To judge from the firestorm of protest pouring out of the Canadian province of Manitoba yesterday, you might think People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had offended an entire nation of people with a fiendishly creative (yet disturbingly offensive) campaign. But unfortunately for the animal liberation gang, the advertisement that has North American newspaper editors talking today is a 17-year-old retread. So we’re calling it official: PETA, the anti-meat, anti-dairy, anti-everything group we all love to hate, is fresh out of original ideas.
Reacting to last week’s gruesome story about a stabbing and decapitation murder aboard a Greyhound bus (which included some even more disturbing elements of cannibalism), PETA drew attention to itself on Wednesday by trying to place an ad in a Manitoba newspaper comparing the murder to the slaughter of livestock animals for food. The ad on the left is what has generated more than 150 outraged news stories. (Click to enlarge.)
 
If it looks familiar, it should. The ad at right dates back to 1991. PETA ran that version in The Des Moines Register 17 years ago, shortly after serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer confessed to dismembering and cannibalizing more than a dozen young men. In other words, this week PETA was in such a hurry to insult our neighbor to the North that it couldn’t be bothered to come up with new material.
Back then, the Associated Press noted that the ad cost PETA $11,200 to run. This week’s media circus was free, since Manitoba’s Portage Daily Graphic declined to run it. Of course, unlike in 1991, today’s PETA has to contend with the expense of promoting hypocritical spokesmodels at the Olympic Games, as well as paying a crematory service to dispose of the thousands of adoptable pets its employees are killing. So we understand the need to economize.
We’ve demonstrated before how PETA’s reputation for rampant creativity is often an unearned one. Its stock anti-meat protest in which a naked woman’s body parts are painted to look like cuts of beef was pilfered from an iconic 1968 women’s-liberation demonstration against the Miss America Pageant. And its unabashedly offensive “Holocaust on Your Plate” exhibit, comparing Nazi Holocaust victims with livestock animals, was poached from an earlier pro-life exhibit.
PETA’s any-press-is-good-press philosophy may finally be wearing thin. Yesterday, Toronto-based Liberal Party spin-doctor Warren Kinsella issued a one-sentence statement directed at PETA: “These people are scumbags.” And a sampling of reader comments to major news websites including CNN and Canadian Television includes these observations.

“PeTA stands for People for the ethical Treatment of Animals. If you notice, the "e" is not capitalized. This is because PeTA has no ‘ethics’.”
“I am horrified, disgusted and appalled. PETA WILL NEVER get support from me or my family EVER again.”
“PETA is bunch of ruthless crazy people.. They do not deserve to have a voice.”
“If you ever wanted proof that PETA is evil, here it is.”
“I am a vegetarian and I am for animal rights and all but this is the most sickening thing I have ever heard.”
“PETA seems to have the collective intelligence of a turnip. I presume they fake their compassion for animals, because they bloody well have none for humans.”
“It just goes to show that PETA is just a bunch of wackos.”
“PETA needs a new PR director. On the plus side, this shows Canadians how out of line PETA’s thoughts are.”
“I hope that some supporters will now finally see what a bunch of dumb lunatics PETA has become, and stop funding them.”
“Any credibility PETA may have had once is certainly now lost."

Keep it up, guys. You’re just making our job easier.