People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has stooped to a new low. Yes, that is a regular occurrence, but the latest plea for attention from the radical animal rights group seems, well…way out-of-bounds.
A new PETA billboard ad designed to capture the attention of New Yorkers contains a play on words that many believe goes beyond offensive – an unwelcome joke about sexual assault.
Both the ad and PETA’s blog post reference the looming presidential election, which it must assume gives it license to use a headline that blares a line from Donald Trump revealed prior to the second debate in the leaked 2005 Access Hollywood video. “Grab a (p-word)!” the headline screams.
Below that headline is an adorable photo of a cat with a plea to “Adopt a cat from your local shelter.”
Candidate Trump’s comments were called lewd, with many suggesting he was describing an act of sexual assault. That’s why many – including some PETA supporters – are calling this new adopt-a-cat campaign over-the-top.
PETA shared an image of the controversial billboard on Twitter and immediately received 2,000 likes. But it also garnered a variety of criticism. One person claiming to be a financial supporter of PETA wrote: “I love and support your work and I implore you to please take this down and apologize for it. This joke is highly insensitive.”
PETA responded with a series of tweets, unflinching in its decision to use Trump’s wording for promotional gain, saying in part, “We took something hideous and made it into something good. Outrage is not enough, action is everything. We hope this word twist will lead ppl to open their minds to the crisis facing animals & open their homes to cats in shelters.”
The critic replied: “And instead you’ve triggered victims of sexual assault and deterred even more people from listening to what you have to say.”
Other Twitter users accused PETA of perpetuating rape culture with their attempt to make light of Trump’s utterance.
“Yes Peta. Let’s take this time to use sexual abuse as a marketing gimmick to adopt cats. Way to Go,” wrote one Twitter user.
Another user wrote, “I am a proud vegan and animalist but using rape culture to promote your work is terribly wrong.”