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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

"Tell Gucci to stop clubbing baby seals"

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Propaganda.

There's been a lot of talk in the northern blogosphere lately about PETA's disingenuous efforts to take down the sealing industry. I've been pretty clear that I think they're in the wrong. But I have to say that they definitely know what they're doing.

PETA's annual campaigns are not about saving baby seals. They haven't been for years. Their annual campaigns are about raising money, and they're pretty successful.

You see, it's illegal to kill whitecoat pups. The video footage PETA provides to news agencies makes it look like sealers are clubbing pups right now, but the footage was shot decades ago. Most seals aren't clubbed, either; they're killed with a single bullet. They are, however, often dragged across the ice with a large hook after they are killed, and that doesn't look very nice on TV.

Seals are not skinned alive. This one doesn't even make sense. A sealer who's just after an animal's skin would not risk damage to the skin by trying to take it off a living animal if a whack on the head would stop the flailing. (See, PETA doesn't have a monopoly on gruesome discussions.)

But this is not and never was about the facts. That baby seal on a pristine ice floe is a pretty amazing image, and blood shows up really well on ice. All of the killing takes place in a few weeks, so the corpses pile up quickly. The sealers never had a chance once PETA figured out they could use whitecoats to raise money.

You see, there are many, many animals that are treated worse than seals. They live terrible lives and die terrible deaths. I'm thinking specifically of chickens, but any animal that lives on a large farm will do. Chickens don't bring in donations. City people eat chickens. They don't want to hear about their sweat-shop eggs. It's much easier to ask Newfoundlanders to give up their livelihood than to stop eating eggs.

Did you know that live male baby chicks are thrown into grinders and turned into food for other animals? Did you know that chickens will literally peck each other to death? Did you know that they live in horrendous conditions and that blood pours all over the slaughterhouse floor? Yeah, that's pretty horrible, and it all really happens. It's too bad they're not pretty on TV, and it's too bad that you could actually do something about it by just refusing to eat chicken or eggs instead of giving money to an animal-rights organization. Obviously, chickens can't be the face of a fundraising campaign.

PETA is not trying to be fair. They never are. They are trying to get you to donate money, so they can hire more staff to convince you to donate even more money. It's all about self-interest, and I don't blame them for wanting more money. I want more money, too. I only blame them for lying to you.

PETA has some good ads. I especially like the ones that are obviously supposed to be funny, like this series. They're well-written and make you think. The sealing ads, on the other hand, are not about making you think. If you actually thought about the sealing hunt, you would realise that PETA's been lying to you for years, and you would stop giving them money. They can't have that.

4 comments:

Way Way Up said...

I can understand why PETA would want people to adopt animals. According to petakillsanimals.com, PETA has a horrendous track record with animal adoption out of their organization.

Jackie S said...

Your chicken analogy reminds me of Fast Food Nation.

Harsh movie. Very harsh.

Ben Holsapple said...

Wow...am I the only one who, after following that PETA link, is waiting for the mocking version where a doctor walks in on a new mother while she's taking her first look at her newborn child, and plops a dead orphan on her lap?

Anyone? No? OK.

Megan said...

I think that ad series is supposed to be satire. It's clearly ridiculous, and doesn't pretend to be anything else. It's not the same as the sustained propaganda campaign they're running about seals.