This more an indictment of religion than a petition for animal rights: but I detest extremists of all kinds.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been widely criticized for its campaign comparing Nazi Holocaust victims to farm animals, its blind insistence that Jesus was a vegetarian, and it callous attempts to cheapen the symbols and rituals of Roman Catholicism. But a new report from the Center for Consumer Freedom indicates that these offensive gestures are just the tip of a larger iceberg.
I’m pretty much in favor for most of that, with the exception of comparing the Holocaust to farm animals. I’m a speciesist: so I tend to favor my species over others.
This eye-opening report includes an inventory of scripture contradicting PETA’s claim that only vegetarians can be observant Christians, Jews, Mormons, and Muslims.
At this juncture, I’m rolling my eyes: religion, as always, muddies waters to invisibility.
A limited number of bound, printed copies are available to religious leaders and credentialed journalists.
No attributions? Interesting.
“[H]owever sympathetically you interpret the Judeo-Christian religious tradition, it puts animals in a fundamentally different category from human beings … I think in the end we have, reluctantly, to recognize that the Judeo-Christian religious tradition is our foe.”
– Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation and PETA’s philosophical godfather
At the “Animal Rights 2002″ national convention, Animal Liberation author and avowed atheist Peter Singer lamented that “mainstream Christianity has been a problem for the animal movement.” Two days later at the same event, a program director with the Fund for Animals issued a warning: “If we are not able to bring the churches, the synagogues, and the mosques around to the animal rights view,” he cautioned, “we will never make large-scale progress for animal rights in the United States.”
I made it quite evident in 2009 how I felt about Singer and his utilitarianism: my verdict still stands in that regard.
In the hope of converting Planet Earth’s religious majority into vegetarians, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has taken these challenges seriously. The group regularly searches for “faith-based campaigners” to spread the gospel of vegetarianism. And like Peter Singer, acknowledged by PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk as her life’s inspiration, the group’s own odd evangelism actively seeks to confront and challenge the beliefs of Jews, Catholics, Protestant Christians, Mormons, and Muslims — often in deliberate defiance of their respective scriptures.
The whole problem here, is that when you fight fire with fire, you end up with nothing but ash. In those imaginary worlds flooded with allegorical whimsy, no two interpretations will agree.
We’re better off convincing the believers they believe in crap, than trying to reason with them on their own terms.
PETA generally avoids alienating Hindus, whose “bad karma” prohibitions against killing most animals have endeared them to animal rightists. But Hindu law expressly permits eating meat. Similarly, the Buddhist world has (so far) been spared PETA’s impious tantrums, although many Buddhists eat meat — including the Dalai Lama.
‘Impious’? Well, the article was written to try to ‘bridge’ the gaps.
In its religious outreach, as with everything else the group attempts, PETA has blindly pursued offensive strategies without regard for the consequences. Instead of earning a reputation for “kindness,” “compassion,” and other qualities associated with religious faithfulness, PETA pursues campaigns that offend, provoke, and otherwise show contempt for the faithful.
Shit, what playbook is the author reading? Religious faithfulness usually lacks any real kindness or compassion: it’s the temperament of the people. Or as I like to say, it’s about biology, not ideology.
PETA claims — despite ample evidence to the contrary — that Jesus Christ was a vegetarian. (The six-volume, 7,000-page Anchor Bible Dictionary doesn’t even include an entry for “vegetarianism.”) A PETA website urges Muslims to eat no meat, in open contradiction to the Qur’an.
There’s ample evidence that Jebus didn’t exist – but that’s a glosser.
PETA holds protests at houses of worship, even suing one church that tried to protect its members from Sunday-morning harassment. Its billboards and advertisements taunt Christians with the message that livestock (not Jesus) died for their sins.
That’s somewhat overboard – what people do with their own time is nobody’s business.
PETA declares, contrary to a wealth of rabbinical teaching, that ritual kosher slaughter is inherently cruel and barbarous. It directs its Jewish members (and any other Jews who will listen) to abstain from eating lamb during the Passover seder. And the group’s infamous “Holocaust on Your Plate” campaign crassly compares the Jewish victims of Nazi genocide with farm animals.
Way overboard – also a non sequitor.
Along the way, PETA has considered “Thou Shalt Not Steal” a commandment of convenience, lifting copyrighted materials without permission from a Catholic religious order, a popular television show, and even the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. PETA’s mission to bring carnivores under the tofu tent routinely ignores prohibitions against “taking the Lord’s name in vain.” And the group’s official endorsement of arson and other violence against animal-rights targets comes most often from its leading parsnip pulpitarian, a man who publicly holds himself up as an example of “Christian mercy” while privately advocating “blowing stuff up and smashing windows” and “burning meat trucks.”
I spent half an hour googling, trying to find somewhere where somebody got killed. With no luck. There are crazy extremist in every group: we even find them sometimes in the ranks of atheists (though not very often: usually it’s some raging anti-Semitic nutcase, or a conspiracy loon. Sigh.).
Because of PETA’s obnoxious and often hateful rhetoric (and its brazen association with the violent underbelly of the animal rights movement), its voice is frequently condemned by mainstream religious leaders and increasingly unwelcome among worshippers.
It’s always a mistake to play on a level field with ‘believers’: they will almost always assume that they are on a higher moral ground than others, and rationality will likely never prevail.
Life will someday be easier, when the barbaric anachronism of religion is gone. It will make rational debate simpler, and the blind adherence to outdated rules irrelevant.
As to the other topic? Medical studies tell us that humans should eat a balanced diet – an excess of one food group over another is usually not healthy. Should we treat livestock better? Of course we should – they taste better that way.
But inflicting pain and terror on lesser species? That’s bad news. It shows a callous side to the human condition that we need to change.
Till the next post, then.