People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been green-lighted by a U.S. District Court judge to participate in a controversial Washington, DC art exhibit. Called “Party Animals,” the citywide art show consists of 200 five-foot-tall polyurethane elephants and donkeys (the symbols of our two major political parties), painted and decorated in whimsical patterns by a variety of sponsors.
PETA’s entry, which depicts a teary-eyed elephant with one leg chained, includes inflammatory slogans frequently used by animal activists to discourage people from attending circuses. But New Yorker artist Harry Bliss, who designed the perturbed pachyderm, told National Public Radio on Friday that he has “never been to a circus” himself [click here for audio]. We presume Bliss just swallowed PETA’s proverbial kool-aid, as have millions of Americans who are unaware of the organization’s well-documented support of domestic terror groups.
But now that PETA’s courtroom maneuver is bearing fruit, additional dissent is being heard from an unexpected source. Herb Witenstein, a well-known artist whose work is featured on an existing “party animal” statue, told the Washington Post that he is “offended that a judge would impose the agenda of a fringe political group into a process where it has no place.”
Arguing that PETA’s entry diminishes the value of other artists’ contributions, Witenstein insists: “There is a big difference between an artist whose work was chosen on its merits and a work from an organization demanding a platform for its views.”