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 Post subject: Thoughts on anti-PETA editorial
PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 7:24 pm 
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Hey, guys. Check out this editorial written by the president and CEO of the St. Louis Zoo for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about a month ago. There is a lot of gross assumption and oversimplification of animal rights and animal welfare in it. I'm interested to get your thoughts.

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ANIMALS: PETA isn't as animal-friendly as you think
By JEFFREY P. BONNER

06/27/2005

Apart from what you read on their editorial and opinion pages, newspapers report facts. Those facts are conveyed principally through words. Therefore, newspapers have a special obligation to use words with precision.

The Post-Dispatch recently ran a story that described People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as an "animal welfare" organization. I think that zoo professionals and, for that matter, representatives of PETA would disagree vehemently with the characterization.

PETA is an animal rights organization, not an animal welfare organization. There's a big difference.

The philosophy of animal rights says, in essence, that animals have the same rights as humans: For example, we don't keep other humans as slaves, so we shouldn't keep dogs as pets, and zoos should not confine exotic animals that are threatened with extinction. All medical testing on animals should be banned. Because we don't kill and eat human beings or use human byproducts for food, we should ban the consumption of all meat and other animal products, including milk and eggs. We don't use human hides for clothing, so we should not use leather for shoes, fur for coats or even the silk from silk worms for blouses.

Animal welfare organizations, including reputable zoos like ours, are deeply concerned with the physiological and psychological health and well-being of animals, but they also are concerned with the welfare of animals in the wild. Animal rights adherents contend, in sharp contrast, that as long as animals are in the wild, their rights are not being violated by humans.

The second profound difference between an animal welfare group such as the St. Louis Zoo and an animal rights group such as PETA is that zoos care about the fate of entire species, whereas PETA focuses on individual animals. This allows them to argue that it is better for a species to become extinct than for individual members of that species to be preserved in zoos.

For animal welfare groups, extinction is the ultimate cruelty, and it is no small irony that in the majority of cases, animals go extinct because of the direct actions of humans. Animal rights groups, therefore, should be concerned with extinction in the wild. Tragically, they are not.

I think that animal rights groups and animal welfare groups both care about animals, but they represent two very different philosophies. If you are a supporter of PETA, you support an animal rights group that does not care about the fate of animals in the wild and does nothing to stop the loss of species worldwide. If you are a supporter of the St. Louis Zoo, you support an animal welfare organization that provides outstanding care for animals in the Zoo and devotes enormous amounts of time, energy, expertise and money to saving wild things in wild places.

By the way, unless you are a vegan, don't own a pet, wear only plastic shoes and are willing to forego insulin if you ever become diabetic, you either do not embrace the real animal rights philosophy or you are a hypocrite.

I, for one, hope that people never consider PETA an animal welfare organization. It most certainly is not.


Jeffrey P. Bonner is president and chief executive of the St. Louis Zoo.
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My thoughts ...

1) The animal rights movement encompasses some aspects of the animal welfare ideology and to say PETA does not care about the welfare of animals is offbase (Consider PETA's campaigns for improved animal welfare conditions within slaughterhouses used by fast-food companies - McDonalds, Wendy's, KFC - for example. This is not to eradicate meat products sold by the chains but rather, and very realistically, focus on making things a little better for animals.)

2) "The philosophy of animal rights says, in essence, that animals have the same rights as humans." ZOUNDS! Out of control, Mr. Bonner, out of control. Animals should be given the same basic rights as humans, taking into consideration their physical and mental limitations. That is, to wit, the right to life without unnecessary exploitation. But not, say, the right to vote, own a home or drive a car.

3) "We don't use human hides for clothing, so we should not use leather for shoes, fur for coats or even the silk from silk worms for blouses." No. Animal rights are irrespective of human rights. It's not BECAUSE we don't do this to humans, we shouldn't do this to animals. It's because this is wrong and causes suffering, we shouldn't do it to any being capable of feeling.

4) "Animal rights adherents contend, in sharp contrast, that as long as animals are in the wild, their rights are not being violated by humans." Where did this come from? Why do people think animal rights folk are totally against interspecies relation of any kind, ie owning dogs, etc? Bizarre.

