For those who believe that PeTA is a bunch of goofs whose propagandistic ways and radical agenda couldn't possibly enter the mainstream, guess again. Or, perhaps more disturbingly, maybe the mainstream just isn't so mainstream (I report, you decide . . .).
The father of a Redding Middle School student is upset that his daughter received a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals booklet from a Child Development class at Redding middle school. Paul Johnston of Middletown said the promotional material from the radical animal rights group crosses lines of good taste, and should have no place in local schools.
If only this were merely a matter of "good taste." It is a matter of a radical ideology being presented as if it were mainstream biology, philosophy or nature study.
“I thought it was totally inappropriate for something like this to even be thought of being in the curriculum,” he said.
Johnston took issue with cartoons in the book depicting meat-eating children as cruel, fat and sick. One cartoon trading card, “Sickly Sally” features a green child lying in a pool of her own vomit – an image PETA would like to associate with eating chicken.
The group advocates placing animals on an equal ethical plane with humans. [Emphasis added . . . ed]
Neither PeTA's ethical nor political agenda is a secret, and neither are they in any way, shape or form "moderate." They are radical, and it is difficult to imagine which makes the school look worse: that they knew full well what PeTA stands for and support it, or they are without a clue and they taught PeTA's radical tripe was one of raw, bone-crushing ignorance.
Their message did not go over well with Johnston, who eats meat, as does his daughter.
“Unless you’re a vegetarian, this book is totally against you,” he said. “We do believe in conservation, saving animals, all that kind of stuff. It’s one thing about saving animals, it’s another thing, they way these guys are doing it.”
Appoquinimink School District spokeswoman Lilian Miles said in an e-mail message the booklet was part of the “Helping Animals 101” child development course offered at the school, and was offered to help students research animal welfare issues.
“Helping Animals 101 is designed to offer students an opportunity to research animal welfare issues, including the protection of natural habitats, endangered species, medical testing and shelter/adoption services for abandoned pets,” she wrote. “Drawing upon new-found awareness and creativity, students are then challenged to develop positive, proactive responses to one or more areas of special interest.”
Miles said the PETA booklet was one of many resource materials and multiple viewpoints, and that the course offered a balanced presentation. She said administrators were reviewing the material to see if there is a need to make changes.
[ . . . ]
You can only wonder at Miles' statement. First, PeTA has precious little to do with animal welfare, and everything to do with Animal Rights. And the two are fundamentall different, as I've pointed out many times (for example, here):
For those who are unclear about the AR/AW distinction, my rule of thumb is this: Animal Rights people believe that animals have an intrinsic natural right not to be controlled in any way by humans. So - if you wouldn't do it to a human being, you shouldn't do it to an animal. So - animals are not to be kept as pets, eaten, caged, kept in zoos, ridden, killed for sport, used in research, hunted, made fun of, raced, bought, altered (tail and ears cut are forbidden), walked on a leash, or bred for characteristics that humans think desirable. Any person who engages in any of these practices is fair game for being branded an animal abuser, torturer, or murderer by the AR crowd.
For some unstated - or unstatable - reason, Animal Rights people are strong advocates of spaying and neutering dogs and cats. I am mystified why this practice doesn't qualify as a violation of an animal's right to enjoy the act of sex and his/her right to reproduce. I don't understand why AR's don't consider spaying and neutering an unnecessary surgery that places an animal's life at risk and is frivolously undertaken for the convenience of human beings, and why, because of it's mood- and behavior-altering sequelae, it isn't condemned outright as psychological abuse. Go figure ... lopping off testicles is okay, snipping ears is not ...
Animal welfare is much different. Spaying and neutering are consistent with the welfarist position, as are all the practices enumerated above that the AR people find abhorrent.
Second, Miles tries to hide behind edu-speak, suggesting that the course really involved much more than just PeTA's propaganda.
Right. So — in educating students about the use of animals in testing (and presumably research), were students presented with a coherent rationale and a competent ethical and scientific defense of the use of animals in biomedical research? If not, then PeTA's propaganda goes unchallenged, and the students have been indoctrinated.
Each of these organizations has its own set of heavy-duty conservation programs, and if their point of view, or one resembling it, has been excluded from the lesson plan, then the school is indoctrinating, not educating, no matter what the teachers' motives might be.
And what about the wool, dairy and meat industries? Did the school show the students a competent defense of any of these industries? Each of these industries has been specifically targeted by PeTA, and if their point of view, their defense, was excluded, then the students were indoctrinated, not educated.
Mind you, I don't know for sure that such points of view weren't presented, but I do know where I'm putting my money . . .
Back to the Middletown article:
Johnston said his daughter, who loves animals, came home upset last week about the contents of the magazine. The pamphlet, called “Grrr! Kids bite back,” urges kids not to eat chicken, fish or meat, drink milk or wear leather or wool. One article praises a girl for protesting against a March of Dimes fundraiser at her school because the charity funds research that involves animal testing.
“This stuff doesn’t solve anything, it just condemns everybody. It doesn’t teach them anything,” Johnston said. “It’s just uncalled for.”
Never shy about speaking their minds, the Center for Consumer Freedom decided to have their say, and sent a letter to the school board (pdf format). While the entire letter is worth reading, here is the pithiest paragraph:
The debate shouldn't be about whether animal welfare is a valuable thing to teach. No one, after all, wants to endorse cruelty to animals. But it's equally irresponsible to lend a school's imprimatur to the teachings of a group that values lab rats over human children, believes giving milk to kids constitutes "child abuse," actively recruits an "army of animal rights rebels" in and around schools, encourages children to regard their non-vegetarian parents as "murderers," and has even funded the operations of arsonists and other violent felons.
For those who are interested, I wrote a piece I called Humane Indoctrination some time ago, and it was about essentially the same kind of thing: the curriculum of some schools being strongly slanted towards certain trendy ecological/animal — what — visions (in October 2003, a California school district became the second one in the nation to create a Humane Education curriculum — an entire curriculum based on environmentalism, global warming, animal rights and concern about overpopulation).
Read it and weep.
And a thousand thanks to the people at CCF for trying to educate the educators.