By Scott Tibbs, June 25, 2008
Last week, I criticized the tactics of some hippies who were arguing that eating animals is no different, morally, from cannibalism. One thing I didn't address in my article is an obvious and legitimate question: how is the PETA protest different from protesting abortion by holding pictures of aborted babies, something I have done on many occasions in front of Planned Parenthood and across the street from the Sample Gates?
It is important to note that my specific criticism of PETA's tactics is the silliness of the protest - the "street theater" of two women wearing nothing but briefs laying on huge Styrofoam trays pretending to be meat on in a supermarket's meat department. Tactics like this do little to convert anyone to PETA's religious beliefs regarding eating meat. Instead, they are more likely to be mocked and ridiculed.
The comparison would be more relevant had PETA been holding pictures of animals abused in "factory farms", the results of experiments on animals at a biomedical research facility, or animals abused in illegal dogfighting operations. In such cases, the pictures would be shocking but would serve to educate people about something that PETA thinks should be illegal or more harshly punished. Pictures of aborted babies also serve to educate and/or remind people of what an abortion really is: the willful, intentional killing of an innocent human life.
One of the things I dislike about the silly, cartoonish tactics used by PETA (such as the "I would rather go naked than wear fur" protests) is that it takes serious issues of animal welfare and reduces it to a circus. While I vehemently disagree with PETA about the morality of eating meat or biomedical research, animal welfare issues deserve to be addressed in a more serious way than PETA often does. For example, given that it is no longer necessary in Western society to use animal skins for warmth, should we be concerned about killing animals for their fur, especially given the way some of these animals are killed? The focus of this protest should be the welfare of the animals killed, not the fools who decide they want to parade naked in public.