Written by PETA
I wrote about JM Coetzee a little while back, after he gave an amazing speech in Sydney about animal rights and the ethics of industrialized slaughter practices. But the Nobel Prize winner just came through for animals again by writing to the European Parliament on PETA's behalf to ask that they support a ban on bullfighting in Europe. You can read about Coetzee's letter here. The translation's a bit wobbly, but it's a great story. I figure the members of the European Parliament who are unaffected by the Running of the Nudes protest that PETA UK holds every year in Spain will respond to an entreaty from a leading figure in the world of letters. Something for everybody, you know?
Nine Inch Nails has a brand new album out this week: Year Zero has been getting a lot of love from the critics, and it's awesome to see Trent Reznor back in form. And, of course, we're all big fans of Trent here after he took time out of his schedule to narrate our exposé of the cat and dog fur trade in China. You can watch Trent's narration here, but I should warn you that the footage is tough to deal with.
You’ve probably heard some buzz about this album already, since Nine Inch Nails has been using this brilliant viral marketing campaign to get the word out about Year Zero. They are hiding USB drives containing the new songs in cities nationwide and using several mysterious websites (like AnotherVersionOfTheTruth.com and ThePriceOfTreason.net) to give fans some new material and the back story to the new album.
I’m always happy to support artists like Trent who use their celebrity to make a real difference. And it helps when they write kickass songs as well. I'm going to have Head Like a Hole stuck in my head for the rest of the day.
Which, in some ways, why in God's name was a comic-book store selling fur in the first place, but hooray for those early-adopting scene-hoppers over at peta2 for helping to persuade the chain to stop! It's nice to see that they actually do some real work in between hobnobbing with indie-rock icons and droning on about their latest trendy thrift-store "finds".
After peta2 launched their campaign on Monday morning to get the New England music store chain to stop selling animal figurines made from rabbit fur, more than 700 people sent e-mails to Newbury Comics. Within a day, the store's co-owner and founder, Mike Dreese, responded by saying that Newbury Comics has stopped selling products made of fur, and “the last few dozen leftover, unsold pieces [fur figurines] have been removed from our stores this morning.”
Hipsters can accomplish so much when they really put their minds to it. Amazing work, peta2, and everyone who wrote in to the company! Give yourselves a big pat on the back, then go out and buy the new Bright Eyes album as a treat.
Yeah, I know, it's kind of a no-brainer. But the relative cuteness of mermaids versus cavepeople was really hit home to me today when I received images from two different protests conducted by PETA UK yesterday. The first, from a demonstration in Edinburgh to encourage people to cut the fish out of their diets, gets 10 points out of 10 for being just as cute as can be. I frickin’ love those mermaid outfits.
But I don't think this next picture from an anti-Burberry protest (designed to make the point that fur is for cavepeople) would make the cut over at Cute Overload. Still, a pretty striking demonstration, in my opinion.
Anyway, the point of all this is please don't eat fish or wear fur. kthx.
Maybe Britney should stick to her trademark crotch shots, because her new post-rehab look definitely isn’t working for her. Unless of course she’s actually going for the whole "street walker" look, in which case she nailed it. I’m referring to this pic from an article talking about her supposed “comeback”:
I realize the girl has had it rough and the whole teen star aftermath meltdown was inevitable, but now that she’s got a couple of husbands and a stint in rehab behind her, one would think she’d get over her desperate need for attention and ditch the furs. Anyway, if you’d like to send her some inspirational thoughts to help her get over her current fur addiction, you can do that here (click on the star).
And of course, if the furs are fake Britney, I totally take back the whole “street walker” thing. I was just joshing with ya.
Word on the street is that fashion maven Tim Gunn is going to be introducing Dan Mathews at his New York booksigning for Committed: A Rabble-Rouser’s Memoir tonight. If you live in NYC, I highly recommend making the trek to the Chelsea Barnes and Noble at 7 p.m., as any evening with Dan is bound to be, um, interesting to say the least, if this pic from one of his runway takeovers in Milan is anything to go by:
The other dates of Dan’s whirlwind tour are on his MySpace page. Dude has been on MySpace for, like, five months and he already has almost 700 friends, which makes me feel a bit lame, given that my friend list has barely progressed beyond Tom and Princess Cuteyface in three years. Maybe I need to get into the book game.
