PETA—People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals— has announced that it is starting a porn website to attract attention to the plight of animals. Over on his Business Ethics Blog, Chris McDonald asks whether this means that PETA has “jumped the shark.” More so than offering Octomom money to put a billboard on her lawn advocating spaying pets so they won’t have litters like hers? More so than complaining that Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog of Groundhog Day fame, should be replaced by a robot? I don’t think so. Besides, jumping a shark would be cruel to the shark.
The tunnel-visioned organization, well on its way to becoming a joke to the detriment of its abused animal constituency, has registered the domain name peta.xxx and plans to launch a pornography website in December that “draws attention to the plight of animals.” How will it do that, you ask? By using images of naked women performing sex acts on men to attract viewers, and then making the audience observe graphic videos of animal abuse for the privilege of watching the graphic sex. “We try to use absolutely every outlet to stick up for animals,” says PETA spokesperson Lindsay Rajt, who adds that the organization wouldn’t use its “flashier tactics if we didn’t know they worked.”
Let’s put that right at the top of this list, entitled “5 Things PETA Doesn’t Understand About Ethics.”
1. The ends don’t always justify the means. PETA’s “by any means necessary” approach to its mission has included such unethical tactics as humiliating desperate human beings, like Octomom, and putting Michelle Obama into their ads without her permission.
2. An advocate for an important cause has a duty to maintain its own credibility. PETA has constantly undermined its ability to persuade by stunts that make it appear flaky and incapable of perspective.
3. Linking an organization to activities many people believe are wrong, immoral or exploitive—like pornography— reduce respect, regard, and good will for both the organization and its objectives. This is how cognitive dissonance works, and is part of the values assignment process that determines how humans rank people, organizations and conduct. If the primary advocate for a cause aligns itself with unethical or repulsive activities and views, the cause is dragged down by its association with them.
4. Human life is more precious than animal life. PETA clearly doesn’t think so, and is willing to objectify women and support the porn industry, which exploits women, in defense of animals. It is an unethical trade-off.
5. Integrity. An organization with “ethical” in its name has to take care that it behaves ethically and demonstrates an understanding of ethical principles.
[Thanks to The Business Ethics Blog for the tip.]