So PeTA's disgusting "Are Animals the New Slaves" campaign (you can view the on line display here) has prompted quite a backlash from the black community. So much so, that PeTA has suspended its tour, and is "evaluating":
RICHMOND, Va. - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals _ known as much for staging shocking protests as for championing animal rights _ is reconsidering a campaign comparing slavery to animal abuse after complaints from civil rights groups and others.
"Animal Liberation," which includes 12 panels juxtaposing pictures of black people in chains with shackled elephants and other provocative images, had visited 17 cities before the Norfolk-based group put the tour on hold. The decision came within the last week.
PETA wrapped up the first leg of the tour in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
"We're not continuing right now while we evaluate," said Dawn Carr, a PETA spokeswoman. "We're reviewing feedback we've received _ most of it overwhelmingly positive and some of it quite negative." [My emphasis . . . ed]
This is almost certainly a bald-faced lie. They've taken one hit after another on this campaign, as well they should. And the media is focussing on the racial slur and the outrage its provoked, not on PeTA's sick animal/human equivalence.
Stops had included Columbia, S.C., Birmingham, Ala., and Baton Rouge, La. _ cities in the heart of Dixie where, ironically, Carr said the images were most well received.
Suspended from a metal trellis, one cloth panel shows a black civil rights protester being beaten at a lunch counter beside a photo of a seal being bludgeoned. Another panel, titled "Hanging," shows a graphic photo of a white mob surrounding two lynched blacks, their bodies hanging from tree limbs; a nearby picture shows a cow hanging in a slaughterhouse.
But controversy erupted Aug. 8, when the display stopped in New Haven, Conn.
"There was one man who began shouting that the exhibit was racist," Carr said. "Then, there was a lot of shouting."
Carr said officials are using the shocking images to prove a point: Whether it's humans harming animals or each other, all point to an oppressive mind-set.
"They all stem from the notion that might makes right," Carr explained.
Is it just me, or are others, too, sick and tired of hearing the word "oppression" used to justify — well — just about everything these days?
But officials with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People aren't buying it.
"PETA operates by getting publicity any way they can," said John White, an NAACP spokesman. "They're comparing chickens to black people?"
It marks the second time in recent months PETA has come under fire for comparing a group of people's suffering to the plight of animals.
Officials with the group apologized earlier this year after a campaign comparing the suffering of Jews during the Holocaust with that of factory animals. [My emphasis . . . ed]
Ingrid Newkirk's was a non-apology apology. She apologized for any hurt the campaign might have caused, while justifying the moral parallel PeTA conjured up of holocaust victims to chickens. Wesley Smith wrote a devastating article on it, and I added my 2 cents here.
That campaign ran from February 2003 to October 2004.
"These people (PETA) seem to be in the very slow learners category," said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project with the Southern Poverty Law Center, in Montgomery, Ala., where the exhibit stopped in July.
Still, I'm not sure PeTA had any reason to believe they'd provoke the firestorm that ensued. After all, as I recently pointed out:
In fact, this is hardly the first time PeTA has exploited massive human tragedy and injustice for their loopy ideology. Just off the top, I can think of 3 other times: when they exploited the deaths of Canadian girls, whose remains authorities believe were disposed of in meat products made by their alleged killer, a pig farmer; when PeTA compared meat farmers to cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer; and when PeTA ran their Holocaust on Your Plate campaign, in which they comparing domestic animal farming to the Holocaust.
Up until now, and for reasons that are a mystery to me, they've been able to get away with such shenanigans. But I think things are different this time: the black community doesn't appear willing to accept their history being made a prop to showcase PeTA's world of moral equivalence.
Mr. Potok continued:
"Black people in America have had quite enough of being compared to animals without PETA joining in," Potok said. "This is disgusting."
And likely ineffective, said Paul Farris, a marketing professor at the University of Virginia. He pointed to anti-smoking campaigns that often rely on frank pictures of nicotine-blackened lungs.
After a while, he said, smokers just don't pay attention.
"If it's going to be so shocking and so disrupting, then they just turn it off," he said.
First of all, look for PeTA to "evaluate" the situation for awhile, say, several weeks. Then, look for them once again to issue a statement, most likely from Ingrid Newkirk herself, that apologizes for "any hurt" their campaign "may" have caused; to announce the termination of the tour (I'd be willing to bet the web version remains — but even if it doesn't, I've captured it); to justify the campaign on the basis that oppression is oppression, and regardless of whether the oppressed group consists of blacks, women or animals, all are victims of The Powerful, and so, PeTA will claim, the parallel they've drawn holds true. Our disgust with it, one can infer, reflects our insensitivity to the plight of oppressed animals.
That justification will be accepted by Animal Rights people, who view speciesism — discriminating on the basis of species differences — every bit as immoral and unethical as discriminating on the basis of race, age, sex or sexual preference. After all, the life of a human and that of an animal are equally worthy.
Finally, I resent and take issue with the assessment of Paul Farris. The smoking analogy is poorly chosen — people smoke because they choose to, they find it satisfying, if not pleasurable, are willing to accept that its a risky business, and the main damage done is to the smokers themselves. Pictures showing black lung disease just aren't going to wash with this demographic, because the pictures are just ugly pictures.
Being a black person or a Jew (let's not forget PeTA's Holocaust on a Plate campaign) is entirely different. For these people, it's not a matter of choice but of birth, and each group has a history of being victimized, in horrible ways.
In both the "Holocaust on Your Plate" campaign and "Are Animals the New Slaves?" campaign PeTA sought to profit from the historical and painful tragedy that, regrettably, seems largely to define them.
No, Mr. Farris. People wouldn't just come to ignore PeTA's campaigns . . . nor should they . . . the pictures PeTA wished to profit off of in their "Are Animals the New Slaves?" tour were every bit as symbolic as cross burning, and outrage against them would only gather strength.
In short, PeTA isn't backing off because the pictures they were showing were ineffective or likely to be ignored. Quite the opposite — PeTA's backing off because the negative reaction to the pictures was increasing exponentially.
Al Sharpton, a current or former PeTA spokesman, must be thanking his lucky stars that he doesn't have to make a choice here . . .
Thanks to Lisa A and Joe W for the heads up.