably conditioned on the need first to guarantee specifically human material and social needs.

    The above argument is not meant in any way to devalue the human capacity for empathy or to reduce the force of the argument that truly civilized (mature) societies will do everything in their power to accommodate the human capacity for empathy. In fact, in an individual human being, his degree of awareness of his own autonomy (self-awareness) and the degree of his ability to project his own autonomy onto people/animals who are in fact less autonomous, is the degree of his being a mature, grown-up human being. To my mind, that is what morally growing up is all about. And a morality that requires all fully-autonomous humans to behave like moral grown-ups is the only morality that is fully civilized. But applying those rules of morality to non-human sentient beings is still a matter of choice, and moral people can, under different circumstances, disagree on how that morality should be applied.

    Sorry for this long post, and I apologize for any unclarity in my language. Again, I appreciate your response to my first post.

  22. Correction to my post dated March 10 at 4:03 a.m., seventh paragraph, middle of the paragraph: The phrase,

    “… is the degree OF HIS BEING a mature … human being,”

    should read instead:

    “… is the degree TO WHICH HE IS a mature,” etc.

    I hope that makes it clearer. I wish we could edit these comments.

    Note to other readers of this thread: Regardless of how one feels about PETA, the arguments advanced by SH are not flippant or ill-thought-out and nor are they a cultural fad. As I understand SH’s argument, he is saying that society is morally required to enforce/promote empathy to the point of discouraging the eating of meat. I don’t agree. But it is a fact that the degree to which a society enforces/promotes empathy is the degree to which it is civilized, and SH’s implicit point on that issue is unarguable.

    Note to the blog-owner: In the future, I’ll keep my comments to a minimum length. I appreciate being allowed to post on this blog and I will make an effort not to over-use the blog.

  23. Girldetective
    Well, yes, in cases of people living in hotels, sometimes a vegetarian diet may not be tenable. That’s a fairly small minority though. If you have a stove and can cook at all, I would say vegetarian or semi-vegetarian is plenty cheap. Even eating out, while the fast food veg options are limited (but still there and still cheap). If you’re buying seitan hoagies and bags of vegan chocolate chips and such, yeah, that’s bit pricey but I’m not sure buying bags of chocolate chips is a good idea. And beyond all that, most poor people I know (and I live and work among them and am not exactly a Kennedy myself) are far from underfed anyway. Shit, in most of the world, the rich people are the ones eating meat and most people are semi-veg because there’s just no way around it.

    I guess why I’m pushing here is because it seem like a common tactic to discredit a progressive idea as somehow being “for the rich”. It kinda bugs me because I grew up in a trailer in rural Arizona, and I still don’t use it myself. It also bugs me when some writers I like (Umar Lee and Justin Valdez come to mind) who are smart guys, try to equate vegetarianism (or other causes) with this strawman apple-laptop toting, NPR listening, latte sipping yuppie hipster from Soho. Michael Moore did the same. Everything has to come back to this idea that its suitable for blue collar America, or its worthless? I think that’s a huge part of how Republicans win elections, tell working class people they have nothing in common with that they’ll deal with these snooty liberal intellectuals. And hell, even if that guy exists and is an obnoxious proselytizing vegan to boot, it doesn’t change that a can of black beans is still cheaper than a pork chop most nights.

    Sorry if I’m reading too much into your statements. It’s just kind of a sore point with me because I have friends who ask me how I can afford to be vegetarian (or drink quality beer instead of bud, but that’s a different story) as if it were some mammoth undertaking. If people don’t want to leave off meat, eh, whatever, but saying it’s because they can’t afford to is going to be nonsense 9 times in 10. I think it coaches the conversation in dishonest terms.

  24. “I guess why I’m pushing here is because it seem like a common tactic to discredit a progressive idea as somehow being “for the rich”.”

    Sorry that I gave that impression – I get annoyed with the whole limousine liberal stereotype, too.

  25. Wearing fur in extreme cold conditions might have been a valid argument some time ago, but I don’t think in this day and age it can be justified. It is, as you have pointed out, just a cultural, traditional behavior.

    I also hate North Face.

    Why? Because you said so?

    Because it is damn obvious.

    guess not much one can say to this. But I understand that you are not interested in this conversation.

    I don’t buy specieism.

    “Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: ‘they’re only animals’.”

    Total condescending BS on his part, I’m afraid.

    Keeping up with what Gabriel’s saying, what about killing a cockroach with a slipper? I mean, I’d really like to know how much of a Nazi that makes me.

  26. . If you have a stove and can cook at all, I would say vegetarian or semi-vegetarian is plenty cheap.

    Oh man, this reminded me of the fact that I can’t cook worth a damn. Even though that was one of my resolutions… for 2007.

    Pathetic.

  27. James,

    When I talk about morality or immorality of a given action I mean it in the context of a choice by an individual. A personal choice of how we should treat others, in my opinion, can be independent from what the society at large accepts, agrees upon, codifies in its laws, and much less, enforces. Beside that, if we pretend for a moment that we live in a democracy of some kind, we can expect that what this society will accept as its collective norm will be the result of expression of multitude of personal choices. But this is neither here nor there, for if one considers herself to be an independent thinker, she must be prepared, or perhaps even expect, to find her opinion about right and wrong to stand in opposition to accepted views if evidence and reason demand so.

