There is a fundamental difference between indoctrination, useful for producing cult members, and enlightenment, the better to produce thoughtful, skeptical citizens.
PeTA has long favored the former, and one of the more noxious tactics they use is to target kids, a population easily impressed by emotional appeals, many of whom lack well-developed skeptical instincts that one would hope to find in mature adults. Once "hooked," the kids are easily influenced to represent PeTA's singular extreme ideological position on meat consumption, the use of animals in biomedical research, in entertainment, in hunting, farming, etc., and push material that PeTA helpfully provides.
The Center for Consumer Freedom has an excellent and comprehensive overview on how PeTA uses kids. I myself have posted on it, pointing out how PeTA encourages kids to lie, and more recently, calling attention to PeTA recruiting kids to harass and intimidate people (PeTA provided the home address and telephone number of a Wet Seal executive and his wife's name and birthday, and encouraged kids to inundate them with protests against the man's company, which sells some products containing fur).
In all honesty, when PeTA's Campaign Coordinator Noah Cooper encouraged kids to harass Wet Seal's CEO, I thought he might have gotten a little carried away and shown some cards that PeTA would just as soon keep hidden, viz., that PeTA didn't mean to go public with such tactics owing to the ugly implications.
I halfway expected PeTA to go silent about this episode and to pretend it never happened, but to not repeat their revealing error.
But I was wrong. PeTA has now posted on its PeTA2 blog for June 13, 2005 (I've captured the page here) a renewed call for kids to harass Wet Seal's CEO, an act which removes any doubt anyone might have had about the extent to which PeTA is willing to use kids to harass, if not intimidate (one can never rule out that some over enthusiastic kid may see himself as an ALF "action figure" and vandalize property or perhaps harm an individual).
But there's more. If you follow this "Wet Seal" link on the PeTA2 page, you'd better have a cast iron stomach. The long and the short of it is that PeTA has included clips of animals being brutalized in the most cruel fashion imaginable, including being skinned alive.
Keep in mind that PeTA places the link on a page that is intended for kids; that the heading of the section containing the video clip is "Wet Seal Butchers Bunnies" but that the animals being brutalized are not rabbits (there may be some clips of dead rabbits towards the end, being skinned); and that the grotesque handling of animals is happening in an Asian country.
PeTA apparently wishes its audience to infer — and I emphasize the word "infer" since they leave it to the audience to draw their own conclusion from the clip — that "Wet Seal" condones or is responsible for such brutalization and that the fur they sell was obtained using just such practices. PeTA presents no evidence that this is so, nor do they imply this other than by the crafty placement of the video window on their page, that what the video shows represents anything at all that "Wet Seal" is involved with. But the placement of the video window square in the middle of PeTA's screed against Wet Seal joins Wet Seal to "not Wet Seal" as neatly as could ever be imagined, and demonization happens through the logical inferences subconsciously fashioned by an unskeptical viewer's own mind.
It is corporate character assassination pure and simple, and the audience being targeted consists of impressionable kids, many of whom are unlikely to question what PeTA has to say.
If you choose to watch the video, and I almost hope you don't, here's what the Fur Commission of the USA has to say, and what you should keep in mind:
2005: The jury is still out on this one, but the evidence is highly suspect. Video purporting to show fur production in China is distributed early in 2005 by an animal rights group, Swiss Animal Protection Organization. By Spring of the same year, the footage is being distributed by North American animal rights groups with additional scenes added.
Highly edited, the video shown in the U.S. includes footage of a fox farm where a dog is heard barking excitedly, a shot of a highly agitated fox (perhaps offered food) surrounded by calm foxes, plus mink on a farm illustrating distressed behavior, perhaps due to unusual activity on the farm out of camera range.
The video includes clips of foxes and raccoon dogs (tanuki), both animals which are also taken from the wild, in a marketplace setting. One man appears wearing a butcher's apron as he quickly kills a raccoon dog. However, another man, wearing street clothes (black leather jacket and pleated black pants) brutally skins alive a raccoon dog that he has hung on the back of a truck (license plate removed). The animal tries to bite the man and struggles aggressively, making the process extremely difficult.
