In SEINLANGUAGE, Jerry Seinfeld posed this question: If professional wrestling had not already been invented would you have the foresight to create a multi-million dollar business around steroid-using behemoths in spandex pretending to beat each other senseless? Good question and in my case the answer is probably “no.”
Herein lies part of my affection for America—this country allows people to turn the most ridiculous, arcane interests into multi-million dollar businesses exploiting the vagaries of human personality that exist within a society blessed with too much disposable income. BEAUTIFUL!
This is also how I’ve been feeling about PETA lately. These guys are geniuses. They have taken the compassionate disposition of people towards animals and turned it into a $35 million a year business. They even have the marketing savvy to use scantily clad models to advance their interests. Why didn’t I think of it?
In order to maximize profits for PETA’s directors, PETA is established as a non-profit organization in Delaware with exactly three members. The three members on the board of directors, under Delaware law, are the only people with the right to vote for the board, remove directors for cause and examine the corporate books. BRILLIANT!
Fundamentally, I appreciate the work of animal rights organizations and tree-hugging, spotted-owl saving non-profits. Look, I freely acknowledge that when I go camping their crazy environmental extremism facilitates my good experience. The outdoors is a better place to be, in part, because they fight to protect it—I just don’t want to be one of them. Likewise, as an American, I am damn glad that there are young men and women who want to be Marines. I’m glad that they are willing to hurl themselves into harm’s way on my behalf. My life as an American is better for the work they do—I just don’t want to be one. I, like most Americans, am perfectly happy living at the top of the bell curve or on the windward side of normalcy or the leeward slope of interesting. I’m content to leave the flat plains of “radical” and “cuckoo” to others. But I appreciate what they bring to my life.
It seems to me there are just enough environmentalists and just enough Marines. I don’t need to enlist in either cause; I can simply be thankful for their work and appreciate the fruits of their efforts. We can change the world if we stop trying to change each other.
Now, though, PETA’s greed is jeopardizing their longevity. The business has become the business. PETA is focused on creating awareness for their organization to the exclusion of their core product–animal rights. Records show that PETA placed only one out of every 300 animals in its care in 2008 and killed 95% of the dogs and cats in their care. Rather, they prefer to sell their name as a “seal of approval” to some organizations and extort others with fear tactics. They have attacked MasterCard but developed a revenue producing partnership with Visa. They have attacked IAMS dog food but developed a profit sharing arrangement with makers of holistic pet food. They tell us not to drink milk, wear leather or support medical research on rats, then kill 95% of the animals in their care.
I’m no business man, but even I can tell you if this is PETA’s MO they ought to remain under the radar: identify the target market, keep the profits reasonable and don’t attract undue attention. In my mind, this should probably include NOT chastising the President of the United States for killing a fly. Yes, PETA is over reaching just a teensy bit at this point. And THIS I don’t get. You’ve got Christina Applegate naked and $35 million: why rock the boat?
What I know about animal rights you could fit into a thimble and have room left over for a six-pack. I’m sure animal cruelty takes place and we need to look no further than Michael Vick for evidence. I was blissfully unaware that such barbarism took place and even more blissfully unaware that any moron could defend it by calling it “cultural.” (So was slavery.)
Recently, PETA was protesting the treatment of circus elephants. A PETA worker had spent six months undercover as a stagehand with the circus and made a video tape of elephant trainers striking the elephants with whips and using bull hooks to get them on stage (ed note: I thought trainers just asked the elephants nicely.) I’m not saying this is cruel. I’m not saying it’s not. I’m saying I am not personally worked up about it either way.
What I do get worked up about is hypocrisy. I’m not really down with PETA asking me to care about elephant cruelty while they wantonly disregard the well-being of other animals already in their care.
On the upside, I don’t need to do anything about it: they’re so busy shooting themselves in the foot that a deadly infection is a virtual certainty. In the meantime, let’s see what the NSPCA is up to.