PeTA prides itself on working hard towards a cruelty free world. All you need to do to verify this for yourself is to root around the PeTA website.
So it seems deeply and darkly ironic - not to mention hypocritical - that PeTA would seize upon the tragic murders in Canada of some 15 girls, who authorities believe were first killed by one Robert Pickton, a pig farmer who may then have given meat products to friends and associates that contained human remains. You can imagine the anguish of the families and friends of the victims who saw PeTA's outdoor ad, which featured a picture of a young lady side by side with a picture of a pig, and the caption: "Neither of us is meat." The response from families of missing girls was predictable:
A new anti-meat campaign that exploits the horrific killing of women in British Columbia is a disgusting travesty that demeans the victims and exploits women, critics say.
The outdoor ad, sponsored by the militant animal-rights group PETA, shows a stock head shot of a pretty young woman on one side and a "smiling" pig on the other, along with the slogan Neither Of Us Is Meat.
That's a reference to the case of Robert Pickton, the Port Coquitlam, B.C., pig farmer who is charged in the deaths of 15 women. Pickton is expected to go to trial late this year or early in 2005.
British Columbia's medical officer of health recently said meat products from Pickton's farm that were given to friends and associates may have contained human remains.
"This is terrible," Rick Frey, whose 24-year-old daughter Marnie's remains were found on the Pickton farm, said after seeing a copy of the billboard.
"I don't think we need to be reminded what the hell went on there," Frey said from Campbell River, B.C.
"When I heard about it before, in the early stages, I had nightmares. This won't help at all."
The billboards went up in Toronto and Edmonton this week, while PETA said it had a signed contract to have 1,000 flyposters plastered all over the downtowns of Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal on May 2.
Lee Lakeman, of the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres, called the ad "grotesque and exploitative in the extreme."
"It's particularly grotesque in a situation where women are dead and where many families are grieving and dealing with the horrible possibility their family members' bodies were mutilated in farm machinery and in the meat-processing machinery," said Lakeman from Vancouver.
The mother of one victim, however, didn't take offense, figuring that what happened to her 29 year old daughter's body after her death wasn't really all that important.
"Once she was dead and her pain was over, I'm not hung up about what happened to her body," said Pat deVries from Guelph, Ont., where she is raising Sarah's daughter.
Perhaps so. Certainly, I don't think PeTA should be banned from spreading their ads around. But there is something deeply disturbing about the ad itself and the arrogant mindset of the people who conjured up the idea. This is unspeakably cruel to most of the people who have reason to believe that their daughters fell prey to the presumptive perpetrator, Picton.
How can PeTA reconcile their desire for a cruelty-free world, with an ad that is itself cruel? It's simple! There is the greater good, after all. If you believe in the moral equivalence of humans and non-humans, then there is no problem!
The point PETA was trying to make was that animals experience pain and suffering just as people do, said Bruce Friedrich, the group's campaign director based in Washington, D.C.
"Canadians who are shocked at the thought that they may have eaten human flesh should think about the fact that there appears not to be a difference in taste between pig flesh and human flesh," said Friedrich.
"A corpse is a corpse, whether it formerly belonged to a pig, a cow, a chicken, or a human."
And there you have it! Reconciliation wasn't so hard after all! They're all just dead things!