Terrorists Amongst Us?
by lyle e
Most everyone we know loves cute little puppies, cute
little kittens, cute little monkeys, cute little squirrels . . . animals are
warm and cuddly and fuzzy and loyal and
. . . . well, they're just nice.
That innate feeling often arouses a sense of loyalty
within us when we hear of an organization with such a high minded name as
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, more commonly referred to as
PETA. Why sure, we think . . . we'll
support an organization with such a noble calling. After all, we like animals.
But, let's take a look at PETA. Is it as high-minded as they would have us
believe? We'll look at what critics
allege is, at best, outlandish and outrageous tactics . . . and then we'll look
at what PETA purports to be. What they
have accomplished (which is a great deal), what their goals are . . . what they
hope to accomplish -
how, and working with whom.
Critics complain that:
This past Christmas, PETA camped outside holiday
performances of The Nutcracker and other shows to force its graphically violent
comic book (titled "Your Mommy Kills Animals") into the hands of
unsuspecting children. Denver's Rocky Mountain News classified
PETA's attempt "to manipulate adults by
traumatizing their children" as "despicable." Dr. Jeffrey Dolgan, chief of psychology at Children's Hospital, warned
in the Denver Post: "Some vulnerable kids will not do well with this. It
is potentially very anxiety-arousing. Someone has made a mistake."
Earlier this year, PETA announced its plan to distribute
"Buckets of Blood" to children outside middle schools, high schools,
and KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) restaurants. According to the Associated
Press, these grotesque toys are filled with "fake blood and bones, a
bloodied plastic chicken and a cardboard caricature of a blood-spattered
Colonel Sanders holding a butcher knife toward a terrified-looking
PETA continues to lie in wait outside schools,
distributing misleading anti-dairy trading cards to children as they walk home.
The cards depict children suffering debilitating illnesses and embarrassing
conditions, supposedly as a result of drinking milk. PETA's
campaign is "based on sensationalism" and "a real tragedy,"
according to registered dietitian Deanna Rose. "It targets teenagers who
really are calcium deficient and need to drink their milk."
As recently as last year, PETA's
payroll included a convicted Animal Liberation Front felon who served as the
group's full-time "humane education lecturer." This activist, who has
openly advocated murder and arson, extolled the virtues of meatless eating to
groups of children as young as 12 years old. PETA seeks "total animal
liberation," according to its president and co-founder, Ingrid Newkirk.
That means no meat or dairy but it also means no aquariums, no circuses, no
hunting or fishing, no fur or leather, and no medical research using animals.
PETA is even opposed to the use of seeing-eye dogs.
Locally, President and CEO of the Escondido Humane
Society, Phil Morgan, says, “while I appreciate the concern they have for our
planet and the animals that live on it, it is our view that we are a bit more
of a moderate organization. We’re here
to take care of animals; we’re thankful for people bringing animals to us. Others may be more judgmental than we are . .
. but the general purpose is all the same.
To provide for the animals.”
Who, or What, is
People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals (PETA) is an international nonprofit organization based in Norfolk, VA.
Founded in 1980, PETA operates under the simple principle
that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on,
or use for entertainment. PETA educates policymakers and the public about
animal abuse and promotes an understanding of the right of all animals to be
treated with respect.
There is no question but what PETA is a powerful
organization. Many, however, question
their tactics as well as their "all or nothing" approach.
They seem to have no trouble attracting funding, nor
celebrity endorsements. Their financial
statements as of 7/31/03 show Income of $24,082,725.00,
expenses of $21,484,419.00 and a net worth of $ 7,632,195.00
Opponents of PETA (and there are many) point to the high
levels of income and acknowledge that PETA is "by far the most successful
radical organization in America." The key word, they say,
is radical. But where does all that
PETA receives rock-bottom ratings from charity watchdogs.
Charity Navigator, the nation's largest nonpartisan
evaluator of non-profit organizations, gives PETA a rating of one-star
("poor"). It says PETA "fails to meet industry standards and
performs well below most charities in its cause." PETA's
"Foundation to Support Animal Protection" -- now doing business as
"The PETA Foundation" -- was one of just 23 organizations nationwide
to receive zero stars ("exceptionally poor").