You know what was sweet? PETA's "Eat The Whales" Campaign. For those of you not familiar with it, the concept behind this campaign was to encourage people who just "can't do without meat" to limit themselves to really, really large animals in order to minimize the number who had to die for their flesh addiction. I always bring that point up when people say "I only eat white meat." As if eating more chickens were somehow better than eating a combination of chickens and cows.
"Eat The Whales" was launched outside the 2001 International Whaling Convention by PETA activists "distributing 'Eat the Whales' leaflets," as the press release puts it, "displaying a colorful 'Eat the Whales' banner, and serving 'whale meat' to nonvegetarians, pro- and anti-whalers alike," and it made (excuse the pun) a really big splash. I've always thought of "Eat The Whales" as one of the best things of its kind that PETA has done. The campaign immediately grabs your attention, because, well, why in God's name would PETA be encouraging people to eat whales? But it also raises some really important questions about the arbitrary lines we draw when it comes to what kind of killing is acceptable to us. Why do some of the same people who get up in arms at the notion of a whaling ship harpooning a whale have no qualms whatsoever about eating a ham sandwich?
I know this one is controversial, and I know that not all animal activists share my enthusiasm for it—but my attitude towards "Eat The Whales" has always been this: I can guarantee you that whether people took it seriously or not (the “whale meat” PETA handed out was vegan after all), there wasn't a single person who actually ate more whale because of the campaign. But a lot of people who were outraged at the very suggestion that anyone would kill and eat these wonderful creatures were also forced to ask themselves whether, just maybe, they shouldn't be eating any animals at all.
Have you seen the stories about the child who died from salmonella he got from a pet turtle? It's so sad, and is yet another reminder of the dangers of keeping turtles in captivity. According to the FDA, there are more than 74,000 cases like this per year, so clearly more people need to hear about it.
And while it's awful that people get sick and all, let’s not forget that keeping turtles in aquariums or cages is certainly no fun for them either. Far from it. The best solution for everyone involved is to simply leave the turtles alone and let them live where they belong, in the wild.
So the next time you see someone selling little turtles in a souvenir shop or in a bodega in NYC (they are super popular in Chinatown), speak up. And remember that it’s actually illegal to sell turtles with shells less than 4” long, so if you spot that, report the place to the authorities.
I know I've said this before, and I don't want to sound fickle, but this time I really mean it: I am very much in love. Holly Madison stars in a reality TV show about the Playboy mansion called The Girls Next Door, which I intend to begin watching immediately. She is also a big animal lover, and—judging from the interview she recently did with PETA—she may be the sweetest person ever. In other, extremely important Holly Madison news, she is naked in this stunning new anti-fur ad. It's just all so overwhelming.
I know I just talked about Year of the Dog last week, but I wanted to mention it again because it looks like it’s really going to be great. It’s getting rave reviews all over the place.
For those of you in New York and L.A., you can see it tonight, but the rest of us will have to wait a while longer, since it’s rolling out everywhere else over the next few weeks. Oh well, the anticipation is half the fun, right? Anyway, the movie's star and director, Molly Shannon and Mike White, did some great interviews with PETA recently, so hopefully these will tide everyone over until the movie comes out. Check it:
Your weekly installment of things I’ve found even slightly funny or interesting on the internet. Here we go . . .
If you know what “counting the omer” is, then you will love this veggie take on the Jewish tradition.
I know it’s a little creepy, but my friend Marta absolutely worships Zach Braff, and she made me post this. I apologize in advance.
Pigs are smart. And cute. Please go vegetarian.
Who says don’t bite the hand that feeds you?
Check out this amazing story about a very unique Canada goose. You've got to wonder if her mate fell victim to a hunter, since these birds normally mate for life.
Kind of cool anti-seal hunt cartoon.
Never, ever, ever forget that when it comes to dolphins and unicorns, dolphins are cuter. I know its kind of old, but I just rediscovered it this week!
And finally, I know this post is supposed to be all about the internet, but this is so cool that I just had to share. Ad agency DDB Warsaw and AMS Outdoor Advertising have teamed up to run this amazing ad all over Warsaw, Poland. It is one of the finalists our Young Guns ad competition.
Nobody can make you feel stupid quite like the French can. They have it down to an art. This picture, from a protest against the Canadian seal hunt in Paris this week, just says so much. I love the juxtaposition of disgust conveyed by the signs, and outright contempt conveyed by the dude wearing a silly beard to look like a sealer. That's how you do a demonstration. Nice work, the French.
