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P.E.T.A. : Animal Rights, Human Abuse

Essay by   •  December 26, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,685 Words (7 Pages)  •  2,136 Views

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With over 850,000 active members, the animal rights organization People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has blossomed into an exceptionally powerful speech community. Their main goal is to enlighten others about the prominent existence of animal cruelty in the world, hoping to gain enough power to abolish it, or at least prevent it from happening as often as it does. PETA uses language as a tool of power, verbalizing its message through controversial ad campaigns, rallies, marches and protests. PETA has also been very successful in using this tool in courts of law, filing lawsuits against those who they believe to be treating animals immorally, and pushing to get proper legislation passed to help their cause. After using language to create and maintain power, the burning question is, "How is this acquired power going to be used?" Despite the innocent intention of giving a voice to abused animals and trying to ameliorate their living (and dying) conditions, the PETA organization is guilty of abusing their acquired power by insulting and exploiting the public and manipulating thousands of minds with biased information and deceiving campaigns, while failing to take responsibility for the negative effects of its actions.

PETA was founded 25 years ago in order to protect the rights of animals, specifically in places where they are commonly abused (laboratories, food-producing factories, the clothing and entertainment industries). Over the years, they have used the power of language to achieve success through informative films, speeches, public education, advertising etc.... In order for any organization to have power and influence, it must first discover and follow the idea of "strength in numbers," gathering as many followers as possible. One way that they attract many members is by exploiting the presence of pity, which becomes present, for example, after witnessing one of their shockingly graphic films in which animals are slaughtered and tortured. They also are not afraid to use the power of persuasion, insisting that every individual can make a difference. This can be seen through one of their constantly repeated mottos: "We can't stop all suffering, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't stop any." After initial increasing popularity of the organization, the most prominent method of attracting members however has become the boasting of a great amount of celebrity involvement in the movement. Celebrities such as Pamela Anderson, Kim Bassinger and Dennis Rodman are very active members of the organization, appearing in many campaign ads and voicing their opinions on television whenever they get a chance. Testimonials are used as a form of propaganda, attracting many fans to the organization. These are all the most direct and fair methods PETA uses to attract members, creating power. Members of the organization are not ashamed to use other, less respectable ways in order gain that power.

One of the most commonly used way for PETA to gain more power in the form of followers is through insulting, disdaining and condescending language in regards to those who either oppose or do not already belong to the movement. The targeted people habitually include laboratory researchers, factory farm workers, clothes designers, meat-eaters, and fur-wearers. Most of the time, members of the organization do not directly call out people or groups by name, but express their opinions through general insults or complaints to the world. However, bolder spokespeople of the group often revert to direct name-calling and grotesque insulting. This is clearly seen through a statement made by Pamela Anderson, published in Jane magazine:

"People who wear fur smell like a wet dog if they're in the rain. And they look fat and gross. They look like really immature, unenlightened, stupid people. When people are so blatant about cruelty, it makes me nauseous. . . . [E]very season, [the furriers] put propaganda everywhere that fur is taking off again. And they give free coats to idiots like Jennifer Lopez and people who'll wear them. Like Puff Daddy."

Anderson directly insults the appearance and intelligence of the fur-wearing community. She also calls out two celebrities by name, spreading the ideas about them, in this case, that they lack intelligence and an individual sense of style.

With the power that PETA has acquired over the years, the organization has been able to effectively use its resources to greatly aid the cause. They've launched private investigations that ended up exposing the maltreatment of animals in hundreds of factories, laboratories, and in the entertainment industry. FETA used its voice to provide the public with what it considers to be critical information, by featuring many of these cases on national television through talk shows, interviews, specials and documentaries. It has also used its voice to persuade many cosmetic companies such as Almay and Cover Girl not to test their products on animals, and have also convinced many clothing designers to start using fake fur. Through lawsuits, the organization has also successful had a significant amount of legislation passed in favor of the cause. Active members of the organization often visit elementary schools to spread their message, making sure to establish the idea that animal mistreatment is a very gave issue early on. Overall, PETA knows how to use its verbal power for good, and has used this power to achieve influence and success.

Now that PETA has acquired a significant amount of power, it freely executes its ability to use language in both constructive and destructive ways. One way that it has abused language as a tool of power is, by manipulating imagery for their advertisements, while exploiting real people and tragic events in their campaigns. The most significant instance of abuse is in their "The Holocaust on your Plate" campaign where the abuse of farm animals was compared to Nazi-treatment of the Jews in concentration camps. Pictures of maltreated, starving, and dying animals (mostly chickens and cows) were juxtaposed with pictures of Jews suffering from the same misfortunes. This campaign stirred up an immense amount of controversy, offending a many and promoting feelings of hurt and anger within thousands of people. They also abuse their power by exploiting celebrities and

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