PETA: Controversy or Necessity

PETAs  logo

PETA’s logo

Elena Naze, Chief Editor

PETA, also known as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has had a history of controversial programs, stances, and approaches to the animal rights movement. The Chieftain Press talked with Melissa White, a PETA representative to see if they really are as bad as they seem.

PETA’s controversial tactics have included everything from a disturbing video on clothing to accusing famed (and now deceased) zookeeper Steve Irwin of harassing animals. When asked why PETA does some of these tactics, White responded by saying, “PETA’s purpose is to stop animal suffering, and we use all available opportunities to reach millions of people with powerful messages.” She went on to say how they find people respond more to their “more proactive actions.”

Many organizations do strange things to get attention. For instance, look at Wendy’s Twitter account. They make fun of their followers and their competitors. Or look at Duolingo, who made an April Fools prank introducing owls (their mascot) who come to you in real life and make you practice your language. But at the end of the day, those are all just harmless fun. Attacking people for eating meat, publicly going after celebrities, and having “naked marches” might not be solving things.

A shock factor is something that is known, and designed, to get people’s attention. But it’s also supposed to bring their attention to something bigger. Are those controversial messages really bringing people’s attention to the legitimate issue that is animal rights?

White said that PETA has achieved many victories, most recently working with Panda Express to add more vegan options to their menu. And at the end of the day, despite PETA’s vicious tactics, they do put animal rights into the media. It’s just up to everyone else to investigate for themselves about the best policies for animals, but at least PETA will give them a starting point.