Jennifer Nelson:PETA is its own worst enemy

Who watches the watchdogs? That’s been the question of my week. While I’d typically say The Media, I know better than to assert that all newsworthy news actually gets reported (at least in print). It’s not our fault, really. Space simply does not allow for it.

Thankfully, we have the Internet. With its never-ending stream of useful and useless information, the Internet is the Big Brother of us all, a fact it has boasted many, many times this month as it battled to one-up The Watchdog of Watchdogs: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

The national animal rights group has been on a roll lately. And so has Big Brother. A sampling:

The Associated Press reported last week that PETA offered Hamburg, N.Y., officials $15,000 to change the town’s name to Veggieburg.

“The town’s name conjures up visions of unhealthy patties of ground-up dead cows,” spokesman Joe Haptas is reported to have said in a letter faxed to Hamburg Supervisor Patrick Hoak.

PETA offered to supply area schools with $15,000 worth of non-meat patties for the name change, saying “Our offer is serious as a heart attack.”

Hoak immediately declined the offer.

This suburb of Buffalo, named Hamburg since 1812, claims to be the birthplace of the culinary staple. Hamburg commemorates the birth of hamburgers at the annual Burgerfest.

The Associated Press article continued: In 1996, PETA proposed that the Hudson Valley town of Fishkill change its centuries-old name to Fishsave, since the group believed the name conjured up violent imagery of dead fish.

Dutch settlers named the town in the early 1600s. “Kill” is the Dutch word for “stream.”

Later in the week, Reuters reported that Ingrid Newkirk, the 53-year-old leader of PETA, had drawn up a will directing that her flesh be barbecued and her skin used to make leather products in protest at man’s ill treatment of animals.

Newkirk said Thursday she had chosen to donate her body to her organization for use in a variety of startling protests.

Newkirk also suggested her feet be removed and made into umbrella stands similar to those made from elephant feet that she had seen as a child.

“I want to find ways to have my work live on when I’m gone, and this has been my first idea. I will make a stir when I am long in the ground,” Newkirk told Reuters.

A PETA spokesman said Newkirk holds British and U.S. citizenship, and a copy of her will would be kept in both countries.

In the document, she also suggests her liver be vacuum-packed and sent to France to be used in a campaign to persuade shoppers not to buy foie gras, made from the livers of force-fed ducks and geese. Newkirk said, “When they go to the grocery store and buy foie gras in a tin, there is absolutely no thought of the geese. If my liver makes people talk about the issues then some good will come of it.”

But PETA’s boldest (and perhaps most idiotic) move yet, came earlier this year when the group launched an ad campaign that equated raising chickens in confinement to the Jewish Holocaust. The ads featured photos of Jewish death camp prisoners interposed with photos of chickens in crates with the caption: “The Holocaust on Your Plate.”

Newkirk should watch what she asks for. If PETA keeps this up and Big Brother keeps doing his job, PETA may very well succeed at one thing: turning people against it.