Wrestling For Rights: Predators And Prey Lovers Battle For Animals

peta-biker-leather

This more an indictment of religion than a petition for animal rights: but I detest extremists of all kinds.

How PETA twists religion to push animal “rights.”

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.

Introduction

“[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.

This entry was posted in And now for something completely different, Boo-fucking-hoo!, Delusion, Education, Health reform, Morality, Mythology, Religion, Skepticism. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Wrestling For Rights: Predators And Prey Lovers Battle For Animals

  1. ChuckA says:

    Hmmm…
    This PETA oriented shtick vaguely reminds me of an old “New Age-ish” issue RE theoretical consciousness supposedly residing in literally everything; including vegetables…and even rocks, etc.
    Which led me to a Google search for something related to “the screaming of the lettuce” or “the anguish of the carrots”…but not much caught my old jaded eye…except this item:

  2. ChuckA says:

    I was also thinking of some old Tom Lehrer type songs. This one is kinda nice (in a PETA poking, sadistically joking way?):

    AND…
    Pardon me, KA, for some, admittedly, VERY marginally related blabbing on…
    Actually, after just over two years of literal “car-less-ness”, I recently, totally out-of-the-blue, got a 1986 Chevy Nova (in really great shape!) literally GIVEN to me by an also-recently re-united Cat-lick grammar (& fellow altarboy)/high school/and early college (Fall of ’57) classmate…who, as it turns out, is also, VERY pleasantly & surprisingly, a RARE friend and also rare…NON-BELIEVER!
    He actually drove it to my Apt. building door in Des Plaines, IL; all the way from Winona, Minnesota!
    Talk about getting a totally unexpected surprise!
    Which…(the Post topic ‘tangential kicker’ in this little addendum)…now affords me greater access to really nice things like…driving to a Burger King for an old favorite “Whopper with cheese”.
    Yum, Yum!
    In fact, my stomach is growling, right now, at the very thought!
    SEE?…”Existential Redemption”, it would seem, also comes from being an old “faithful” atheist!…??? :shock:

  3. Sue Blue says:

    I think that religion can be blamed for the callous disregard of animal suffering (as well as disregard for the environment in general) because it expressly teaches, right there in Genesis, that “man” was given “dominion” over the animals and the earth. This attitude of superiority imbues everything that Christians think and do, from climate change denial to animal rights. For instance, I don’t recall one single person in my childhood church expressing horror at the descriptions of animal sacrifice in the bible – before Jesus got nailed up, Jews were supposed to sacrifice their best, cutest, cuddliest lambs, calves, etc., as atonement for their sins. The meat, of course, was used to feed the priests (besides tithing, yet another way of sponging off of the community, giving nothing but false hopes and bogus blessings in return for expensive livestock). This attitude really riled me up – God was perfectly happy to allow thousands of years of pointless suffering and death for animals before he got around to sending Jesus into the trenches? Utter barbarism. Surprisingly (or not, depending on your point of view), they also don’t express much horror at real human suffering either, yet they claim to be so very concerned about human embryos.

    Now, I’m perfectly aware that there is no pity in nature. Animals kill each other, and die horrible, agonizing deaths every minute of every day in the wild. Humans once had to kill other animals in order to survive. That’s the difference that bothers me. Animals in nature rarely kill just for the hell of it, and they certainly don’t do it to please imaginary gods. Killing for survival is justifiable, for fun or profit or religion – it’s not. In this day and age when most of us don’t have to go out and spear an antelope for dinner, when we have access to a huge variety of plant foods, I find it harder and harder to justify eating meat myself (I used to hunt, back in the day when I was living in the middle-of-nowhere Montana, was dirt-poor, and had a child to feed, but I hated it). I don’t agree with PETA’s methods or a lot of their claims, but I do find it hard to ignore Peter Singer’s points about how we should regard animal rights when every day brings new revelations about the similarities of cognition, emotion, and perception that all mammals and even birds, share.

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