PETA collected more than $16 million in donations in 2002
alone, but its opponents argue few donors understand exactly where their money
is going. PETA, they say, spends less than one percent of its $13 million
dollar annual budget actually helping animals. Critics also allege PETA
euthanized (killed) more than 1,300 cats and dogs in 1999 alone, preferring to
spend its money on publicity stunts and legal defense fees for alleged
criminals, rather than finding the animals suitable homes.
The publicity stunts are, however, brilliantly conceived,
produced and efficiently distributed to the media getting maximum
attention. Witness the "Run Pamploma Naked" campaign,
witness the professional models who have posed nude in the "I'd Rather Be
Naked than Wear Furs" campaign, witness the support of Pamela Anderson and
others in a variety of well produced advertising/marketing campaigns.
As to the allegations of PETA's
support of alleged criminals, critics point out that PETA has been a close
supporter for years of militant groups such as the Animal Liberation Front,
(ALF) as well as the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). PETA, their critics say, has used their
contributors' tax-exempt donations to fund the North American Earth Liberation
front, an FBI-certified "domestic terrorist" group responsible for
fire bombs and death threats. They go on
to argue PETA has given tens of thousands of dollars to the legal defense funds
of convicted arsonists "and other criminals." These allegations
appear to be warmly embraced and acknowledged by PETA officials:
"We did it, we did it. We gave $1,500 to the ELF for
a specific program," PETA's Lisa Lange admitted
on the Fox News Channel. PETA has offered no fewer than eight different
explanations of what the "specific program" was, but law enforcement
leaders have noted that since the Earth Liberation Front is a criminal
enterprise, it has absolutely no legal "programs" of any kind.
For instance, in 2003, ELF set fire to an unfinished, 200
unit condominium complex near San Diego. The arson caused $50 million in
damage, and according to a San Diego Fire Captain: "It could have killed
ELF left its calling card in the form of a twelve foot
sign that read: "If you build it -- we will burn it -- the ELF's are mad."
(ALF), a violent, underground group of fanatics who plant
firebombs in restaurants, destroy butcher shops, and torch research labs is
considered by the FBI to be among
America's most active and prolific terrorist groups, but PETA compares it to
the Underground Railroad and the French Resistance. More than 20 years after
its inception, PETA continues to hire convicted ALF militants and funds their
PETA has given $2,000 to David Wilson, then a national
ALF "spokesperson." The group paid $27,000 for the legal defense of
Roger Troen, who was arrested for taking part in an
October 1986 burglary and arson at the University of Oregon. It gave $7,500 to Fran
Stephanie Trutt, who tried to murder the president of
a medical laboratory. It gave $5,000 to Josh Harper, who attacked Native
Americans on a whale hunt by throwing smoke bombs, shooting flares, and
spraying their faces with chemical fire extinguishers. All of these monies were
paid out of tax-exempt funds, the same pot of money constantly enlarged by
donations from an unsuspecting general public.
Most ominously, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk was
involved in the multi-million-dollar arson at Michigan State University that resulted in a 57-month
prison term for Animal Liberation Front bomber Rodney Coronado. At Coronado's sentencing hearing, U.S.
Attorney Michael Dettmer said that PETA's Ingrid Newkirk arranged ahead of time to have Coronado send her a pair of FedEx packages
from Michigan -- one on the day before he burned the lab down, and the
other shortly afterward.
The first FedEx, according to the Sentencing Memorandum,
was delivered to a woman named Maria Blanton, "a longtime PETA member who
had agreed to accept the first Federal Express package from Coronado after being asked to do so by
Ingrid Newkirk." The FBI intercepted the second package, which had been
sent to the same address.
A search warrant executed at Blanton's home turned up
evidence that PETA's other co-founder, Alex Pacheco,
had also been planning burglaries and break-ins along with Rodney Coronado. The
feds seized "surveillance logs; code names for Coronado, Pacheco, and
others; burglary tools; two-way radios; night vision goggles; [and] phony identification
for Coronado and Pacheco."
Shortly after Coronado's arrest, PETA gave $45,200 to
his "support committee" and "loaned" $25,000 to his father
(the loan was never repaid and PETA hasn't complained). Now free from jail,
with an expired parole, and with the benefit of an expired Statute of
Limitations on his many earlier arsons (to which he readily confesses in his
standard stump speech), Coronado stood before a crowd of hundreds of young
people at American University in January 2003 and demonstrated how to turn a
milk jug into a bomb. A few days later, ALF criminals tried to burn down a
McDonald's restaurant in Chico, California, using a firebomb that matched Coronado's recipe.