The camera comes in close on a skinned, but still moving animal on a pile of animal carcasses. While the moving animal is covered in blood, showing its heart was pumping during the process, the animals beneath it are clean, as they would be if skinned while dead, which, of course, is the standard, normal procedure and the ONLY acceptable one by humane standards.
Another scene shows a man wearing tattered shoes, hitting a fox on the head with a knife, temporarily stunning but not killing it. He then struggles to skin the obviously alive, moving animal, alternating with beating it with the knife. The animal struggles so much as to make the job impossible, and a shot is seen of the man's shoes on the animal's head.
It is nonsensical to suggest that skinning an animal alive is normal practice since even this film of inhumane behavior proves this process to be difficult and dangerous, and furthermore the pulse of the living animal would cause extensive bleeding and damage to the fur. It is therefore highly likely that these scenes were staged. [My emphasis . . . ed]
Even if you are an Animal Rights activist, completely unsympathetic meat eating, hunting, the use of animals in biomedical research, the use of fur and leather, and you believe wholeheartedly that any use of animals by humans is by definition a cruel violation of the animal's "rights," you really have to ask yourself what conceivable purpose could be served by brutalizing animals this way?
After all, if your goal is to obtain fur for profit, why would you make things so difficult for yourself by struggling with live animals? There are simple, cheap and efficient ways to euthanize many animals at one time (just ask PeTA — they killed upwards of 10,000 animals over one 5 year period . . .).
If this were a wide-spread, industrialized practice, you wouldn't have a few individuals dressed so casually doing unspeakable things to a few animals out-of-doors, and in such a crude and piecemeal fashion. Even if you are an AR activist, you have to admit that whatever is happening here is very small scale; the practices are so crude and piecemeal as to make no business sense at all.
On the other hand, if your goal is to create a propaganda film specifically to demonize the fur industry and then use it to recruit young minds against "animal exploitation," what would you do differently?
The logic, the facts, the evidence — it all flys in one direction, and one direction only.
The fur industry in Europe requested the original unedited footage from the Swiss animal rights group and was refused. The China Fur Commission and China Leather Industry Association challenged the authenticity of the material, saying: "Pictures showing animals being skinned alive are obviously plotted. All those with common sense would not choose this slaughter method to attain fur." The government of Suning County, Hebei Province also issued a statement outlining welfare practices on its fur farms, calling the alleged practice of skinning animals alive "unimaginable", and urging Swiss Animal Protection Organization to "respect the truth".
The media and general public should be highly suspect of this footage and work with the fur industry to determine the true story behind its production. (See Media wary of latest shock video, FCUSA commentary, May 25, 2005.)
The "Media wary of latest shock video" link contains this in a sidebar:
As this report goes to press, the investigation continues into highly suspect dialogue in the latest shock animal rights video from China. The audio is unclear, but certain words - translated here from the local dialect - are discernible. What do they mean? You decide.
A man in street clothes is about to skin a raccoon dog alive. Another man appears to be instructing him with such expressions as "You should do this." Meanwhile, a clearly surprised on-looker asks, "You will skin the animal alive?"
After the animal has been skinned, another on-looker calls to the photographer, "Take a picture here quickly. The animal is still alive."
I strongly urge readers of AC to visit the links above (particularly this one) and get a sense of the history of animal "snuff films."
Then, think about how quickly PeTA is to expose their young readership to a film clip that is so obviously a piece of crude, staged, albeit highly emotional anti-fur propaganda, and how PeTA infers, absent any evidence of a connection, that the company "Wet Seal" and its CEO are implicated in, if not responsible for, the brutal practices depicted in the staged brutality.
And keep in mind the disconnect between the page's caption "Wet Seal Butchers Bunnies" and the brutality perpetrated on animals other than rabbits in the film.
This PeTA2 attack on Wet Seal is the stuff of indoctrination, where ideology trumps evidence and most disturbingly, where the target population consists of unskeptical children.
PeTA's goal in using this obviously staged film-clip isn't to stop animal abuse. Rather, PeTA's goal is to exploit staged animal abuse to increase the influence of Cult PeTA.
And how sick is that?
Thanks to Orac for the PeTA2 tip.