5) "By the way, unless you are a vegan, don't own a pet, wear only plastic shoes and are willing to forego insulin if you ever become diabetic, you either do not embrace the real animal rights philosophy or you are a hypocrite." Mr. Bonner fails to recognizes two things here: A) Veganism is not about personal purity; it's about reducing suffering and B) Philosophies are as broad and diverse as the people who adhere to them. To say that anyone who doesn't follow all tenets of the supposed monolithic animal rights movement is a hypocrite is like saying any Republican who supports abortion isn't a 'real' Republican or any Democrat who questions the future of Social Security isn't a 'real' Democrat.

"Therefore, newspapers have a special obligation to use words with precision." I suggest you do the same, Mr. Bonner. Hehe.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 7:46 pm 
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I think that zoos are concerned more with the animals in the zoo, not the species unless you consider some zoos have breeding programs and then release animals into the wild which i think merits support. Putting wild animals on display I do not agree with, but on the other hand if they were not taken out of the wild jsut to be thrown into a zoo, is there really harm? The animals at the zoos I have been at are not coerced to appear for people though some of the environments for animals at the San Diego Zoo I thought were very small and didnt allow the animals any privacy nor the running room they have in the wild. I suppose what i am getting at is that I dont really care for zoos. They do provide animals with an ersatz environment, but yet I think that the species rehabilitation they do is good work. So shut down half of the zoo! I do think that the zoo keepers do care for the animals and would not want harm to come to them.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 10:55 pm 
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three quarters of all animals in zoos are not endangered. they are there for human ammusement. most of the animals with a higher level of cognative ability live in a constant state of distress, as well as most animals in aquaria.

peta, whilst good intentioned, get on my nerves. they regularly compromise their stance by persuing animal welfare campaigns. also another compromise to their credibility is their ongoing use of celebrities who are vegetarian (or in some cases not even that).
i think that they actually do more harm to animal rights cause than good. what we need is a more uncompromising organisation that has abolitionism at the top of its agenda, with it paying lip service to trendy celebs who are vegetarian this week, or who decided fur is bad, because their agent told them so.

jonathan

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 11:08 pm 
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Those are some good points, Jonathan. I think it's important to have dissent within the movement so that no single organization has a monopoly on it; it keeps our advocacy sharp. Although I, too, believe PETA is well-intentioned, I have a problem with how they exploit women to prove that exploiting animals is wrong. There is also a lot of emphasis placed on ephemeral celebrity gossip, you're right; I'm not sure that has a lasting effect on impressionable minds.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 2:45 am 
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brendan wrote:
I have a problem with how they exploit women to prove that exploiting animals is wrong. .


I agree with what you said about dissent in the movement keeps it in check - kind of like having a minorty/opposition government in place.

However, this notion about PETA exploiting women irritates me. The women in PETA "I 'd rather go naked than wear fur campaign" did the campiagn because they CHOSE to do so - they chose to use their bodies and there sex appeal to get an anti-fur message out. And, furthermore, wasnt there men that have done similar "sexist" anit-fur ads for PETA? The guy from the young and the resless soap opera comes to mind. If these celebs want to lend their bodies for an anti-fur message, I have no problem with that and I dont think PETA is being sexist for "exploiting" these volunteers.


Having said that, I dont think the "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" campaign was the most effective of their campaigns, and the slogan probably confused people. A better slogan that PETA used, with actress Charlize Theron's face, is the "If you woundnt wear your dog, then why would you wear fur?" campaign. Now this slogan in my opinion captures the point more effectively and there is nothing confusing about it. It is plain and simple and something that all pet parents/guardians can relate to.

Lastly, I agree with everything Jonathan said about zoos. Most zoos are not "progressive " at all but rather simply a more subtle form of animal exploitation and cruelty. Zoos will tell you all this crap about how they exist for purposes of public education of animals and research about animals. That's all bull shit. Animal researchers for example would be better able to learn about animals when they are in their own natural habitats. Look at Jane Goodall for example, who studied chimps for many years, but not in a "zoo" setting. Sher is one of the world's foremost primate experts.

