People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been described as “by far the most successful radical organization in America.” The key word is radical. PETA seeks “total animal liberation,” according to its president and co-founder, Ingrid Newkirk. That means no meat or dairy, of course; but it also means no aquariums, no circuses, no hunting or fishing, no fur or leather, and no medical research using animals. PETA is even opposed to the use of seeing-eye dogs.
Source Library & Additional Information
- Click here for audio and video of PETA officers and other animal rights extremists.
- Click here to see PETA’s cash donation to the terrorist Earth Liberation Front.
- Click here to see $70,000 in PETA grants to a convicted animal-rights arsonist.
- Click here to see the money trail between PETA and its phony “physicians committee” front group.
- Click here to learn about PETA’s hypocritical practice of killing over 30,000 animals.
Amidst the dozens of animal rights organizations, PETA occupies the niche of — in Newkirk’s own words — “complete press sluts.” Endlessly seeking media exposure, PETA sends out dozens of press releases every week.
In the past, PETA has handled the press for the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), a violent, underground group of fanatics who plant firebombs in restaurants, destroy butcher shops, and torch research labs. The FBI considers ALF among America’s most active and prolific terrorist groups, but PETA compares it to the Underground Railroad and the French Resistance. More than 20 years after its inception, PETA continues to hire convicted ALF militants and funds their legal defense. In at least one case, court records show that Ingrid Newkirk herself was involved in an ALF arson.
PETA has even begun to adopt the tactics of an ALF offshoot known as SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty). This group is notorious for taking protests outside the boardroom and into the living room, attacking their targets at their homes.
In 2001, three masked SHAC members brutally bludgeoned a medical researcher outside his home in England. The lead attacker was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison. A few months later, SHAC attacked another research industry employee on his doorstep with a chemical spray to his eyes, leaving him temporarily blinded and writhing in pain. The following year, Newkirk was asked her opinion of SHAC in the Boston Herald. Her response? “More power to SHAC if they can get someone’s attention.”
By 2003, PETA activists had adopted SHAC’s protest techniques, stalking and harassing fast-food restaurant executives. Not content to write letters and picket the chain restaurant’s offices, PETA’s leaders met with the CEO’s pastor, and visited his country club and the manager of one of his favorite restaurants. PETA activists, one dressed in a chicken suit, even protested at the church of two executives, annoying worshipers by driving a truck with giant screens of slaughterhouse video back and forth along the street.
In an effort to win more media exposure, PETA has adopted the counter-intuitive tactic of buying stock in restaurant, food, and apparel companies that serve and sell meat, leather, or other animal products. After buying just enough shares to qualify, PETA’s pattern is to introduce shareholder resolutions that would require animal-rights-oriented practices in the way animals are handled and slaughtered.
PETA’s goal as a shareholder, of course, is not to turn a profit. Its resolutions, if passed, would increase the cost of doing business and lower the value of everyone’s investment. The group has claimed that it’s “not trying to remove meat from the menu.” But with a stated long-term goal of “total animal liberation,” pushing for animal-welfare changes is just a first step. PETA’s short-term goals are to economically cripple these companies, force them to increase the retail price of meat, and nudge consumers toward eating less of it.
PETA collected almost $42 million in donations in 2015 alone, but few donors understand exactly where their money is going. Over a ten year period, PETA spent four times as much on criminals and their legal defense than it has on shelters, spay-neuter programs, and other efforts that actually help animals.
As of 2017, PETA’s legal department employed over a dozen attorneys. Following PETA’s media-stunt lawsuit claiming SeaWorld orcas were “enslaved” in violation of the US Constitution, PETA more recently has been threatening to sue facilities with animals under the Endangered Species Act. But not everyone is taking PETA’s threats lying down. One Michigan zoo filed a lawsuit against PETA for defamation; a primate facility in Missouri also sued PETA for defamation.
From both a moral and a legal standpoint, there are far too many objectionable things about PETA to list here in detail. But the following list is a good start:
1) PETA is not an animal welfare organization.
PETA spends less than one percent of its multi-million dollar budget actually helping animals. The group euthanized (killed) more than 1,900 animals in 2003 alone — that’s over 85 percent of the animals it received. In fact, from July 1998 through the end of 2003, PETA killed over 10,000 dogs, cats, and other “companion animals” at its Norfolk, Virginia headquarters. That’s more than five animals every day.
On its 2002 federal income-tax return, PETA claimed a $9,370 expense for a giant walk-in freezer, the kind most people use as a meat locker or for ice-cream storage. But animal-rights activists don’t eat meat or dairy foods. So far, the group hasn’t confirmed the obvious — that it’s using the appliance to store the bodies of its victims.
2) PETA assaults common decency.