The following month, Ingrid Newkirk told ABC News that
Rodney Coronado is "a fine young man."
PETA has published a pamphlet, "Activism and the
Law," in which PETA openly offers advice on "burning a laboratory
Perhaps Newkirk's most telling comment, though, came in a
2002 U.S. News & World Report feature. "Our nonviolent tactics are not
as effective," she admitted. "We ask nicely for years and get
nothing. Someone makes a threat, and it works."
Some of the strongest criticism of PETA comes as a result
of their questionable marketing effort to kids.
PETA's website for kids puts a skull and crossbones next to the logo of Disney's Animal
Kingdom. It hands out trading cards to
kids that allege drinking milk will make them fat, pimply, flatulent, and
phlegm-ridden. PETA also sends "humane education lecturer" Gary Yourofsky into high schools -- and even middle schools --
to promote the "animal liberation" agenda. Yourofsky
is a convicted ALF felon who has said he would support burning down medical
research labs even if humans were trapped in the flames. In his speeches to
adolescents, Gary Yourofsky regularly compares
himself to Gandhi and Jesus Christ.
PETA has repeatedly attacked groups like the March of
Dimes, the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the American Cancer Society, for
conducting animal testing to find cures for birth defects and life-threatening
Some quote by and about PETA:
"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, as a movement, blowing things up and smashing windows … I think
it's a great way to bring about animal liberation … 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."
- Bruce Friedrich, PETA's vegan
campaign coordinator, at the "Animal Rights 2001" conference
"Even if animal tests produced a cure for AIDS, we'd
be against it."
- PETA president and co-founder Ingrid Newkirk, in the
September 1989 issue of Vogue
"It may have been ELF, but then, I sometimes get
them confused with ALF, the Animal Liberation Front. And then there's Earth
First! and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals). There's a lot of cross-pollination between them, and some people here
are probably members of two of those groups, or more."
- Santa Cruz Police Lt. Joe Haebe,
speculating about those responsible for a crime spree, in the San Francisco
Chronicle, April 11, 2003
"McVeigh's decision to go vegetarian groups him with
some of the world's greatest visionaries."
- Bruce Friedrich praising Oklahoma City bomber and
mass-murderer Timothy McVeigh, for choosing a vegetarian last meal.
When PETA learned that the photographs of Holocaust
victims displayed in its roving exhibit -- entitled "The Holocaust on Your
Plate" -- included Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie
Wiesel as a young man at the Buchenwald concentration camp, it shrugged.
"Six million people died in concentration camps," laments Ingrid
Newkirk, "but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in
When a grisly killing spree in Vancouver left 15 women dead, PETA tried
to purchase full-page ads in local papers suggesting that this carnage was no
worse than the killing of animals for food.
Disturbing a number of people is the acknowledged liaison
between PETA and the Animal Liberation Front.
This organization consists of small autonomous groups of people all over
the world who carry out direct action according to the ALF guidelines. Any
group of people who are vegetarians or vegans and who carry out actions
according to ALF guidelines have the right to regard themselves
as part of the ALF.
In a memorandum to supporters and potential supporters,
the organization said:
If you are a member of an active A.L.F. cell, send us any
clippings, or your own report, with date, time, place, and a few details about
the action. Send your reports on plain paper, using block capital letters, or a
public typewriter that many people have access to. Wear gloves at all times so
your fingerprints are not on the paper, envelope, or stamp. Do not give your
address, and don't lick the stamp or envelope; wet it with a sponge. Remember
you should expect that all of our mail and any other support groups' mail is
opened and read by the authorities.
Critics argue this is not the type of philosophy any
responsible agency dealing with human or animal rights would support.
PETA's leadership has compared animal
farmers to serial killer (and cannibal) Jeffrey Dahmer.
They proclaimed in a 2003 exhibit that chickens are as valuable as Jewish
Holocaust victims. They announced with a 2001 billboard that a shark attack on
a little boy was "revenge" against humans who had it coming anyway.
All of these allegations by critics, all of the
acknowledged tie-ins with questionable organizations, have gotten plenty of
notoriety for PETA.
But are they effective?
