By Scott Tibbs, March 17, 2009
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which has well-documented connections to the terrorist Earth Liberation Front, dispatched two young women to protest the Kentucky Fried Chicken on Bloomington's west side on Saturday. As an added attention-getting measure, they were dressed in green bikinis (and what appeared to be leather boots) for St. Patrick's Day.
Imagine for a moment that I showed up to picket Planned Parenthood wearing a thong. Despite the fact that my fellow abortion opponents would disown me and condemn my behavior, I would discredit the anti-abortion movement and bring shame upon myself with that kind of indecent exposure. Would I draw attention to the protest? Yes. Is it likely that I would draw a reporter from the newspaper, thereby bringing the issue of abortion into the spotlight? Yes. But I would be harming the cause of opposing abortion, even though more people heard about the issue by reading about my hypothetical thong-wearing protest.
This is why PETA's protest tactics are not effective. Rather than drawing attention to the issue of animal cruelty, they make the issue all about themselves. If the PETA "ladies" were holding graphic photographs of chickens killed for our food, they would draw attention and probably anger, but the focus would be on the issue of animal cruelty - not the circus-like atmosphere created by immature people begging for attention.
Of course, this isn't unusual for PETA. Ingrid Newkirk recently requested in "that the 'meat' of my body, or a portion thereof, be used for a human barbecue" and that "my skin, or a portion thereof, be removed and made into leather products, such as purses." The point? To show that eating animals or using their skin for leather is no different from using human beings in this manner. Of course, this leaves the question open: why is it moral for a lion to eat other animals, but it is not immoral for human beings to do the same thing?
Is PETA actually concerned about animal welfare, or are they little more than attention whores? The strange and bizarre behavior of Newkirk and her followers is little different from the strange and bizarre behavior of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church. In the mid-1990's, the extremist Animal Defense League student group at Indiana University stated on their web site that they did not support PETA because of PETA's circus-like tactics, which is understandable. If I believed in "animal rights", I would still oppose PETA, because their silly tactics take attention away from the issues of animal cruelty and draw attention to the protesters rather than the issues.
There are legitimate issues of animal cruelty that should be addressed, and I support reasonable legislative measures to address those issues. That is why I support the effort to regulate "puppy mills" to ensure humane treatment of animals. If PETA were to drop the silly tactics, reckless and offensive hyperbole like comparing killing chickens to the Nazi Holocaust, and engage the issues like civil and reasonable human beings. They might even find common ground with a number of conservatives. But PETA should know this: as long as your focus is to draw attention to yoursELF, you will never be taken seriously and you do a great disservice to your cause. But your "cause" is not the point, is it?