The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have an important mission. It also is a very difficult mission, because most people try to think about cruelty to animals as little as possible. We like our veal and chicken dishes; we like our pets; we want to find cures for dread diseases, and that may require animal testing. The facts about what animals experience, feel and think are not comforting to these wants and needs, so an organization dedicated to changing our attitudes toward the non-human inhabitants of Earth has to be careful, nuanced, articulate, and most of all, respectable.The duty of respectability comes with accepting such an important mission. We do not trust those we do not respect. If PETA doesn’t command respect, its mission, and the innocent and vulnerable animals it seeks to protect, are at risk.
It follows then that it is unethical for such an organization to say things and do things that erode public trust, and that give the public a good reason to say, “Ignore these people. They are clowns, fools, and publicity hounds.” Individuals and organizations that must be trusted for their important messages to have credibility must hold themselves to a high standard of respectability.
PETA has yet to grasp this important ethical principle. Why do I say that, you ask?
PETA just issued a statement calling for Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, whose reaction to his shadow tells us how long winter will be, to be replaced by a robotic groundhog.
“Pass the veal cutlets, honey; I’m famished from the duck hunt!“