Summary: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claims it’s the “largest animal rights organization in the world.” But scandal after scandal has revealed a disturbing record of hypocrisy that’s left tens of thousands of household pets dead in PETA’s kill rooms. The carnage is the product of a radical ideology that values animals more than humans—and it’s prepared to go to any length to prove it.
Links to Violent Extremism
Watson has a rough history. The Canadian has been arrested numerous times since the 1970s for violently protesting fishing boats in Canada and Newfoundland, and was even charged with attempted murder in 2002 by Costa Rican officials. In the early 2000s, Japan declared him an eco-terrorist for harassing Japanese whaling vessels, to which Watson said, “There’s nothing wrong with being a terrorist, as long as you win. Then you write the history.” His extremism led Interpol to declare Watson an internationally wanted fugitive in 2012, but he managed to obtain political asylum in France before returning legally to the U.S. in June 2016.
While Watson is perhaps the most extreme advocate of the animal liberation movement, it can be argued that the supposedly mainstream organization PETA—which often silently encourages extremism with its own publicity stunts and broad calls for action—effectively enables such eco-terrorism. PETA has disturbing connections with the sister groups Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF), groups the FBI labeled domestic terrorist organizations in the 1990s.
ELF’s activists may collectively call themselves “Elves,” but Kris Kringle elves these are not. In 2006, eco-terrorist Eric McDavid and two associates met in a remote California cabin with supplies to create explosives intended for a bombing campaign. They were intercepted by the FBI. According to the Bureau, eco-terrorist and animal rights activists are responsible for over 2,000 crimes in the U.S. since 1979 costing some $110 million in damages to businesses and individuals. And they’re still active: both ALF and the “Elves” still operate as leaderless cells across the country. Two of their number—Joseph Mahmoud Dibee and the vegan Josephine Sunshine Baker—are still listed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list of domestic terrorists for a combined thirty-four counts of arson and destruction.
In April 2001, the right-of-center Center for Consumer Freedom exposed a $1,500 donation from PETA to ELF, nearly six years after the group was accused of perpetrating a string of firebomb attacks—the latest of which occurred less than a month after PETA’s donation and caused $7 million in damages to the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture. The Center also discovered a $70,200 donation for the defense of ALF eco-anarchist Rodney Coronado, who conducted similar firebombing attacks at universities in Michigan, Washington, and Oregon. PETA made smaller donations in 1999 and 2000 to other ALF activists.
And according to a 2001 report by the FBI, which monitored PETA for extremist activity, the group provides “what can be considered at least tacit support for the [Animal Liberation Front] and its illegal activity.”
In 2012, the website Humane Watch, which monitors animal rights extremists, uncovered archived issues of No Compromise, a magazine in operation from 1989 to 2005 that described itself as “The Militant, Direct Action Newspaper of Grassroots Animal Liberationists & Their Supporters.” No Compromise, which tacitly supported the eco-terrorists with calls to “direct action” and ALF t-shirts, regularly “receive[d] and disseminate[d] communiques” from ALF members.
Misanthropes and Mobsters
But PETA has its own brand of extremist messaging. Take it from Bruce Friedrich, PETA’s then-director of vegan campaigns. At the July 2001 Animal Rights Convention, the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center recorded Friedrich saying:
If we really believe that animals have the same right to be free from pain and suffering at our hands, then of course we’re going to be blowing things up and smashing windows.… I think it’s a great way to bring about animal liberation, considering the level of suffering, the atrocities. I think it would be great if all of the fast-food outlets, slaughterhouses, these laboratories, and the banks that fund them, exploded tomorrow.
I think it’s perfectly appropriate for people to take bricks and toss them through the windows…. Hallelujah to the people who are willing to do it.
The assembled representatives from ALF, ELF, and the related group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty applauded his words. They then handed out t-shirts reading: “Words Mean Nothing … Action is Everything!”
It’s a good slogan for a group that’s seemingly never encountered a form of animal rights extremism it didn’t like. Over the years, the animal rights group has become infamous for producing controversial advertisements comparing stories of rape and sexual assault with artificial cow insemination, depicting a meat industry marketer confessing his “sins” before an unforgiving Catholic priest, claiming “To animals, all people are Nazis,” and showing objectifying images of female celebrities like Pamela Anderson with the message “Go vegetarian.”
In August 2009, PETA seized on the stabbing, decapitation, and partial cannibalism of a 22-year-old man in Winnipeg, Canada, to produce an advertisement “meant to spur people to think about the terror and pain experienced by animals who are raised and killed for food,” the group said in its statement. “Manitoba,” the advertisement read, “An innocent young victim’s throat is cut… His struggles and cries are ignored… The man with the knife shows no emotion… The victim is slaughtered and his head cut off… His flesh is eaten. It’s still going on!”
In June 2009, the group released an anti-fishing comic book for children entitled, “Your Daddy Kills Animals!” The books asks kids to “[i]magine that a man dangles a piece of candy in front of you. As you grab the candy, a huge metal hook stabs through your hand and you’re ripped off the ground.” Asked if they were going too far with a comic book that warns kids that their fathers are “hooked on killing defenseless animals,” Bruce Friedrich told CNN that “kids like hyperbole… this is the sort of the thing that appeals to them.” “If you wouldn’t hook a dog through the mouth and drag the dog behind your car,” Friedrich said, “you should no more hook the fish through the mouth and drag the fish behind your boat.”
PETA’s publicity stunts regularly plumb the depths of absurdity. In September 2015, the group filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against wildlife photographer David Slater for a photograph “selfie” taken by, of all things, a black crested macaque using his camera in 2011 in Indonesia. Since ownership of the photograph defaulted to whomever captured it, and the macaque could hardly claim ownership, Wikipedia editors posted it as belonging in the public domain despite Slater’s ownership claims. Taking it further, PETA sued Slater for using the image in a self-published book… on the grounds that the macaque is the rightful owner of the photograph. After two years of legal battles in federal court Slater settled with PETA, agreeing to donate 25 percent of any future revenues derived from the monkey selfie to animal rights nonprofits.
As PETA gloated on its website, “Everyone deserves the rights we hold dear: to live as they choose, to be with their families, to be free from abuse and suffering, and to benefit from their own creations.”
In the next installment of Slaughterhouse Rules learn how PETA’s “ethical” treatment of animals includes euthanasisa.