You may remember Smithfield Foods' big January announcement that it is phasing out the use of gestation crates, followed shortly by Maple Leaf Foods' decision to follow suit, and Burger King's recent adoption of a new animal welfare plan that includes, among other things, reducing the amount of pig meat it purchases from suppliers that use crates. Well, we just got word from execs at another major pig meat producer (one of the world’s largest, in fact), Cargill Foods—which we had been encouraging to follow Smithfield’s lead—that it's going to come through in a big way: Cargill has stopped using gestation crates in 50 percent of its pig factory farms!
We’re not breaking out the champagne just yet, as the company hasn't agreed to a total phase-out of gestation crates, but this is a firm step in the right direction, and just another positive sign of big changes to come throughout the industry. Of course, PETA doesn't make a secret of the fact that we don’t want any pigs bred or slaughtered for food, but the pigs who are there right now don't have the luxury of hunkering down for a long campaign to win people's hearts and minds about the injustices of industrialized farming. While we keep pushing companies behind the scenes to stop torturing animals, like, at all, millions of animals right now will experience a significant improvement in the quality of their lives. Which is pretty good for a given work day. I'll let you know once they've gotten rid of gestation crates entirely. We're working on it.
The Onion struck a blow against the cruel confinement of animals in zoos this week by broadcasting a chilling interview with Yun Mei, a panda who has finally had enough. And yes, in case you're wondering, I do get all my news from The Onion. I find tragedy much more palatable when they funny it up. Thanks again, Onion!
It's officially Spring (Allie and Lis, who sit at the desks next to me, are informing me that it has, in fact, officially been Spring for, like, two weeks already — so, I dunno, sorry for the old news. I've been busy, so I only just noticed.) Anyway, for anyone who's rocking a little Spring cleaning this April, it's worth remembering that PETA accepts donations of those hideous fur coats from straight out of the '80s that seem to lurk in closets and attics everywhere, waiting for just the right time to pounce. We mark them up so they can't be resold, use them in street-theater-style demonstrations, and give them away to the homeless, making the point that only those in desperate need have any excuse to wear fur. Ain't that just philanthropic as hell? By way of an illustration, here's an image from a recent demonstration outside a Burberry store conducted by my current favorite PETA affiliate, PETA Germany.
Dan Mathews' book, Committed: A Rabble Rouser's Memoir, is finally out, and it kicked off with a great piece in USA Today this morning. Our Dan has been working a very long time on this book, so it's really gratifying to see it get such a great reception all over the place. This thing is seriously gonna be huge. Plus, all the good reviews mean that the guy is just a pleasure to be around at the office—provided it's after 10 a.m. and you've had a cup of coffee or two to help you deal with all the optimism and general cheeriness emanating from his person. You can read Dan's USA Today interview here, but this was my favorite little bit:
Q: Your press material calls PETA "one of the most enduring, powerful and annoying pressure groups in the world." I suspect you like the world annoying.A: When you're a pressure group and you want to be popular, you're bound to fail. But we're taking on corporations, and our currency is being annoying.
It ain't easy annoying the hell out of nasty corporations, but someone's gotta do it, and Dan Mathews is a natural. If you want to hear him talk about his experiences in person, he's going on a book tour next week, and you can check his MySpace page for dates and locations. And if you do run into him at one of his booksignings, be sure to make him tell you the story about the priest costume.
Those too-hip-for-their-own-good trendsetters over at peta2 have just released a new ad with indie rock icon Ted Leo, which is almost too cool for me to even be talking about. Nonetheless, I figured I should at least attempt to do it some justice, as it's kind of a masterpiece. Ain’t it purty?
Ted Leo used to play DC all the time when I was in high school there, and I've been following his career for a while now, so I was really excited to see that he was working with peta2. If you haven't heard his music yet, you can listen to his new album here. And even if indie rock isn't really your bag, Ted is a fascinating person with a lot on his mind, so it's well worth checking out his interview...
There is a groundbreaking legal case happening in Austria right now, in which a judge is being asked to rule on the "humanness" of a chimp—specifically, over whether he deserves a legal guardian.
The animal in question is called Hiasl (pronounced Hazel). He was born in the Sierra Leone jungle in 1981, captured by animal traders, and illegally shipped to Austria, destined for a vivisection lab. Luckily, customs officials intercepted the crate and Hiasl was placed in an animal sanctuary. Now, 20-something years later, the sanctuary has gone belly up and Hiasl is slated to be sent to a zoo. There are European activists and lawyers trying to keep him out of the zoo, so the trial is on.
