Scott Hardie | February 12, 2005
A few days ago, PETA made headlines for the 2,398th straight week: This time, they succeeded in getting Mercedes-Benz to offer cloth seats as an optional alternative to leather, even though the company acknowledges that almost nobody will buy them. (link) And once again, PETA got on my nerves. It seems like I can't read a news story about these people without getting bothered.

What I don't understand is why, exactly. I have no problem with the ASPCA. I agree with PETA's cause in principle. In fact, I admire their considerable skill at bringing media attention and celebrity activists to their cause. They are masters at getting noticed and being heard.

I can think of many things about PETA that annoy me. For one, they are prone to hyperbole: That very article about cloth seats quotes one member saying that it's a "huge victory for animal rights." A few square feet of leather that no one will actually buy? That's a huge victory? Actually, for PETA I guess it is, since that's related to another annoying thing about them, that they place their cause above all others. War in the middle east, a tsunami in southeast Asia, genocide in Africa... no, the most important issues in the world today are leather seats, fur coats, and chicken habitats at KFC. Look, I have my own pet issues just like anybody (no pun intended), but I treat them like the marginal matters that they are, not with profound urgency. And PETA's desperate pleas for attention, featuring such notable dignitaries as Pamela Anderson and Dennis Rodman appearing nude in print ads and billboards, bring negative attention instead of positive; they serve to cheapen the cause.

For what it's worth, I know that PETA the organization is often dragged into the mud because of the extreme attitudes and actions of its individual members. When you hear about a crazy PR stunt on the local level, it's usually some individuals getting in on the act, with or without the approval of their local chapter. But the global organization has its own issues, like the aforementioned nude advertisements. Is this an organization asking for respect or for ridicule?

Anyway, all of the reasons I listed do not begin to get at the heart of why this organization is so... annoying. Just plain annoying. They're all negligible concerns when weighed against the goodness of PETA's mission. So why is this organization so frustrating? Could someone please put their finger on it for me?

Lori Lancaster | February 12, 2005
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Anna Gregoline | February 12, 2005
I started liking PETA a lot more once I started thinking of them as performance artists instead of an organization.

Jackie Mason | February 12, 2005
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