Regular readers of ConsumerFreedom.com know how People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) plays fast and loose with facts in order to push its "total animal liberation" agenda. PETA’s leaders have denied their despicable targeting of small children, for example, and they’ve insisted that PETA doesn’t support violent activism. The group’s fibs about the words of living and deceased celebrities — the kind of statements that are easily double-checked — make PETA’s strained relationship with the truth look downright pathological. PETA has recently been called on the carpet after misquoting public figures like The Beastie Boys, former NAACP leader Kweisi Mfume, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Now add to this list Leonardo da Vinci.
In an April 2003 New Yorker feature about PETA president Ingrid Newkirk (later republished in Britain’s Guardian newspaper), writer Michael Specter noted his first impression of PETA’s Norfolk, Virginia headquarters:
Inside, the building could have been designed by Dr. Doolittle. There is a quotation from Leonardo da Vinci chiselled into the lintel above the reception area: "The day will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals the way they now look upon the murder of men."
Da Vinci never said this. PETA’s reception area features a lie literally chiseled in stone. In a 1985 book called The Extended Circle: A Dictionary of Humane Thought, editor Jon Wynne-Tyson mistakenly reversed the attribution of two critical quotes — one from da Vinci’s notebooks and another from a work of fiction by Russian author Dmitry Merezhkovsky. Here’s the mistake:
PETA’s fake Leonardo quote can, in fact, be found in an English translation of Merezhkovsky’s novel, attributed to the fictional Leonardo third-hand (on page 164) by yet another fictional character:
It seems like the only thing PETA actually shares with da Vinci is a fondness for inventions. Too bad this one resembles his helicopter — it doesn’t fly.