COLUMN: PETA crossed another line

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals tweeted Dec. 5 that people should stop using “anti-animal language,” and they labeled such a thought as social justice. 

One of the suggestions was that instead of saying, “Kill two birds with one stone,” we should say “Feed two birds with one scone.”

Following up on the post, PETA also tweeted, “Just as it became unacceptable to use racist, homophobic, or ableist language, phrases that trivialize cruelty to animals will vanish as more people begin to appreciate animals for who they are.”

Not only are PETA’s suggestions hilariously and silly, they aren’t needed. Changing traditional phrases to new, cuter ones is not going to stop factory farming or animal cruelty. 

If they would have stopped with just their inane chart, then it really would not have been enough for me to actually care. PETA often makes fools of themselves online. The issue with its statement is that they compared uttering the phrase “beating a dead horse” to real-life, everyday racism, homophobia and ableism. 

These aren’t even close to the same things. The main two things PETA uses its activism to combat are animal testing and the meat industry. While I agree that both of these things are a problem, they aren’t social problems. They’re systematic issues that cannot be solved with a simple change of language. Bigotry against people is entirely different. 

While oppression of individuals is absolutely systematic, there is also a huge social aspect to it. Normalizing negative phrases against oppressed people, such as “that’s so gay," actually has an effect on how people are viewed by their bosses, coworkers, friends and family.

PETA has a history of inappropriate comparisons between historical tragedies and factory farming. In one such instance they compared pigs in the slaughterhouse to victims of the Holocaust. Needless to say, comparing pigs that are being killed for food — regardless of the issues of the industry — to a genocide that wiped out millions of people is completely uncalled for. 

Another ill-advised PETA advertisement campaign was an image of a black woman, Rozonda Thomas, naked, covered in body paint and sitting in a cage. This is a double whammy, as it employs both sexism and racism. The comparison of black people and animals has a long and extremely racist history, and it has no place in advertising. There’s also the fact that PETA feels the need to compare women to animals. Which they do ... a lot.

In theory, the ideas that PETA has are actually pretty good. The world does have a problem with factory farming and with cruel animal testing, but the organization goes about changing things the entirely wrong way. Trying to fix one social issue is not an excuse to piggyback onto the anger caused by other problems. The comparison is at best tacky and at worst actively terrible. 

If you support the ethical treatment of animals, consider placing your support in local farms, no-kill shelters or politicians who have similar views. These things can actually bring about direct change and leave the bigotry out of it. 

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