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Christian Vegetarian Association Presents:
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Responses to Victor Schonfeld

These are comments in favor of and against Schonfeld’s “Five Fatal Flaws of Animal Activism”:

- Paul, a CVA sustainer, writes:

Schonfeld's "Five Fatal Flaws" are right on target and have been voiced by other writers as well, such as Bob Torres in his excellent book, Making A Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights (AK Press, 2007). A friend and admirer of Gary Francione, Torres is critical of PETA for the reasons Schonfeld cites: the apparent commodification of women, using nudity to solicit sympathy and donations, as in their annual "State of The Union Undress"; and honoring counterproductive efforts to make the meat industry appear progressive and tolerable by marketing "happy cows", "sustainable meat", or more "humane" slaughterhouse conditions.

(I suspect that PETA, being directed by a woman (Ingrid Newkirk), does not intend their nude ad campaigns to be a commodification of women, but merely does so out of bad taste. They are fully aware that in American society, "sex sells.")

For instance, Bob Torres chastises PETA for giving its annual Progress award to Temple Grandin for her "visionary" work in bringing about slaughterhouse improvements that decrease the amount of suffering that animals experience in their final hours. Torres sees this as a conflict of interests. He writes, "If PETA is genuinely interested in abolishing all animal exploitation, and if they see the slaughter of animals as a moral wrong, it is seriously worth wondering why they would give an award to a slaughterhouse systems designer who delights in instructing people how to induce grand mal seizures in the very animals PETA have pledged to care about. In short, why is a group like PETA giving awards to people who design slaughterhouses to be more efficient engines of mass killing? Analogously, imagine a group opposed to the death penalty as a moral and ethical matter giving an award to someone who designed a more efficient form of capital punishment…."

Notwithstanding these valid criticisms and in their questionable tactics, PETA has probably done more to call attention to the plight of animals than any other advocacy group, and thereby puts to shame the apathy of evangelicals who claim to believe in "animal welfare."

- PETA’s President, Ingrid Newkirk, believes that “compromises and funny antics are necessary to the real work of animal protection”. To read her comments please visit A pragmatic fight for animal rights.

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