Home       Site Map      Archives      Search      Bio & Photos       FAQs       Links       Contact       Get Brent       Help


Want more?  Check the archives!









PETA:  Silk Purse From a Sow's Ear

July, 2000


            There is a part of me that knows better, that understands writing this column is exactly what they’d want.  This kind of press is cheap, and I hate making it easy.

            So chalk one up for PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.  Think what you will of their message, there are none better at milking every ounce of ink and airplay out of a buck.  The formula seems almost too simple, but few execute it as well: shock the conscience publicly and cheaply, call the press, and watch the fun. 

It’s an effective strategy, even beautiful in its cunning.  A cursory glance at the news this year finds comparisons of circuses to slavery, claims that meat causes impotence, protests at Indian embassies over that country’s fledgling meat industry, even an attack on Hilary Clinton (!) for taking campaign donations from a furrier.

Silliness is no obstacle.  PETA is presently asking the Green Bay Packers football team to change their name, saying it promotes violence and bloodshed because it refers to meat packers.  Their straight-faced suggestions: the “Pickers” (as in fruits and vegetables), or “Six-Packers.”

            One of the organization’s greatest publicity coups required only a few protesters ranting about rats and rights.  The rats in question were barbecued by the cast of the wildly popular CBS show “Survivor.”  I thought a good rat feed served those greed heads right, but this is an organization whose founder, Ingrid Newkirk, believes “There is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights.  A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.  They’re all mammals.”

            That’s hard to top, but their most bizarre effort might be “Jesus Was A Vegetarian,” comprised of little more than a few billboards, a web site, and a press conference.  The campaign’s provocative name and a mural depicting Jesus with the phrase “Thou shall not kill” was all it took, though a sloppily assembled mishmash of scripture can be found at the PETA web site.

            Scoffers like to think they can find anything in the Bible, but support for vegetarianism requires hallucinogenic mushrooms with that salad.  One must at least ignore Jesus’ participation in Passover meals, which involved the slaughter of a lamb, and his multiplying loaves and fishes to feed the masses.  Then there was that pesky vision of the Apostle Peter.   

            In Acts, Peter was shown “something like a large sheet” containing “all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air.  Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter.  Kill and eat.’  ‘Surely not, Lord!’ Peter replied.  ‘I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.’  The voice spoke to him a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’”

            Christians should not feel particularly put upon, however.  PETA has material aimed at Jews and Moslems as well, likely no better grounded in the theologies of those religions than the “Jesus” campaign.

            The “Got Beer” fiasco was launched in Florida just as spring break hit.  A parody of the popular “Got Milk” promotion, PETA ran ads in college newspapers featuring models with beer-foam mustaches pushing the notion that beer is healthier than milk.  Turns out it also results in more DUI arrests, which local authorities did not find amusing. 

            Less amusing still was last month’s “Unhappy Meal” stunt, where PETA activists stalked McDonald’s restaurants passing knockoffs of the familiar Happy Meal box to unsuspecting kids.  The “toy” inside was a mangled, bloodied plastic animal.  If PETA were right about meat consumption causing aggressive behavior, I suspect a few parent-type carnivores might have found a creative alternate use for the group’s sick prize.  As it happened, no incidents were reported.

            Alas, when it comes to parody, PETA can dish it out but not take it.  Last month they won a court case against a web site called “peta.org,” a spoof dubbed “People Eating Tasty Animals.”  The site’s owner intends to appeal, saying parodies are Constitutionally protected free speech. 

Ironically, PETA better hope so.  It’s about all they’ve got. 



© 1997 – 2002 Brent Morrison






Email Brent:






Latest columns:


Getting the most hits:


Need an antidote to "Harmful to Minors"?

(See column

Try Rae Turnbull's excellent "Be the Parent Your Child Deserves"


Get Brent

in your local paper.

Click here!


Hear Brent

speak to your community group, church, fundraiser, or business group.  Click here.