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If PETA turns off - or confuses -- or alienates more than they win (and those stats are hard to find; PETA is NOT interested in supporting any such efforts by marketers OR social scientists OR advocates; they are interested in showing the KINDS of 'effectiveness' that will allow them to claim legitimacy for their supporters; downsides are constant, and the meat industry could be considered a byproduct of those disaffected by the notion that nonhumans are persons, too).
If those we WANT to reach are confused by PETA, OUR efforts to reach those persons are LOST and made either far MORE difficult or impossible. On a list like this, ask yourselves (if you're really Christians and not merely folks wanting to converse on a list of a certain gentility) whether you're MORE able to reach Christians with vegetarian and humane messages BECAUSE of PETA, or does PETA's 'in your face' demonstrations (despite all the 'good' they seem to do) make such communications MORE difficult?
I'd wager that, if honest, we'd say the latter.
There's a place for scholarship in the vegetarian and pro-animal movement; PETA doesn't provide that (nor does anyone else; the highly politicized universities are a refuge for authors and scholars). Churches and faith communities are a solace for those struggling to find spiritual truth; PETA does not provide that; rather, it polemicizes. Social science is crucial for advocates understanding how best to communicate vegetarian and pro-animal messages and insights; PETA doesn't sponsor any of that; PETA recruits activists of a certain kind, and woe to the advocate who dares publicly (or privately, in many cases) criticizes PETA's methods.
Criticizing PETA's methods is not an attack on PETA; far LESS is it an attack on the effort to EFFECTIVELY communicate vegetarian and pro-animal messages and insights to the general public. However, sensitive and thoughtful critics of PETA's tactics are often demonized by PETA's sycophantic 'friends' and supporters (read donors).
In looking at NUMBERS, we KNOW that (worldwide OR in the USA) MORE animals are killed today for food, clothing, and scientific enterprise than had been killed before for those purposes. Thus, the AR movement in the aggregate has not been effective in realizing the KEY goal of the animal welfare movement: LESS of the cruelty - nor the key GOAL of the animal rights movement: legal incorporation of a protected RIGHTS status for nonhumans. If the AR movement in the aggregate has not been effective in THESE key goals, neither has PETA, often cited as the presumed leader of the AR movement (as Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney is cited as the presumptive head of the Republican Party in the US).
There ARE better ways to do 'animal rights' work; more intelligent leadership is needed. PETA COULD enable that more intelligent pro-animal leadership, but to date they do not. I believe that PETA sees itself as generating widespread sympathy for animals at some level. Metrics for whether or not they are 'effective' in any quantifiable sense are difficult if not impossible to generate. Certainly they are not currently available in any public sense.
Go on to: Comments by Mike Shaw - 28 May 2009
Return to: Animal Rights Activism: What's the Best Way?
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