PETA’s leadership has compared animal farmers to serial killer (and cannibal) Jeffrey Dahmer. They proclaimed in a 2003 exhibit that chickens are as valuable as Jewish Holocaust victims. They announced with a 2001 billboard that a shark attack on a little boy was “revenge” against humans who had it coming anyway. They have branded parents who feed their kids meat and milk “child abusers.” In 2002 PETA organized a campaign to sabotage a popular Thanksgiving hotline, which provides free advice about cooking turkeys. The group has even contemplated (literally) dancing on the grave of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Colonel Sanders. And in 2003, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk wrote to Yasser Arafat, pleading with him to make certain no animals are harmed in Palestinian suicide-bombing attacks.
3) PETA peddles its “animal liberation” food agenda through a medical front group that pretends to offer objective nutritional advice.
A group misleadingly named the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has duped the press into believing that it is an association of conscientious doctors promoting good nutrition. In fact, it is a PETA front group. PCRM and PETA share money, offices, and staff. The American Medical Association calls PCRM a “pseudo-physicians group,” has demanded that PCRM stop its “inappropriate and unethical tactics used to manipulate public opinion,” and argues that PCRM has been “blatantly misleading Americans” and “concealing its true purpose as an animal ‘rights’ organization.”
Taking a page out of PETA’s press book, PCRM has labeled U.S. school lunches “weapons of mass destruction” because they include meat and milk. PCRM’s president, a psychiatrist named Neal Barnard, recently duped Newsweek into covering his “study” (of seven people) supposedly demonstrating that a vegan diet helped prevent type-2 diabetes. In 2002, PCRM was cited in major newspapers more than 550 times. It was identified as an animal-rights organization in only a handful of those cases.
4) PETA exploits sick people.
PETA famously suggested that drinking milk causes cancer, in an advertisement mocking then-NYC Mayor Rudy Guliani with the words “Got Prostate Cancer?” PETA has also erected a billboard reading: “Got Sick Kids? Drinking milk contributes to colic, ear infections, allergies, diabetes, obesity, and many other illnesses.” In 2003 the group held a demonstration in front of a Toronto-area hospital that was under a SARS-related quarantine, spuriously alleging that animal husbandry has something to do with the epidemic’s spread. Upon hearing that Charlton Heston had fallen ill with Alzheimer’s Disease, Ingrid Newkirk suggested that PETA would “toy with the idea that both Alzheimer’s and CJD [Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease] are related to meat consumption.” According to a profile in The New Yorker, she considered “renting billboards that would display a large picture of a gaunt Charlton Heston foaming at the mouth.”
5) PETA propagandizes children.
PETA’s website for kids puts a skull and crossbones next to the logo of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and tells the horror story of a fast food restaurant employee who “had taken a patty into the potty with her, then returned and said she had peed on it.” It hands out trading cards to kids that allege drinking milk will make them fat, pimply, flatulent, and phlegm-ridden. PETA also has a child-themed website, and a kiddie-oriented magazine, called GRRR! Kids Bite Back. The name is significant, as it is intended to prep children to identify with the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), which has long-used the phrase “bite back” in its promotional materials. In fact, as early as 1991, convicted ALF arsonist and PETA grantee Rodney Coronado was calling his own crime spree “Operation Bite Back.” PETA also sends “humane education lecturer” Gary Yourofsky into high schools — and even middle schools — to promote the “animal liberation” agenda. Yourofsky is a convicted ALF criminal who has said he would support burning down medical research labs even if humans were trapped in the flames.
6) PETA distorts religious teachings.
Not only does PETA oppose the age-old Jewish tradition of Kosher slaughter, but the group’s leaders maintain that Jews have misinterpreted their own sacred texts on the subject. They also claim, ignoring mountains of scripture to the contrary, that Jesus was a vegetarian. PETA celebrated Easter in 2003 with a billboard depicting a pig, reading “he died for your sins.” PETA also insists (again, selectively ignoring contradictory evidence) that Muhammad “was not a meat-eater.” In his speeches to adolescents, Gary Yourofsky regularly compares himself to Gandhi and Jesus Christ. PETA’s in-school presentations include the application of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” to birds and turtles — not people.
7) PETA opposes life-saving medical research.
PETA has repeatedly attacked groups like the March of Dimes, the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the American Cancer Society, for conducting animal testing to find cures for birth defects and life-threatening diseases. When asked if she would oppose an experiment on five thousand rats if it would result in a cure for AIDS, Newkirk responded: “Would you be opposed to experiments on your daughter if you knew it would save fifty million people?” In addition to opposing any and all medical research that uses animals, PETA also insults medical professionals by arguing, with a straight face, that animal testing is a counterproductive means of finding cures for human diseases.
8) PETA devalues human life.
PETA’s efforts to treasure every mosquito and cockroach invariably lead them to hate human beings for using bug spray and RAID. Ingrid Newkirk argues that as human beings, “we’re the biggest blight on the face of the earth.”
