I wrote an article about the animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), explaining how I have mixed emotions about the group. On one hand, their existence keeps those who engage in animal cruelty on notice, and often their work exposes legitimate animal abuse. On the other hand, however, sometimes some of their more extreme members can engage in controversial, odd, or in a few cases, even violent behavior, that hurts their credibility and imparts on them a aura of extremism.
The Daily Dish of SFGate.com reported on a recent incident where PETA has recently made news. According to The Daily Dish, as mink stole adorned Lindsay Lohan entered a Paris night club on Saturday night, November 15, 2008, an anti-fur activist pelted the actress with a large sac of flour and covered her with its contents. Aside from the humiliation of being dowsed in flour and having to rush to the bathroom to clean up, Lindsay was unharmed.
The Daily Dish article did not reveal if the anti-fur activist was affiliated with PETA, but PETA Europe's Robbie LeBlanc quickly applauded the attack, stating, "There is nothing remotely fashionable about the torture and death of animals killed for fur. Lindsay Lohan might be able to ignore images of bloody animals skinned alive for their pelts, but we hope a dash of flour will help her rise to the occasion and forsake fur once and for all." This seems to indicate that there could be a connection between PETA and the flour bomber.
When I first heard of this, I must admit that my first reaction was to have a pretty good chuckle, both because of the absurd nature of the incident, and because I am no fan of fur garments. However, I will concede that my dislike of fur could be fairly criticised as carrying and air of hypocrisy, since I do wear leather shoes and belts as well as favor leather seats in my cars. My only justification for this is that my skins come from animals that are already being slaughtered for food, and whether you buy into this justification, I do not approve of the killing of animals simply for their fur, although my use of leather certainly disqualifies me from being an anti-fur activist.
What should be clear to any rational person is, while a stance against the wearing of furs can be viewed as a humane and justified opinion, behavior like this is not the way to get the message out. Pelting Lindsay Lohan with a sac of flour will not likely cause her to rethink her wearing of furs, and to many people, these actions will cause people to view anti-fur people as kooky extremists rather than legitimate activists.
A better, more credible way to denounce Lindsay Lohan's choice of animal fur wardrobe, would have been to use blogs and other multimedia to bring attention to the fact that Ms. Lohan is setting a bad example in their opinion, of advocating the killing of animals for the purpose of harvesting their furs. In presenting this case in a more civilized fashion, perhaps Ms. Lohan would have suddenly seen the light and realized the implications of what she was wearing and pronounced that she would no longer wear animal furs. Perhaps she would have done this just for the sake of eliminating the potentially bad press.
Even if she had not responded at all, taking a higher road may have led many to be sympathetic to their cause, whereas following the flour bomb, there are probably more people that dismiss the actions of this PETA linked anti-fur activist as extreme, uncivilized, and mean spirited.
Roger Welton, DVM