While the planet burns, war rages in the Middle East, and economic instability creates epidemics of poverty and homelessness, PETA – the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have decided that the most important issue of the day is Beyoncé’s leather and snakeskin outfit she wore at the Super Bowl last weekend.
The organization told E! News, “We would take a bet that if Beyoncé watched our video exposés … she’d probably not want to be seen again in anything made of snakes, lizards, rabbits, or other animals who died painfully….Today’s fashions are trending toward humane vegan options, and Beyoncé’s Super Bowl outfit missed the mark on that score.”
Firstly, there’s absolutely no way of knowing whether the cows, snakes and iguana’s that died to make Beyonce’s barely existent outfit did actually die a painful death. For all anyone knows, they could have been gently put to sleep by lethal injection. And secondly, doesn’t the organization have better things to do than single out celebrities for wearing animals made clothes?
Don’t get me wrong, PETA does some very good work. The organization usually focuses its attention on large corporations and shames them into changing some pretty appalling practices. They’ve gone after McDonalds, KFC, Wendy’s, and Burger King, and they have done incredible work exposing the animal-testing industry. PETA’s tactics include buying shares giant corporations like Kraft Foods to exert influence over the companies policies. Their commitment to stopping cruelty towards animals is praiseworthy, and unless you are a sadist, a very good thing. Sitting through a PETA video on animal cruelty is not for the faint of heart and would make anyone think twice about where their food comes from and how it got there.
But PETA takes a position on animal treatment so extreme that it forces people to pick sides. I don’t want to be involved with any ill treatment of animals, but I also don’t want to be involved with an organization that equates animal slaughter with the Holocaust, tries to argue that captive Orca’s at Sea World should be protected under the 13th Amendment, and believes an outfit worn by Beyoncé warrants serious attention. I understand that animals feel pain, but I am more concerned with human pain for one pretty obvious reason – I’m human. I’m sure a dog would be more concerned about the pain of another dog than I would be, and that’s fine. After all, it’s a dog.
I wear leather shoes on occasion, own a sheepskin rug, and eat beef, chicken, fish and pork. Sure, I don’t know how the animals used for my lifestyle or dietary habits died, but I have to confess that it doesn’t keep me up at night. When I watch a video on animal cruelty, that would certainly have an impact. When I see PETA lashing out at Beyonce, it does the opposite.
As far as the killing of animals goes, I’m for it if the animal is actually used for food or clothing. I don’t advocate painful deaths, but then again, death in the animal kingdom generally is pretty painful. I don’t see PETA out in the plains of Africa petitioning prides of Lions to stop the brutal deaths of Zebras and Water Buffalo. These poor animals are chased down, dragged through the dirt or water, strangled and ripped apart while still alive. The cow used to dress Beyoncé on the other hand was knocked unconscious with and electric shock of 300 volts and 2 amps to the back of the head, and killed almost instantaneously by being strung upside down and having its carotid artery and jugular vein cut. I know which way I’d prefer to go.
PETA’s attacks on celebrities are not without reason – they obviously calculate that they can raise awareness about issues by going after popular figures that have influence over millions of people. They have gone after Beyoncé before for wearing fur, and have blasted celebrities like Kate Moss, Paris Hilton and Victoria Beckham for wearing animal clothing in public. Which is fine if you accept that there is something wrong with it – and most people don’t.
PETA founder and professional agitator Ingrid Newkirk stated in 2002 that:
“Our goal is total animal liberation, and the day when everyone believes that animals are not ours to eat, not ours to wear, not ours to experiment [on], and not ours for entertainment or any other exploitive purpose.”
Given human’s have been keeping themselves warm with animal skins for over 170,000 years, Newkirk may be waiting rather a long time.
And to be fair, it’s debatable whether Beyoncé’s outfit actually counts as clothing, so there probably weren’t too many animals that died making it….
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.