9) PETA openly supports violence and terrorist activity.
PETA has long-standing ties to militant groups like the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). The FBI calls these criminal groups a “serious domestic terrorist threat.”
10) PETA hypocritically kills animals at its headquarters.
PETA has killed more than 36,000 animals at its headquarters in Virginia since 1998. PETA technically runs an “animal shelter,” though it’s more akin to a slaughterhouse. In some years, PETA’s kill rate has exceeded 97%. And according to an affidavit filed by a former employee, “We would routinely euthanize healthy puppies and kittens and other highly adoptable.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals provides aid and comfort for the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The two groups are responsible for more than 600 crimes since 1996, causing (by a very conservative FBI estimate) more than $43 million in damage. ALF’s “press office” brags that in 2002, the two groups committed “100 illegal direct actions” — like blowing up SUVs, destroying the brakes on seafood delivery trucks, and planting firebombs in restaurants.
The FBI calls ALF and ELF the nation’s “most serious domestic terrorism threat.” Bruce Friedrich, PETA’s “vegan campaign director” and third-in-command, didn’t seem to care when he addressed the Animal Rights 2001 convention in Virginia, telling a crowd of over 1,000 activists that “blowing stuff up and smashing windows” is “a great way to bring about animal liberation.”
“It would be great,” he added, “if all the fast-food outlets, slaughterhouses, these laboratories and the banks who fund them exploded tomorrow.”
PETA’s connections to ALF and ELF are indisputable. “We did it, we did it. We gave $1,500 to the ELF for a specific program,” PETA’s Lisa Lange admitted on the Fox News Channel. PETA has offered no fewer than eight different explanations of what the “specific program” was, but law enforcement leaders have noted that since the Earth Liberation Front is a criminal enterprise, it has absolutely no legal “programs” of any kind.
For instance, in 2003, ELF set fire to an unfinished, 200 unit condominium complex near San Diego. The arson caused $50 million in damage, and according to a San Diego Fire Captain: “It could have killed someone.” ELF left its calling card in the form of a twelve foot sign that read: “If you build it — we will burn it — the ELF’s are mad.”
PETA also has given $2,000 to David Wilson, then a national ALF “spokesperson.” The group paid $27,000 for the legal defense of Roger Troen, who was arrested for taking part in an October 1986 burglary and arson at the University of Oregon. It gave $7,500 to Fran Stephanie Trutt, who tried to murder the president of a medical laboratory. It gave $5,000 to Josh Harper, who attacked Native Americans on a whale hunt by throwing smoke bombs, shooting flares, and spraying their faces with chemical fire extinguishers. All of these monies were paid out of tax-exempt funds, the same pot of money constantly enlarged by donations from an unsuspecting general public.
PETA president Ingrid Newkirk is also an acknowledged financial supporter of a publication called No Compromise. This periodical operates on behalf of the radicals of ALF, and often publishes underground “communiqués” and calls to arms from ALF leaders.
Most ominously, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk was involved in the multi-million-dollar arson at Michigan State University that resulted in a 57-month prison term for Animal Liberation Front bomber Rodney Coronado. At Coronado’s sentencing hearing, U.S. Attorney Michael Dettmer said that PETA’s Ingrid Newkirk arranged ahead of time to have Coronado send her a pair of FedEx packages from Michigan — one on the day before he burned the lab down, and the other shortly afterward.
The first FedEx, according to the Sentencing Memorandum, was delivered to a woman named Maria Blanton, “a longtime PETA member who had agreed to accept the first Federal Express package from Coronado after being asked to do so by Ingrid Newkirk.” The FBI intercepted the second package, which had been sent to the same address. It contained documents that Coronado stole before lighting his firebombs, as well as “a videotape of the perpetrator of the MSU crime, disguised in a ski mask.” Since Coronado was convicted of the arson, we now know that he himself was that masked man. “Significantly,” wrote U.S. Attorney Dettmer, “Newkirk had arranged to have the package[s] delivered to her days before the MSU arson occurred.” (emphasis in the original)
A search warrant executed at Blanton’s home turned up evidence that PETA’s other co-founder, Alex Pacheco, had also been planning burglaries and break-ins along with Rodney Coronado. The feds seized “surveillance logs; code names for Coronado, Pacheco, and others; burglary tools; two-way radios; night vision goggles; [and] phony identification for Coronado and Pacheco.”
Shortly after Coronado’s arrest, PETA gave $45,200 to his “support committee” and “loaned” $25,000 to his father (the loan was never repaid and PETA hasn’t complained). Now free from jail, with an expired parole, and with the benefit of an expired Statute of Limitations on his many earlier arsons (to which he readily confesses in his standard stump speech), Coronado stood before a crowd of hundreds of young people at American University in January 2003 and demonstrated how to turn a milk jug into a bomb. A few days later, ALF criminals tried to burn down a McDonald’s restaurant in Chico, California, using a firebomb that matched Coronado’s recipe.
