So, PETA- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They argue animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment upon or exploit for entertainment.
I don't personally wear fur and I am not especially fond of animal experiments. 'Entertainment' can be defined in so many different ways, and I am a carnivore- I enjoy the taste of meat and am not about to give that up.
Experimentation is probably the thorniest of all the issues raised by PETA- animals are used in drug testing and even cosmetics before the companies responsible move on to human subjects. Is there a point to this? Won't humans respond differently to how animals respond? Our physical structure is very similar to that of a monkey's, or a pig's (brain, heart, two lungs, two kidneys, liver, stomach etc), but it is not identical.
Some might argue that where we have convicted murderers, rapists and child molesters locked away, we might as well put them to use in such experiments.
It's certainly tempting. A very easy case can be made for why they deserve it. Of course, you run the risk of a slippery slope with that- at one point do you draw the line? To quote Dostoyevsky- "The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons"
All of which has spun us somewhat away from the purpose of this chapter- what is PETA?
The dry bit is that they are for animal welfare. That's fair enough. The meaty bit (if you'll pardon the expression) is that they are somewhat over the top with their campaigns and make some scary comparisons between human and animal suffering that, in the eyes of many, cheapen the human aspect, rather than raise the animal side of the story.
Their 'Holocaust on a Plate' campaign is one of PETA's low points. Yes, the plight of battery chickens is not great. Yes, the poor things suffer, and this should not be allowed. But to compare this to what the Nazis did to the Jews is beyond awful. Their campaign, in this reader's opinion, demeaned human suffering and it did bring condemnation down upon them for their ill-thought actions (to see details of that campaign, look here: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2008/05/05/petas-holocaust-on-your-plate-campaign/ be warned, it's not pretty).
PETA did issue an apology for this particular campaign, but it wasn't really an apology: http://old.nationalreview.com/smithw/smith200505060923.asp
So, what is PETA? It's an organisation that supports animal welfare yet since 1998 has euthanised 90% of the animals it's taken in to its shelters. PETA had reportedly given thousands of dollars to groups such as the Animal Liberation Front (an organisation that's registered as a domestic terrorist group in the US, and that had carried out arson attacks and death threats). PETA is against animal research that could lead to cures for AIDS and cancer.
So, PETA is an organisation that speaks of welfare and rights but is quite prepared to cheapen human suffering and trample on human welfare to achieve its goals. If they phone me asking for a donation, I'll tell them I'm giving to charities far more important to me (such as cancer research).