King of Pop’s First Hit Could Help Rats

Published by PETA.
gossipcheck / CC
Michael Jackson

Since Michael Jackson’s passing on Thursday, there have been hundreds of news stories ranging from how he influenced just about every musician performing today to how he’s responsible for the Academy’s recent decision to allow 10 nominations for “Best Picture” (no, really!). It got us thinking: What if Michael’s music could be used to help animals?

We’ve written to Michael Jackson’s estate asking for the rights to the singer’s first solo hit, “Ben,” which was written for the 1972 film of the same name. This beautiful song is about the friendship between a lonely boy and a rat named Ben, and we’re hoping to use it to raise awareness about the plight of rats and other animals tormented in laboratory experiments.

Mice and rats make up the vast majority of animals used in experiments, but because they are excluded from the federal Animal Welfare Act, they are denied even minimal legal protection. Part of the message of “Ben” is that rats are frequently misunderstood. (For example—did you know that rats and mice are fastidiously clean, intelligent, and highly sociable animals—they even giggle!) In the song, Jackson sings:

Ben, most people would turn you away
I don’t listen to a word they say
They don’t see you as I do
I wish they would try to.

We hope we’ll be able to use this song to inspire people to understand rats a little better and to join our campaign to stop cruel and archaic animal experiments on them.

Written by Amanda Schinke

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind