The Center for Consumer Freedom's counter demonstration against PeTA has drawn blood . . . and a PeTA spokesperson has been reduced to telling us that it's in the best interests of animals that they be killed by PeTA rather than someone else:
An animal rights activist on Wednesday defended PETA's involvement in the killing of an estimated 12,000 animals that had been taken in as strays. But the issue deflected attention away from a PETA demonstration in front of the U.S. Department of Agriculture meant to protest the sale of chicken products.
Partially clad PETA demonstrators laid in coffins for one hour while other protesters, some in chicken and turkey costumes, held signs reading, "Bird Flu Kills: Go Vegetarian."
The three women in the coffins were dressed in underwear and covered themselves with flowers to avoid being arrested for indecent exposure.
"We want people to know that a vegetarian diet is the safest diet in light of bird flu being transmitted through eating chicken, turkey and eggs," said PETA Campaign Coordinator Chris Link. He said the people in the coffins demonstrated "the importance of taking these actions against bird flu."See Video
But when demonstrators from the conservative Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) showed up minutes into the protest, Link and other PETA protesters had to respond to the claims that the animal rights group "kills animals."
The counter-protesters held signs reading "PETA Kills Animals" and set up their own coffin with one protestor dressed as a dog and another pretending to inject it with a giant ooze-filled syringe. The conservatives handed out brochures that outlined the June arrest of two PETA employees for placing the carcasses of 31 animals into a dumpster.
The two employees face felony animal cruelty charges in North Carolina in November.
"PETA's out here claiming falsely that you can get bird flu from eating chicken even though scientists tell us that's not the case," said CCF Director of Research David Martosko. "They're just trying to scare people."
Martosko said his group copied PETA's tactic of using coffins "to tell the public that PETA ought to use those coffins to give a proper burial to the thousands of animals they've actually killed."
According to the CCF's fliers, PETA "killed over 80 percent of the flesh-and-blood animals it took in" in 2004 and has euthanized more than 12,400 animals since 1998.
Link did not dispute the charges, but defended his group's actions. "[A]t this point because of the overpopulation, because enough people aren't spaying and neutering animals and they're over-breeding ... at this point it is in their best interest to be euthanized," Link said.
"If they would have died at that shelter they would have been inhumanely gassed with CO2," Link said. "So the way that we did it was humane. We mainly euthanized them."
Let's just step back a second here and ponder the whys and wherefores of what Mr. Link is saying . . .
Link is defending PeTA's policy of killing animals as if PeTA were an Animal Welfare organization.
PeTA is not an AW organization — it is a radical Animal Rights organization, and the difference between the two is the difference between night and day. (If you don't know the difference between Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, you should read this; once you understand that, then you can answer the question I pose here.)
The salient point is this: the central premise of Animal Rights is that the life of an animal and that of a human are of equal value — that a single moral standard should apply equally to both.
So — if it is immoral or unethical to do something to a human, it is equally immoral or unethical to do it to an animal. Or, to put it less abstractly, to treat a dog differently than you would a human simply because the dog is not a human is to practice "speciesism," which, to the Animal Rights true believer, is an indefensible moral transgression — a sin — no less odious than to practice racism, ageism or sexism.
This premise is illustrated on the banner of PeTA's web site which dynamically asserts that: "Animals are not ours to eat. Animals are not ours to wear. Animals are not ours to experiment on. Animals are not ours to use for entertainment. Animals are not ours to exploit."
Translation: if you wouldn't do it to a human, you don't do it to an animal.
It is based on this premise that Dr. Jerry Vlasak has testified before the Senate that animals and humans "are morally equal" and that it is morally acceptable to kill a few humans (scientists) to save a greater number of animal lives. Prior to this, Dr. Vlasak openly advocated that scientists be assassinated. (Dr. Vlasak is a former spokesman for the PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), a group whose president, Neal Barnard along with PeTA President Ingrid Newkirk, are two of the three Directors of the PeTA Foundation [formerly known as "Foundation to Support Animal Protection "], a foundation that dispenses big bucks from PeTA to the PCRM [link]).