This reminds me of a stupid commercial that is airing locally for the Toronto zoo. It shows a zoo official with a fake snake, "educating" the viewers/zoo goers about the snake, etc. and then the slogan is "Real animals are more fun." Well, again, this goes back to the problem with humans and their relationship with, and view of, animals. It is all about how animals can make US feel, and what they can do for US. It is rarely about the animals best interests. The commercial says "Real animals are more fun." Well, a zoo with real animals may be more "fun" for people, but it sure as hell aint more fun for the animals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



peace :D


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 10:45 pm 
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compassionategirl wrote:
However, this notion about PETA exploiting women irritates me. The women in PETA "I 'd rather go naked than wear fur campaign" did the campiagn because they CHOSE to do so - they chose to use their bodies and there sex appeal to get an anti-fur message out.


I know what you mean. I think the people who say that PETA ads exploit women must assume that the women who volunteer to be in the PETA ads are idiots who can't think for themselves. I think the opposite is true - the women who choose to be in PETA ads seem to be intelligent, educated, and they are there solely because they chose to be there.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 1:02 am 
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willpeavy wrote:
compassionategirl wrote:
However, this notion about PETA exploiting women irritates me. The women in PETA "I 'd rather go naked than wear fur campaign" did the campiagn because they CHOSE to do so - they chose to use their bodies and there sex appeal to get an anti-fur message out.


I know what you mean. I think the people who say that PETA ads exploit women must assume that the women who volunteer to be in the PETA ads are idiots who can't think for themselves. I think the opposite is true - the women who choose to be in PETA ads seem to be intelligent, educated, and they are there solely because they chose to be there.


Exactly!! I am so glad to hear that somebody agrees with me on this one because it seems that most everybody else thinks that PETA exploits women. I am sorry but I just dont buy it. That's b$#ll sh$t!!


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 8:52 am 
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i am afraid the theory that peta exploit women is entirely true.

a friend of mine, who id rather not name, went to do a photo shoot for some postcards for peta2. she is an international athlete. she assumed that she would be just amongst some fruit and veg or something and her photo would be taken.
they actually asked her to take all her clothes off and pose naked. no warning, just get naked. she refused so they just dolled her up with a stupid amount of makeup instead.

and what is it with there continuing obsession with pamela anderson? she eats bloody fish!

jonathan

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 1:07 pm 
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Hey jonathan,

PETA has also used males in their sexy ad campaigns. So then it might be more accurate to say that PETA exploits "sex". Well, I am afraid that sex sells, so why shouldnt PETA jump on that bandwagon to further the animals message? Generally speaking, I am for almost anything that sells the animals message. :wink: and I have no problem with using sex appeal if that is what will get a male or female meat eaters attention.

but that is just my opinion.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 1:14 pm 
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using sex to sell is fine, but the point that i was making was that my friend was very upset that she was put on the spot and asked to take her clothes off. i think that anyone, who goes in the intention of helping a cause they believe in, would be deeply upset if they were asked to compromise themselves like that.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 1:23 pm 
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jonathan wrote:
using sex to sell is fine, but the point that i was making was that my friend was very upset that she was put on the spot and asked to take her clothes off. i think that anyone, who goes in the intention of helping a cause they believe in, would be deeply upset if they were asked to compromise themselves like that.

jonathan


yes I agree jonathan. That sucked that PETA caught her off guard like that. And i am sorry that she was upset. That sucks. :(

But just to add one thing to my last post, I think people who call PETA sexist are misusing the word "sexism" . Sexism means discrimination on the basis of sex. If PETA is also using men in the same "sexy" way as it uses women in its campaigns, which, as I have said, it does, then there is no dicrimination on the basis of sex and therefore no sexism.

SO I think the problem is that many people (this doesnt apply to anybody on this board - i know you all know what sexism means) mean that PETA exploits sex but are calling this sexist. Exploiting sex doesnt in and of itself make somebody a sexist.

And, like i said above, I have no problem with peta jumping on the sex sells bandwagon, as long as the people who are featured in these ads do so voluntarily, with informed consent, etc.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 1:24 pm 
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it could be summarised to 'peta are exploitative of those who wish to use their status to help them'

jonathan

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 9:33 pm 
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Nudity doesn't even seem like a big deal to me. It might be because I live in a beach town in Florida though, and I see people practically naked in skimpy swimsuits all the time. To me, seeing someone's butt or breasts or whatever else is no different than seeing an elbow or an ankle..


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