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Commentary: PETA slaughters cause with antics

Allison Lavelle, LV Life Editor

All publicity is not good publicity, especially when it comes to PETA’s tendency to create it by staging ridiculous stunts.

PETA is an organization that stands up for animals’ rights and claims to have their best interests at heart, but the organization’s over-the-top actions tend to overshadow their good intentions.

PETA filed a lawsuit against SeaWorld, accusing it of violating the Thirteenth Amendment of the Federal Constitution by holding five orcas in slavery or involuntary servitude, and requested that the animals be freed or placed in a habitat that is better for their needs.

The original complaint was placed in October 2011 on behalf of the whales Tilikum, Katina, Corky, Kasatka and Ulises.

On Feb. 8 U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller dismissed the case on the basis that the amendment applies only to humans.

“The only reasonable interpretation of the thirteenth amendment’s plain language is that it applies to persons, and not to non-persons such as orcas,” Miller said.

PETA’s lawyer, Jeffrey Kerr, disagreed with the ruling and said that not including animals under the protection of the amendment is a form of prejudice.

“SeaWorld’s attempts to deny [orcas] the protection solely based on their species is the same kind of prejudice used to justify any enslavement, and prejudice should not be what determines constitutional rights in this country,” Kerr said.

Claiming that the judge’s decision was a form of prejudice and a justification of enslavement is a perfect example of the intense views and actions of PETA.

It is uncontestable that all animals should be treated well, but the tactics PETA uses to gain attention towards animal cruelty are too extreme and cause a negative response from the public.

PETA’s lawsuit against SeaWorld is one in a long list of outlandish publicity stunts.

Just a few of PETA’s previous stunts include equating the American Kennel Club to the Klu Klux Klan, the slaughter of animals for food to the Holocaust, dressing a man in bondage attire and chains to protest the circus and asking Ben & Jerry’s to start making their ice cream with human breast milk instead of cow milk.

Currently available in PETA’s online store are brochures and stickers that say “if you wouldn’t eat your dog…” accompanied by a picture of a puppy and reasons why people should not eat meat. Also in the store is a poster that features a bloody, unrecognizable animal with the slogan “your fur had a face.”

All of these publicity stunts get PETA a lot of attention, but they also give them a negative and desperate image that makes it difficult to take the organization seriously.

Rather than using graphic images, PETA should spend more energy on creating awareness and educating people about animal cruelty and what can be done to help bring it to an end.

PETA should focus their campaigns on facts that are straightforward and informative instead of using shocking, degrading, and offensive images.

While PETA’s tactics have succeeded in bringing attention to the organization, their aggressive methods also alienate potential donators and activists.

Using a more reasonable campaign would attract more people to their cause and make their point of view more accessible.

Allison Lavelle, a senior communications major, is LV Life editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by email at

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