Among the dozens of offensive and tasteless stunts perpetrated by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) over the years, few provoked as much anger as the group’s “Holocaust on Your Plate” program. “Holocaust” was a traveling photo installation that compared livestock animals to Nazi death-camp victims. The exhibit’s last panel, titled “The Final Indignity,” juxtaposed a pile of dead Jews with a pile of dead pigs. Last week, as Jews observed Holocaust Remembrance Day, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk conceded “we know that we have caused pain” and offered a half-hearted mea culpa. The Jerusalem Post reported that although Newkirk offered a “terse apology,” most of her statement was “devoted to explaining the rationale behind launching the campaign” in the first place.
Newkirk’s statement, notes the Post, was only “e-mailed to the Jewish press and Jewish rights groups.” It doesn’t appear anywhere on PETA’s own website. And PETA — a group that issues 50 press releases in a typical week — did not devote one to its supposed apology. PETA’s website still contains over 200 pages discussing the “Holocaust” campaign, including over 100 press releases promoting it. And Newkirk’s statement made no mention of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, to which PETA should apologize for misappropriating the pictures used in the exhibit.
Bioethicist and Discovery Institute Fellow Wesley J. Smith skewered PETA’s apparently insincere shift toward respectability in National Review Online. Smith sees in PETA’s non-apology apology “that old standby of the unrepentant who know that public relations problems necessitate the appearance of contrition.” Indeed, a group like PETA that lives for “total animal liberation” can hardly be expected to truly apologize for its tactics, however outrageous.
We’re not holding our breath, but PETA should try its hand at genuine apologies. For example, an apology seems in order for propagandizing millions of children against meat and milk without their parents’ permission.
PETA should also apologize to the 10,000 Virginia residents who entrusted PETA with their dogs and cats, only to have the group put them to death.
PETA should apologize to former First Lady Nancy Reagan for using (without permission) the image of the late President in a billboard suggesting that eating meat gave him Alzheimer’s Disease.
PETA should apologize to the family of the late fashion designer Gianni Versace. In the January 2000 issue of Genre magazine, PETA vice president Dan Mathews was asked to name gay men of the 20th century whom he most admired. Matthews named Andrew Cunanan, who murdered Versace in 1997, “because he got Versace to finally stop using furs.”
PETA should apologize to Christians the world over for perverting scripture to claim that Jesus Christ was a vegetarian, and for running billboards that insist pigs “died for your sins.”
And PETA should apologize to all Americans for offering rhetorical encouragement and financial support (click here and here) to domestic terror groups like the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front.