A new month of commentary must begin with an old — but far from tired — topic.
I’m talking about our pals at PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or more accurately, Provocateurs for the Emotional Targeting of their Audience.
Dissecting yet another of the group’s mean-spirited campaigns is necessary because not only has the manipulative management at PETA sold its soul by embracing a truth-be-damned approach to fund-raising — the quintessential modern political strategy — but because they then turn around and pretend they’re totally above petty politics.
That attempt at obfuscation is instantly disproven with the posting of an opinion piece last week by Lisa Lange, the group’s senior VP of communications, titled, “PETA doesn’t care about politics. It just wants to save animals from cruel suffering.”
Lange then proceeds to list all the (mostly women) politicians her group has swayed on such softball stances as not wearing a fur coat as you stroll up to a glitzy theater opening or to your table at an exclusive five-star restaurant.
Wow … talk about a soul-wrenching commitment.
So what’s the latest outrage against which PETA has taken up arms, albeit apolitically?
Don’t even consider such crises as how the opioid epidemic might affect pets whose owners cannot care for them.
Oh, no. Instead, PETA’s waging a war on yet another greedy corporation, in this case PetSmart, ostensibly one of its allies, but not when the unthinkable happens: the 2017 death of a dog following a grooming session at a New Jersey PetSmart location.
In dismissing accusations from critics that concerns about Scruffles, a bulldog that was the alleged victim in this case, were the equivalent of fake news, Lange wrote that, “There’s no faking the heartbroken families whose dogs have been injured or even killed in the grooming rooms of big-box stores like PetSmart.”
Notice how the statement cleverly conflates a single incident into a widespread problem, one, it’s implied, that probably occurs all the time at every “big-box” pet store.
Primary Purpose in Life
In life, as well as in the activist community, progress on issues of substance takes months and years, if not decades. Lifestyle choices and social values don’t evolve overnight.
Yet as columnist Jared Whitley noted in a rebuttal piece on The Daily Beast, even the noblest intentions of nonprofits and advocacy groups — in which PETA always claims membership — often succumb to the need to generate revenue to maintain programming.
For PETA people, however, fund-raising isn’t a necessary evil, it’s their raison d’être, the prime purpose for which they exist.
And on that score, as Whitley wrote, “The key to opening donors’ wallets is outrage. And when there isn’t sufficient real injustice to keep money rolling in, unethical organizations manufacture it and lie to the media, which is all too happy to go along with this stagecraft (or outrage craft).”
The litany of absurd, self-serving and downright scandalous stunts that litter PETA’s resume is too lengthy to recount here, but this latest crusade against PetSmart, and by extension, all other corporate pet stores, is simply another in the unbroken chain of “outrageous” stories the group leverages to gin up its affinity base and keep the contributions rolling in.
In his attack piece, Whitley called for PETA to be “euthanized,” which while mildly humorous, merely stoops to the in-the-gutter tactics with which animal activists have grown increasingly enamored.
Forget the fact that PetSmart has more positive impact on actual animals by providing pet owners with proper information on the care and feeding of their companions than all of the over-the-rhetoric PETA has ever spewed.
A better approach to countering the group’s endless outrage is actually quite simple.
Stop typing in your credit card number when they whine about needing more money to end the cruelty, free the animals, turn the world to vegetarianism and lower humanity’s legal and moral status to that of a litter of rats.
That’s how you end the suffering, the suffering the rest of us have to endure from the country’s most egregiously self-serving bunch of pretenders.
Editor’s Note: The opinions in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and commentator.