Thursday, May 12, 2005

A little something out of 'left' field (pardon the pun)

For some reason I can't remember, the subject of PETA and GreenPeace came up the other day while going out to lunch so, for me, it seems like perfect timing for Michelle Malkin to point out this group for their new Anti-PETA campaign. For those of you who still hold these groups up as shining examples of honest activists, you may want to stop reading now. For the rest of you who are able to think for yourselves, continue on.

My biggest beefs (again, pardon the pun) with extremist groups like PETA and GreenPeace is the outright hypocrisy they both exhibit. It's one thing to stand up for something you believe in, but it's something else entirely to sacrifice your beliefs to try and prove a point. The whole 'ends justify the means' thing doesn't fly with me when you try to present your group as driven by moral outrage.

Let's look at PETA first. While I've never like PETA that much, mostly due to their insane advertising campaigns, the Penn and Teller: Bullshit episode from a couple years back help push me over the edge. While they claim that any use of animals by humans (and not just testing but guide dogs and pets too) is unnatural and should be stopped there own Vice President takes insulin derived from dogs. Her response, which can be found on several web site, was this:
"I don't see myself as a hypocrite. I need my life to fight for the rights of animals."
This is also the group who supports protests outside of Humane Society clinics that put animals down while itself killing over 10,000 animals between 1998 and 2003 (See They have a lower adoption rate (14% in 2003) than almost every other animal group out there while there percentage of euthanized animals continues to climb (reach 85.9% of animals taken in in 2003). For comparison, the nearby Virginia Beach SPCA adopted out 66% of the animals it took in and even they were lower than some other local shelters.

Then there's the whole supporting extremist animal rights terrorist groups thing. Apparently according to the PETA philosophy it's ok to fire bomb a research lab and put the lives of the workers and emergency personnel in danger, not to mention the people that may be saved by the work being done there as long as an animal is involved.

While I would prefer a non animal related testing system if possible, if it can save human lives to inject a serum into a rat in a lab then I'll have to side with the humans. There are lines that should not be crossed and I believe government regulations are doing a good job in making sure labs follow them.

Some info on most of the above can be found here but you can do a simple Google search to find more examples.

And then there was GreenPeace. My problems with them hail back to their anti-seal hunt days. Being a Newfie myself (although from a mining town with no access to any seals although I did get a pair of seal skinned boots when I was a kid) their attack on our provincial seal hunt made things a bit more personal. There widespread use of both a 1964 film portraying a live skinning and a 1978 film showing a sealer killing a pup, as tools to show the horror of the hunt managed to turn a lot of people off of seal fur and meat.

The problem with both of these films is that they were both staged for the cameras. The sealer in the 1964 film admitted in court to having been paid by the film crew to perform the grisly act and in the case of the 1978 film, the sealer in question (who's authenticity is in question since no one can seem to identify him) is actually shot from several angles (by a single crew mind you) and can apparently be seen waiting for a signal from the film crew to begin his torment of the mother seal.

Besides the video "proof" they also have several photos showing heroic rescues by both GreenPeace co-founder, Paul Watson, and film actress Brigitte Bardot. Once again, this proof is highly contested. In the case of the Bardot pictures, they have been confirmed as having been taken in a studio in southern France and NOT an ice flow off the coast of Newfoundland as GreenPeace had claimed. As for the Watson photos, the actions of the seal (or inaction as the case may be) leads many to believe that the pup in question was actually a stuffed animal.

While the seal hunt disinformation campaign may have cost some people their livelyhoods, my other big problem with GreenPeace has probably cost several thousands of people their lives. Here in North America, we eat genetically modified foods everyday. Usually it's the type things like tomatoes engineered to grow in colder climates, or crops that are more resistant or attractive to certain pests. In developing countries however, campaigns from groups such as GreenPeace have caused relative uninformed governments to reject offers of aid from foreign companies/governments that have developed things like rice that contains many times the nutrients of regular types while also requiring a small fraction of the water to grow. These types of crops should be a Godsend for countries encountering famines, but thanks to the efforts of groups such as GreenPeace, they often sit in warehouses instead.

They like to use scare tactics about how the foods in question are totally untested while ignoring the fact that in the US, GM foods are tested by both the Food and Drug Administration and Center for Disease Control; that's more than most other foods can say. Even barring that, GM foods are essentially a high tech way to continue doing what farmers have done for millennia, selective breed two plants to create a third with the positive characteristics of both, they're just more efficient at it nowadays. Here is a good site for the pros and cons of GM foods.

Essentially my complete and utter hatred for these type of groups, and PETA and GreenPeace in particular comes down to the extremism and the hypocrisy. Once you show yourself willing to break your own rules to try and make the other side look bad then you have to do a lot of work to regain that trust. In an honest organization, if this type of thing happened you would see and major house cleaning occur and a PR campaign to clear the air. These types of organizations, on the other hand, have no problem allowing this false information to stay in the public eye and in fact may often still refer to it (although maybe leaving out some of the original erroneous details) if it suits their needs.

Kind of reminds me of two left leaning political parties here in North America in that regards (I knew I could pull politics into this somehow).

For more info on GreenPeace try here.
For more info on PETA try here.


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