When the PeTA/PCRM-linked Dr. Vlasak advocates assassination, he is only abiding by the AR premise that the life of an animal is of equal value to that of a human: if you can save "n+1" animals by killing "n" humans, that's acceptable because each life — animal and human — is of equal value, irrespective of species.
It is this premise of animal/human equivalency that prompted AR luminary Professor Steven Best to proclaim that if his dog and a human stranger were in a burning building, he'd save his dog first, because his dog was more important to him than the human stranger was to him. (Tough nuts if the human happens to be your spouse, child, parent, sib or friend — or you yourself happen to be Dr. Best's stranger!)
Professor Best is only living by the AR premise that the life of an animal is of equal value to that of a human. In the burning building case, that one of two equally valuable lives is saved is the only morally significant issue. Which life is saved is irrelevant within the greater AR moral framework. Indeed, the AR premise of animal/human equivalency released Dr. Best from any special moral duty to humans, and he became free to base his moral decision on his own interests. His dog gives him pleasure, and the human stranger does not. Ergo, he saves his dog.
Now back to PeTA's Mr. Link, who gamely — or unskeptically — finds nothing amiss whatsoever with PeTA operatives killing animals in vast numbers.
What are we to make of this?
It's hard to know . . . Mr. Link and PeTA may feel that animals lose their right to life simply because someone else decides they should be killed by breathing CO2! Having lost their right to live, PeTA then steps in and kills the animals with compassion . . . though one would think that the animals PeTA kills, those least likely to be adopted (they say), would be precisely those most deserving of having their "rights" protected by the world's flagship AR organization . . .
Or, perhaps, Mr. Link and PeTA have exempted themselves from the moral standard that they would impose on others: it's okay for PeTA to practice "speciesism" and kill animals simply for reasons of convenience because . . . because . . . uh . . . because . . ..
Or — more disturbingly — perhaps Mr. Link and PeTA are fully prepared to live by their "anti-speciesist" commitment, and would advocate killing humans for the same reasons PeTA kills animals, or, controlling human numbers through a program of forced sterilization (PeTA is strongly committed to spaying and neutering animals).
I'd love to hear what Mr. Link has to say about this . . .
Link added that PETA does not "support dumping animals the way that they were disposed of, but they were killed in a humane way."
Heh . . . there's the "does not support" canard once again. Translation: "PeTA does not condemn."
If you think about it, the two are exactly the same position, one of strict neutrality.
He also questioned the CCF's legitimacy, calling the group "a mouthpiece for the restaurant and big businesses that exploit animals."
Which accusation is, of course, a distraction, in effect a tu Quoque fallacy, a fallacy in which "one attempts to defend himself from attack by turning the critique back against the accuser." However bad the CCF might or might not be, that doesn't absolve PeTA from violating its own moral standard.
Think about that: PeTA is the group claiming the moral high ground, not the CCF. The CCF is merely helping the world understand the moral shortcomings of an organization that deliberately and with enormous fanfare and self-promotion holds itself up as a beacon of compassion, a group that would have us trust it to rewrite the moral and ethical standards of the world.
In any event, the CCF's aggressive campaign to reveal PeTA for what it is should serve as a model for every organization, business or individual who is harassed by PeTA.
PeTA craves publicty: give it to them.
Martosko shot back, accusing PETA of trying to stifle his free speech rights. "They want to monopolize things and tell everybody else's free speech that it's not as important as theirs. And in fact they've tried to sic the police on us to tell us we don't have the right to speak here on a street corner."
Martosko's group originally lined up in the middle of the PETA demonstration in an attempt to get its "PETA Kills Animals" sign visible in photographs and video being taken of the PETA coffins. Police later separated the two groups at PETA's request, moving the CCF display a few yards away.
[ . . . ]
Heh — but the pictures are out, and the PeTA people in the pictures don't look all that happy about what's happening. Here's my favorite:
Thanks to an AC reader for this link.