The following month, Ingrid Newkirk told ABC News that Rodney Coronado is “a fine young man.”
Newkirk wrote a book called Free the Animals! The Untold Story of the U.S. Animal Liberation Front and Its Founder, ‘Valerie.’ In it she writes: “The ALF has, over the years, trusted People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to receive copies of the evidence of wrongdoing … I have also become somewhat used to jumping on a plane with copies of freshly purloined documents and hurriedly calling news conferences to discuss the ALF’s findings.” Indeed, PETA has held such press conferences just hours after ALF arsons and other break-ins.
PETA has published a leaflet called “Animal Liberation Front: the Army of the Kind.” In another pamphlet, “Activism and the Law,” PETA openly offers advice on “burning a laboratory building.”
“I will be the last person to condemn ALF,” says Newkirk. And in another interview: “I find it small wonder that the laboratories aren’t all burning to the ground. If I had more guts, I’d light a match.” In ALF’s publication Bite Back (yes, this terrorist group has a newsletter), Newkirk has said: “You can’t have all politeness and patience, all potlucks and epistles … Some people will never budge unless [they are] pushed to budge.”
Perhaps Newkirk’s most telling comment, though, came in a 2002 U.S. News & World Report feature. “Our nonviolent tactics are not as effective,” she admitted. “We ask nicely for years and get nothing. Someone makes a threat, and it works.”
According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, human beings are just another animal species, no more special or important than a snail darter or dairy cow. The group believes, as one commentator put it, that “animal trainers, hunters, fishermen, cattlemen, grocers, and indeed all non-vegetarians are the moral equivalent of cannibals, slave-owners, and death-camp guards.” Newkirk insists that the world would be a better place without people: “Humans have grown like a cancer. We’re the biggest blight on the face of the earth.”
While valuing livestock over people may be an indefensible argument, it’s typical of PETA’s overall strategy: to stake out extreme, ridiculous, offensive, and often laughable positions, in order to constantly redefine the edge of what’s considered “acceptable” philosophy and protest activity. Ten years ago, throwing fake blood on a fur coat, agitating for vegan cafeteria food, or objecting to Biology-class dissection were unusual behaviors. Today, these are commonplace — the radical line is now defined by firebombs, grand theft, stalking of scientists, and bloody physical assaults. For this, PETA deserves much of the blame; its habit of upping the ante of bad taste and shock value has redefined misanthropy and bad taste.
For instance, when PETA learned that the photographs of Holocaust victims displayed in its roving exhibit — entitled “The Holocaust on Your Plate” — included Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel as a young man at the Buchenwald concentration camp, it shrugged. “Six million people died in concentration camps,” laments Ingrid Newkirk, “but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses.”
When terrorists struck on September 11, 2001, PETA issued a press release emphasizing the “animals left orphaned” and the dogs and cats in nearby buildings who would be “highly traumatized.” The press release berated Mayor Giuliani for his “poor record when it comes to animals” and urged him expend time, energy, and human resources “to set up a task force to locate and rescue animals” at Ground Zero.
When Newkirk heard that Palestinian militants had strapped explosives to a donkey in the hopes of exploding it in a crowded Jerusalem street, she faxed a letter to Yasser Arafat, pleading with him to “leave the animals out of it.”
When a grisly killing spree in Vancouver left 15 women dead, PETA tried to purchase full-page ads in local papers suggesting that this carnage was no worse than the killing of animals for food.
When Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh decided to refrain from eating meat during his last meal, PETA’s Bruce Friedrich told reporters: “Mr. McVeigh’s decision to go vegetarian groups him with some of the world’s greatest visionaries, including Albert Schweitzer, Mohandas Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy and Albert Einstein.”
And when images of American POWs brutalized by Saddam’s regime came back from the war zone — reminding us of mankind’s capacity for barbarism — PETA loudly fretted that the hens used by the army to detect chemical weapons “never enlisted” and that the dolphins locating deadly mines in the Persian Gulf “have not volunteered.”
Having proclaimed the life of a roaster chicken to be as valuable as that of a person trapped inside a collapsing skyscraper or imprisoned in a death camp, a murder victim, a federal worker in Oklahoma City, or an innocent Israeli civilian, PETA continues to place greater value on a dolphin than on a ship packed with American soldiers. “I don’t believe that people have the right to life,” Newkirk has said. “That’s a supremacist perversion. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.”
In this sense, Timothy McVeigh and Osama bin Laden may be seen as heroes to PETA. By taking thousands of humans out of the food chain, they saved far more chickens and cows than they killed people.