Animal-Rights Scaremongering Runs A-Monk

Talk about chutzpah. No, seriously, talk about the chutzpah of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), because the victims of its latest smear campaign aren’t inclined to speak up for themselves very much. That’s because PETA has attacked a South Carolina monastery run by Trappist monks. The radical group has alleged that the monks’ contemplative life has been tainted by mistreatment of the egg-laying hens they keep, an allegation that has made it all the way to The New York Times. But under the hype garnered by PETA (“Monks Hate Chickens!”) lies a pretty shaky story. PETA’s video implies that the monks practice beak trimming, even though the abbey receives its hens with beaks already trimmed. Furthermore, PETA ignores some basics about animal welfare. As one welfare expert told the Times about beak trimming: “I’ve seen the alternative, and, believe me, it’s much worse.” What’s more, PETA ignores the monks’ obvious concern for the animals’ welfare. The monastery’s abbot told the Times that his brethren “had been known to sing to the birds.” A reporter from Charleston, SC television station WCBD has noted another odd inconsistency in PETA’s tale: Some of the animal rights group’s online video about the monastery wasn’t shot there at all. Asked if this was an intentional deception on PETA’s part, College of Charleston Communication Professor Doug Ferguson replied: “There is some irony there because their name has the word ethical in it … Surely, there was intentional deception. They were intending to shock people and PETA is a group that apparently feels the ends justifies the means.”

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