Monday, May 09, 2005

PETA Backs Down

In 2003, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) ran a series of ads comparing the sufferings of animals in slaughterhouses with the Holocaust. In several of the ads, photos of diseased, emaciated animals were placed next to photos of starved concentration camp inmates. As might be imagined, there was quite a furor over all of this, especially from Jewish groups. This week, PETA issued a half-hearted apology which most of the protesting groups accepted. An interesting thing to note is that to my knowledge, none of the criticizing organizations in any way tried to dispute the suffering of the animals involved, only stating that the ads were generally “offensive”. So my question is this: If humans are just animals who possess an unusually high level of intelligence (as I believe), and they are capable of feeling pain in the same way we are (which is almost universally accepted), in what way were these ads incorrect? Animals in slaughterhouses are put through tortures comparable to what the Jews in the death camps faced. I’m honestly curious; what is the difference? Please comment below.


Blogger The Bookhouse Boy said...

Perhaps intellectually I agree with you that people are just intellegent animals, but so what? To an outside observer, cows and people might not be equal. But we aren't outside observers; we're people. We cannot view all creatures equally, and we don't.

While you can make these arguments, in real life a person who refused to differenciate between people and animals at all would be put away.

It doesn't wholly excuse cruelty at animal ... of course animals can suffer. But, if you, me and a cow are stuck on a desert island, we'd kill the cow first, right?

Don't answer that right away. But animal rights are, I think, a luxury for people. As in, they're something you have to give up in certain situations.

1:40 AM  
Blogger Mr. Sin said...

Also, there's a traditional Internet rule which states the moment you use the Nazis as an anlogy, you've lost your argument. I like that rule.

11:28 PM  
Blogger Henry Garfield said...

I admit you’re right in that it’s impossible for us to treat animals as equals; after all, as you note, we’re humans. We’ll always be subjectively partial to our own species. I also tend to think that any animal species that did not prey of other life forms would not survive for long. What I’m really complaining about here is the cruelty we inflict on animals in meat packing plants. If we have to kill animals, fine. But let’s do it in a humane way. There’s just no excuse for the suffering they’re put through.
This belief kind of links into my viewpoint on the Terry Schiavo mess. If you’re going to kill the woman, fine. She’s brain-dead anyway. But for God’s sake, give her a lethal dose of medication, put a pillow over her face, just don’t starve her to death. It’s cruel and unnecessary.

12:47 AM  
Blogger The Bookhouse Boy said...

That's a really good point about Terry Schivo. (Not to get too off subject, but did you see the South Park where they had Kenny in the Terry role ... when they finally find his living will, the last page of it reads "If I am ever in a sustained vegitative state, please do not show me on TV. Those guys are awesome).

And as far as meat-packing plants go ... well, yeah, they're pretty bad. There's got to be aline somewhere, and we're crossing it in some situations now. I can't quite say where that line is, but it's not very close to where PETA would draw it.

1:30 AM  

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