Recently, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has waged an all-out assault on the University of Wisconsin (UW) complete with a robocall by celebrity supporter Bill Maher. PETA is trying to intimidate UW into abandoning research on how hearing works — and how deafness might be cured — using feline models. PETA is doing this by attacking the university’s animal care record even as federal investigators found that PETA’s allegations were unsupported. PETA has a long track record of trying to have all animal research banned. Ingrid Newkirk has even declared that “Even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we’d be against it.”
The university isn’t taking the attacks lying down, however. Standing up in the face of the all-too-frequently-real risks of animal liberation violence and intimidation against researchers, UW issued a statement calling the allegations “repeated, unsubstantiated and false” and a “campaign of misinformation.”
This latest PETA stunt isn’t Maher’s first campaign of misinformation. The comedian has faced repeated criticism for public statements denying the usefulness of scientific medicine and the germ theory of disease. Maher has been a PETA stalwart since the 1990s, even saying his position on mad cow disease (remember that?) was “I’m for it.” And it seems like quite a cop out for Maher to record one message and then use an automated system to spam everyone’s phone number. If Maher was really serious, shouldn’t he make the effort to actually make the individual phone calls?
PETA’s effort is also a campaign of hypocrisy: The notorious animal liberation group killed over 94 percent of the cats that entered its animal shelter in 2012. (PETA adopted out only seven cats to new homes during that year.) State records show that PETA has killed roughly 30,000 animals total since 1998, and the killing was so wanton a state investigator proposed reclassifying PETA’s shelter of horrors a “euthanasia clinic.” With UW’s strong statement, it’s nice to see someone sock the bully in the nose.