No matter how outrageous their tactics, PETA has
accomplished a great deal in the area of animal rights. They have been responsible for the closure of
the largest horse slaughterhouse in the United States, the closure of a military
laboratory in which animals were shot, and stopping the use of cats and dogs in
all wound laboratories. Us magazine reports, "PETA has had an enormous
effect on the way corporations treat animals."
PETA uncovered the abuse of animals in experiments in
1981, launching the precedent-setting Silver Spring monkeys
case. This resulted in the first arrest and conviction of an animal
experimenter in the United States on charges of cruelty to
animals, the first confiscation of abused laboratory animals, and the first
U.S. Supreme Court victory for animals in laboratories.
PETA released 70 hours of videotape documenting the
appalling treatment of primates at the University of Pennsylvania head injury laboratory,
resulting in government fines and the end of primate use there.
PETA's undercover investigation of a
huge contract testing laboratory in Philadelphia and their subsequent campaign
led to Benetton's permanent ban on animal tests-a first for a major cosmetics
company. Other leading companies, such as Avon, Revlon, and Estée
Lauder, followed suit. L'Oréal, the world's largest
cosmetics manufacturer, yielded after PETA's
four-year international campaign. Gillette announced a moratorium on animal
tests after PETA's 10-year campaign. PETA now lists
more than 550 cosmetics companies that do not test products on animals.
PETA distributed an undercover video showing Las Vegas entertainer Bobby Berosini beating orangutans with a metal rod. The U.S.
Department of the Interior revoked Berosini's
captive-bred wildlife permit, making it illegal for Berosini
to buy or sell orangutans.
PETA's undercover investigation of Boys Town National Research Hospital's experiments in which kittens'
heads were cut into and cats were starved in order to study deafness spurred
the National Institutes of Health to issue a report condemning Boys Town's animal care and use program.
The USDA found that Boys Town failed to comply with the Animal
Investigative work, congressional involvement, consumer
boycotts, and international media coverage frequently result in improvements in
the quality of life for, and saves the lives of,
thousands of animals.
According to The Washington Post ,
because of PETA, "labs have closed. ... Many designers have stopped using
fur. ... Rules, laws have changed." PETA also has held several "Rock
Against Fur" and "Fur Is a Drag" benefit concerts featuring The
B-52's, k.d. lang, and
others. Long-time supporter Paul McCartney invited PETA to set up literature
tables on his world tour.
Supermodels Christy Turlington,
Tyra Banks, and Marcus Schenkenberg,
actor Kim Basinger, and others have posed for our
"I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur" Campaign. PETA also persuaded top
modeling agency Boss Models to announce that its models will no longer wear fur
and received pledges from filmmakers including Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese,
and Rob Reiner to keep fur off movie sets. According
to the San Francisco Chronicle "Protests by groups such as PETA
have hobbled the fur business."(3)
One of the biggest areas of publicity that PETA generated
was over their battle to save the harp seals.
Photos and videos of harp seal pups being beaten to death by fur hunters
enraged animal lovers and has severely impacted the fur trade.
One of PETA's current campaigns
is against KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken).
They argue that KFC should eliminate some of the worst abuses that
chickens suffer on the factory farms and in the slaughterhouses of its
suppliers, including live scalding, life-long crippling, and painful debeaking.
They argue that the more than 700 million chickens raised
each year for KFC aren't able to socialize with other chickens or do the normal
activities of chickens. They claim
chickens are crammed together in unclean facilities, and are treated callously
while leaving and even when being slaughtered. KFC's parent company, Yum
Brands, Inc. has assured PETA that it intended to "raise the bar" on
animal welfare; yet, to date, PETA is not satisfied with the measures KFC has
Clearly, PETA has done a great deal of good for animal
rights. The question appears to be, why
not rely on normal organizational strength rather than take such radical
approaches that alienate people who might otherwise be supporters? Why implement outrageous, outlandish
demonstrations and events that can only repel potential supporters? Why align yourself with organizations such as
ELF and ALF? Organizations
that the FBI has identified as terrorist and criminal organizations?
Critics merely shake their heads in wonder . . . but
still acknowledge that PETA is a powerful force to reckon with. If you wish to contact PETA to express your
views or to ask questions of them, you may reach them at:
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
501 Front Street, Norfolk, VA 23510
Phone 757-622-7382 | Fax 757-622-0457 | Email firstname.lastname@example.org