PETA takes a page from the Fred Phelps playbook.

June 3rd, 2009 12:02 am by Kelly Garbato

Update, 6/4/09:

Well, then:

Anti-Abortion Protesters Crash Vigil For Slain Doctor

About 10 members of the Westboro Baptist Church bearing signs with messages like “Baby killer in hell” were an unwelcome presence at a vigil for murdered abortion doctor George Tiller.

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Oh, no, no, no. Just, no:

WICHITA – A national animal rights group plans to erect billboards in Wichita urging people on both sides of the abortion debate to go vegetarian.

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One version of the billboard says, “Pro-Life? Go Vegetarian.” The other says, “Pro-Choice? Choose Vegetarian.” Both feature a photo of three baby chicks.

Lindsay Rajt, campaign manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said the billboards were prompted by the recent shooting death of abortion doctor George Tiller, who was killed Sunday at his church.

“The discussion of the value of life is front and center right now in the public conversation,” Rajt said today.

“We think we would be irresponsible if we don’t talk about how we’re all guilty of extreme cruelty to animals every time we sit down to a meal that includes meat.” […]

Rajt said the timing or content of the Wichita billboards may be controversial.

But, “If our billboards leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth, we just think they might give a thought to what animals feel when they go to the slaughterhouse,” she said.

“We want to remind people that no matter where they come down on the abortion issue, each and every one of us can spare a life every time we sit down to eat.”

Frankly, the actual content of the proposed billboards is rather inoffensive – and downright blasé when compared to 75% of PETA’s other ads. In fact, I think the “pro-life” version is rather cute – and, on a subtle level, calls so-called “pro-lifers” out on their hypocrisy and ethical inconsistencies. The pro-choice one, meh, not so much; it just strikes me as a forced corollary to the “pro-life” billboard. A reach, albeit a harmless one.

But the timing – the timing is beyond crass and tactless. Fuck that shit, it’s downright amoral.

Listen. Anyone who’s been reading this blog for more than a week knows that I view the exploitation of non-human and human animals as equally important – and intertwined in numerous ways, to boot. This isn’t about me elevating the rights of humans above those of non-human animals, as PETA snarkily suggests; this is me expecting those in the animal rights advocacy community, PETA included, to act with a modicum of compassion. Dr. Tiller’s murder – and women’s reproductive rights in general – has little to do, at least on its face, with animal rights. And the link between the domination of women, animals and nature? This really isn’t the time to make it – and even if it were, I wouldn’t trust PETA to build the case. Not with its record thus far on issues involving marginalized groups of humans.

Nor is this even what PETA’s attempting to do with the pro-life/-choice billboards. It’s a sound bite, a publicity stunt, nothing more – and in discussions deserving of nuance, sound bites only hurt and confuse.

When one further stops to consider that our government has branded animal rights “terrorists” The #1 Domestic Threat – while Dr. Tiller’s murderer is being described as anything but – PETA’s actions seem doubly irresponsible. In their utter insensitivity and rush to capitalize on this tragedy, they align us with the fringe “pro-lifers,” the other domestic terrorists, who’ll use any means to achieve their goal, no matter who they harm in the process. There’s all kinds of marginalization going on here, and as always, PETA just piles on.

I, for one, want no part of it. Dr. Tiller’s murder hit me like kick in the gut – an expected kick, which probably makes it far, far worse – and I’ve been mourning him ever since. Not just Dr. Tiller, either, but the many women who, in need of abortions in the later terms of their pregnancies, may find themselves unable to locate a doctor willing to perform the procedure, and suffer or possibly die because of it. Dr. Tiller was only one of a handful – perhaps just three (three!) – of doctors willing to perform abortions in the third trimester, even when the life or health of the mother is at risk. What do we tell those women now? (I doubt “go veg” is much of an answer, *snort*) We may never know how many women Scott Roeder killed on Sunday.

I also mourn for women everywhere – women who are told that their lives, their well-being, is less important than that of a clump of cells or deformed fetus. I’m sick of being a second-class citizen, a sperm receptacle, a walking womb. I’m every bit as human as my husband – and yet, I somehow have less right to health care than he, all by virtue of my lady parts.

I’m also scared – scared of the many “pro-lifers” whose real agenda extends well beyond that of restricting or banning abortion, to nullifying the Constitutional concept of “right to privacy,” banning birth control, and pushing women back into the Dark Ages, barefoot, pregnant, uneducated and completely subordinate to God and her Husband. That thought terrifies me. Christ on a stick, I don’t even believe in a god!

But PETA doesn’t see any of this. No. They don’t see a senseless tragedy, born of misogyny, sperm worship and Christian nationalism. They look at Dr. Tiller’s murder and see an opportunity – one they’ve gotta cash in on, asap, and vocally, too.

I see the animal rights advocacy community’s equivalent of Fred Phelps. I see a fucking disgrace.

(h/t, Feministe; by the by, I’m working on a much longer piece about terrorism and the animal rights and anti-abortion movements, in which I’ll explain some of the above concepts in greater detail. In the meantime, I recommend Cristina Page’s How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics and the War on Sex for more on the so-called “pro-life” movement.)

[Edited to reflect PETA’s tenuous grasp of “animal rights.”]

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One Response to “PETA takes a page from the Fred Phelps playbook.”

  1. Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 21: Campaign WIN/FAIL edition » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    […] (So fun, it is! I never get testy when defending my basic humanity, nosiree!), PETA does it again! Capitalizing on two pieces of anti-choice legislation that were recently signed into law by […]

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