PETA’s Latest Stunt May Be Their Most Offensive Yet



If you ever want to unite people from all walks of life, all backgrounds, all ideologies and political affiliations, show them the latest crappy promotion that PETA is doing. Watch libertarians and Marxists; anti-racist activists; feminists; macho cowboys; conservatives; liberals and progressives; meat-eaters; vegetarians; and vegans of all ethnic, religious and socio-economic stripe and all ages trash PETA because they’re horribly exploitative. This time, they decided to cash in on the humanitarian crisis of the Detroit Water shut-offs to recruit new vegans.

While the city has put a temporary moratorium on shutting off water for residents under intense media and international scrutiny, the problem is not over for hundreds of thousands of families who are still facing rising costs. Their bills have not been forgiven, they’re just given some time to find the money. Detroit and Michigan (and make no mistake, this is Michigan’s baby) are not really helping, they’re more-or-less delaying the inevitable for the vast majority of families. This will continue to happen if they don’t forgive these bills and drastically reduce others. People will find themselves without water soon.

But don’t you worry! Mighty PETA is here to protect you, Detroit. Ten lucky families will be selected to have their entire back bills forgiven… IF they choose to try a vegan diet for one month. But don’t worry, families of Detroit. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals knows it’s hard for people, let alone families, let alone families struggling to pay bills, surrounded in communities where many if not most of the residents are also in similar boats of un- or underemployment, to go vegan. Vegan is, after all, a lifestyle. A will which, if one is not born into a culture or family of pragmatic veganism (say, some Hindu communities), is a pretty demanding and difficult change to enter into.

But don’t worry, Detroitians! PETA knows that starting the vegan life ain’t a walk in the park and they’ll even help out.

We’ll also help them get started by giving each family a basket of healthy vegan foods and recipes.

Now, ain’t they sumpin’ special? A whoooole basket. Starter kits are cool and all, except if – like PETA acknowledged in their press release – you don’t have a lot of income and you live in a food desert. It’s not like one can just go to the corner store and buy a month’s worth of seitan.

One of the primary problems with this gimmick (let’s call it what it is) is that PETA could be spreading the animal rights message in a way that isn’t compulsory. They could give a well-needed boost to their image by sponsoring ten families and get their publicity through that. They could have said, “We believe in all animals and people are people too. Access to water is a people’s rights issue.” [That’s for free, PETA! You want more? Email me! I’ll do your PR.] They could still spread their message and not be clueless assholes while doing it.

Think of it this way, if a religious charity said homeless people had to convert in order to receive their services, we’d be mad as hell at them, right? “Try Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, stop smoking, drinking and listening to that foul devil music and we will allow you into our soup kitchen!” No, even some of the worst offenders wouldn’t do that because they’ve found it’s better to persuade through showing than to outright force. As if poor black people aren’t already compelled to do all sorts of acts and jump through hoops for upper-middle class people’s amusement.

If it were just this one time, just this one flub of a classist, racist PR mistake, we could probably look aside. But PETA has a history of being less-than-ethical to ostracized, marginalized people. Some of its most famous campaigns have been about objectifying the female body – not just for the no-fur campaigns centered on lean, white, young models, but also ads and shows where female bodies were displayed as pieces of butchered meat. You know, because apparently to PETA, domestic violence and violence against women in general aren’t things to worry about.

So I don’t think they’re exactly pro-family. And let’s not forget their racist actions. They’ve compared factory farming to the Holocaust and the systemic slaughter of Jewish people. They had people dressed as KKK members passing out leaflets comparing animal hierarchy to the racist domestic terrorists.

It seems they always target woman and minorities for their racist and misogynistic exploitation. So forgive people if we don’t trust their motives. We’re supposed to believe they’re going into Detroit to help black families – or anyone for that matter? Please. PETA needs to be ethical to people.

Meanwhile, if you want to actually help struggling families in Detroit, here’s a link to directly assist paying water bills for families in need. Please share.


When he’s not riding both his city’s public transit system and evil mayor, Jasdye teaches at a community college and writes about the intersection of equality and faith - with an occasional focus on Chicago - at the Left Cheek blog and on the Left Cheek: the Blog Facebook page. Check out more from Jasdye in his archives as well!


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