    At the end of the day, regardless of where and how one derives his ethical standards from, when it comes to the issues we discuss here, one has to answer the following question: Do I or do I not give an equal consideration to the interests of another when I am about to make a decision that affects that being? If you are giving equal consideration to groups of humans whose mental capacity is similar to or lower than that of an adult non-human animal (babies, senile people, mental patients and so on), but you are unwilling to extend the same consideration to the non-human animals, you have to justify this discrimination. On what basis do you make the distinction? How do you draw the line between animals whose suffering, desire to live and freedom you are willing to take into account and those whose interests you are willing to disregard?

    It seems that majority of the people still draw the line at the boundary of human species. For them, the non-human animals do not deserve an equal consideration of their interests. This is despite the fact that animals are, undoubtedly, our equals when it comes to the same basic reasons we afford each other unalienable right to a life free from needless suffering: our capacity to feel pain, desire to live and so on. The distinction that is being made, therefore, is not based on the characteristics of the beings that you would expect to be relevant to the ethical questions (like the capacity to suffer), but solely on that being’s external properties (such as having fur). How is it then fundamentally different from discrimination of others based solely on the color of their skin or their gender?

    We now recognize that the divisions along the lines of race and color are arbitrary and irrelevant to the ethical questions. But the divisions along the lines of species are just as arbitrary and just as meaningless when it comes to our need to consider the interests of others. Darwin wrote, “I look at the term species as one arbitrarily given for the sake of convenience to a set of individuals closely resembling each other.” Is this the sort of line we want to use to guide our ethical choices when it comes to someone’s life or death?

    The parallel between the Nazi treatment of communists, socialists, gays, Jews and many other groups of people and our treatment of animals is that they have drawn the line in the sand that excluded larger groups of beings out of their circle of those whose interests were worthy of being considered. The reason it was possible for many Germans to go along with and support the extermination of millions of living beings is fundamentally the same as the reason many of us don’t think much about torture and murder of untold numbers of sentient creatures – to them, their victims were not humans, but animals, whose suffering did not matter…

  28. I can tell there are no buddhists here. For the person who keeps making the insect jokes, from the buddhist perspective (granted, not EVERY buddhist perspective but also many native religions and hindu ones-its primarily the ‘big religions’ that think human beings are completely separate from other species) then it depends on the motivations behind that killing.

    Killing ANYTHING indiscriminantly says more about you than anything else. Many ‘new age’ religions, and the oldest religions deify life to an extreme extent. From what we know of the universe we know squat about ‘god’, but we know about ‘life’ and how ‘miraculous’ it is. Even life that seems ‘creepy’-its that ‘creepy’ view that I would suggest makes more people into animals.

    THAT is what morality is all about, and it is no different for animals than for people. I’m an optimist so I like to think that someday all life will be given the respect it deserves. That doesn’t mean that all killing must be stopped, we don’t live in ‘heaven’. But it does mean that life is rare in the universe and anyplace it exists should have its existence protected to every possible available extreme. My ancestors were native, and not only was ‘life’ sacred (though that doesn’t mean they didn’t live in the ‘real’ world-they in fact weren’t vegetarians) but ‘space’ was also sacred-so just imagine what they’d think of our ‘morality’.

    As for PETA, like any public organization it marches to the beat of those who pony up the dough. However, I’ve seen them ‘go after’ just about every group out there, but they have to be tactical, its a big issue. They won’t always use the tactics that everyone agrees with, sadly, the best way to at least attempt to change that is either by joining them, or starting a competing organization. If you don’t agree with their aims then its highly doubtful that ANY tactics they use wouldn’t find criticism. The more that other species are included in our ‘morality’ the more truly human we will become.

    As for morality, like most morality it comes down to the individual. Every time you eat or wear another animal then simply THINK about what you are doing-and then justify it. IF you can justify it, then that’s as much as you can do. If you put a bullet in a cow so you can have a steak and do it to ‘stick it to PETA’ then that says as much about your morality as anything else. No, a cow is not a person, but if you’ve known any cows then you know exactly what they are. And the fact that a person ‘can’t be bothered’ to change their lifestyle a bit to accomodate that life, again, says as much about them as we need to know.

    By the way, a vegan diet has been found to be the most healthy diet there is. And thats WITHOUT taking into account the health hazards, antibiotics, hormones,etc., etc., that are now commonly found in meat. The biggest problem in some people is that the iron in plants and legumes isn’t as readily absorbed as that available from animals. That can be countered by a tailor made diet. Eating meat nowadays is a HUGE gamble that I wouldn’t suggest anybody take, in fact if the meat, fish, and bird meat found it grocery stores didn’t come from living creatures I’d STILL tell people not to eat it because of what it contains-haven’t you ever heard of bio-accumulation?

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