Obviously, there has been a whole lot of back-and-forth over this case in Europe, and you can google it if you want the full deal, but suffice to say that primatologists and legal experts have spoken up in support of Hiasl's having legal human status, which is amazing. Even more amazing is that Volker Sommer, a primatologist at London University, says chimps are not just one of the homo genus—he believes they should be considered as the same species as contemporary humans. In the end, however, a judge will decide. . . . This story is so powerful, and the fact that it’s even in court shows both how far the animal rights movement has come, and how far we have to go.
I just heard about it the other day, but my boss, PETA Prez Ingrid Newkirk, has been following the case closely for a while now, and weighing in where she can. There was a story in The New Scientist the other day, and some of the online comments—many from vivisectors—were absolutely appalling. But, as usual, Ingrid’s response to them was just perfect:
"The level of knowledge about this case as expressed on various blogs is bleak and seems to show that what humans have in common with chimpanzees is that they have learned to throw their faeces (we do it via the Internet) when threatened. There is no need to be threatened by a kind person's attempt to protect an ape from having his head opened up and electrodes put in it, and from spending his life banging his body against a steel cage. This reminds me of how insecure men reacted to the idea in the '60s that women might be entitled to the same wage as they were and perhaps shouldn't always be the ones bringing the coffee to everyone's desks. If you see the movie Amazing Grace (or read about the Abolitionist movement), the human slavers and those who benefited from slavery - and the ignorant defenders of the status quo, used variations on the same theme to defend themselves from the "threat" of any rights for African humans. Same song, different year. What we need is less defensiveness and more compassion in the world. As for the chest-beaters, another thing they have in common with chimpanzees, if only they could see beyond themselves and lament that their empathy gene is obviously deficient.”
True dat, Ingrid. I’ll keep everyone posted as the case progresses.
In case you didn’t catch the Wall Street Journal article this morning, I wanted to tell you about a new approach we’re taking in our KFC Campaign.
Most people don’t know this, but KFC’s top executives like to boast about being good Christians. They donate large sums of money to a prominent evangelical Christian church, which one of them ran before joining KFC in 2003. That’s all well and good of course, but actions speak much louder than words, and the reality here is that the way the 850 million chickens killed each year for KFC are abused is a complete mockery of basic Christian values. It is completely unfathomable to me for people who claim such virtue to turn a blind eye to the extreme suffering that they have the power to stop.
My question to them is this: What would Jesus think of the fact that you’re not willing to even lift a finger to help the 850 million chickens killed for your restaurants, even though it is entirely within your power to do so? I’m not trying to be some Biblical scholar here, but honestly, it is just plain evil to continue to cause massive suffering when there are simple changes that can be made, and have been made by other fast food joints.
Well, if they’re not willing to listen to their own animal welfare advisors and the thousands of outraged people all over the world, maybe they’ll listen to the most powerful and influential religious figure in the world, Pope Benedict XVI, the head of the Catholic church. In case you haven’t seen it, here is a famous quote from Pope Benedict, "Animals, too, are God's creatures. ... Degrading them to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible." Sums it up pretty nicely I think.
Anyway, we’ve made leaflets with the Pope’s picture and quote, along with all the gory details of what KFC does to chickens, and we’ll be distributing them at KFCs worldwide. If you attend church, you can order a batch to share with your congregation.
Let’s hope this at least nudges KFC in the right direction . . .
There's a great interview in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution with Atlanta Hawks Guard Salim Stoudamire about why he went vegan. The interview's been doing the rounds of the basketball blogosphere, and I came across a nice little piece about it today in one of my favorite basketball blogs, True Hoop, which you can read here. In the interview, Salim talks about the health benefits he's experienced since switching to a vegan diet, but I was excited to see that he had a little shout out for the animals he's helping out with his diet too:
"I don't think you should eat something that had a mother. I don't think that's right."
It's always great to see professional athletes talking about veganism, because they're great examples to point to when people have questions about whether a vegan diet is healthy. As Salim says, "My endurance has gone up, and I haven't gotten tired at all during the whole season." Which is a pretty ringing endorsement if you ask me—as is this little move he puts on the Grizzlies' Mike Miller. That's what you get when you try to take a take a vegan to the hole, Grizzlies. Salim, you're a badass.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.