PETA members as the KKKThe latest animal-rights campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) involves PETA members dressed as the Ku Klux Klan to dramatize the abuse of animals through breeding for profit.

PETA was demonstrating outside the Westminster Kennel Club’s dog show in Madison Square Garden, in a protest against the American Kennel Club (AKC), which PETA accuses of promoting the pure-breeding of dogs to the detriment of their health.

PETA has a long history of sensational and controversial publicity campaigns to draw attention to the plight of animals, which frequently bring charges of sexism, racism, or poor taste. In a 2005 campaign, for instance, PETA contrasted images of lynched black men with pictures of dead cows and asked, “Are Animals the New Slaves?”

Macon D, at Stuff White People Do, argues that “the implicit, boneheaded comparison that PETA makes here is that of KKK victims, primarily black people, to dogs,” and that PETA is “trivializing the threat that the KKK has represented to non-white people, and black people especially, by comparing that threat to animal abuse.”

Renee, at Womanist Musings, goes further:

The amount of insensitivity it takes to dress up like the KKK and attempt to draw a link between the breeding of animals to the terror that blacks have lived with for generations can only be described as the audacity of whiteness.

She goes on, describing PETA as

an organization that is built on nothing other than hatred. Their actions reveal a hatred of POC, women, and transgender people.

I believe in preventing cruelty against animals but not at the cost of dehumanizing the weakest members of society. Each one of these little campaigns that PETA runs does more harm to their cause than good. When people think of animal rights they think of PETA and immediately get turned off. Who wants to associate themselves with a movement that continually creates the vulnerable as “other.” What this campaign tells me, is that to PETA I am less than a dog.

Has PETA intolerably crossed a line, by comparing the abuse of animals to the terror and violence suffered by blacks at the hands of the KKK? Does this amount to comparing blacks to dogs, or trivializing the threat historically posed to blacks by the KKK? Is this a manifestation of white privilege, in which PETA is abusing the weakest (human) members of our society, and using the notion of blacks as “other,” in order to further their cause?

Or do all of these arguments depend on the assumption that human beings are inherently worth more than other animals?

30 Responses to “PETA uses white supremacy for animal rights”

  1. bobbo says:

    Put me down for making the choice that humans are worth more than other animals–and thats exactly why making an analogy with the KKK Kostumes is inappropriate.

    Also, when it comes to crossing that appropriate line, I much prefer when PETA uses/abuses nude women. I can't quite verbalize why, but it must play into one of those circumstances when diversity is a good thing?

  2. aaron says:

    i am a member of peta and i understand were this is coming from. all may not agree but thats why everyone has their own opinions and follow their own beliefs. we wont always agree, nor do we care. someones mind will be changed by the protest and thats what counts.

  3. pat says:

    What counts is that Peta stops their white saviour and neo-colonialist attidute. For instance, how do they date shame Inuits for their way of life? Want to stop useless animal abuse and save the earth ? Then throw Western capitalism in the bin.

  4. James says:

    Thanks, Aaron, for sharing your thoughts with us.

    I think you've hit on a key issue:

    someones mind will be changed by the protest and thats what counts.

    This is precisely what some people have been complaining about with PETA: that the organization seems willing to say or do almost anything to attract attention, in the hopes of changing minds, even if people are offended.

    It seems to me that the issue is whether there are lines which shouldn't be crossed, ideas which shouldn't be depicted even if there's a good cause at stake.

  5. bobbo says:

    I think the "campaign philosophy" can be more subtle than yet expressed. Certainly progress cannot be made/attention captured without the risk of offending "some" people. Nothing offends "all" people.

    So–giving offense is not the determining factor but rather judging the trade off? If you offend meat eaters/animal testers who will never support the goals of peta, what damage has been done? In fact, if peta were not the sponsoring agency, would the offending party have been offended or only put off a bit?

    I can't think of any "reasonable subject" that is "off limits" in the way James suggests. Take the current example analogizing animal rights violators to KKK members. I think it is silly, but not that offensive. Who would think it was offensive but the KKK? Maybe some Jews and blacks because they think the KKK is so much worse, but would they be that offended or just in mind that the analogy doesn't fit as well as it should?

    Like I said, can never go wrong with nekkid women, and that offends quite rightly quite a few.

  6. James says:

    I'll simply point out, bobbo, that I don't believe that any subject should ever be "off-limits," nor that our society should avoid topics merely because they offend some people.

    The issue here is whether certain subjects are important and sensitive enough that they shouldn't be exploited to gain advantage in other areas. In this case, it's one thing to say that we should be able to talk freely about the historic lynching of black Americans. It's quite another to say that the imagery of those events can be used for an unrelated marketing campaign.

    I'm reminded of the claims that Clarence Thomas, in his confirmation hearings in 1991, crossed a line when he tried to dismiss the Anita Hill investigation by saying that it amounted to "a high-tech lynching" of a black man. Many people, including many blacks, declared that it was inappropriate to draw a parallel to the systematic and racist murder of so many Americans in order to refute allegations of workplace harassment, especially by a black woman against a black man.

    The issue, in my mind, is whether there are certain subjects which are still so painful in American life, and rightly so, that they should not be invoked lightly or in the pursuit of other goals.

  7. bobbo says:

    Well, James, I've gone back and forth on my response. Wonder what I might conclude on this draft? I have to assume YOU think the analogy to KKK is insufficiently close to be warranted. Well, we basically agree as I said it was silly. But thats just you and me. How do we guage what everyone else thinks? What a majority of other people think? What a sufficient number of people think to make the campaign worthwhile?

    I think the Obama as dead chimpanzee and the raising of the Confederate Battle Flags are more offensive than this analogy to the KKK.

    Its not my value, but to those people who relate closer to animals than you or I do, wouldn't they see the analogy to the KKK as being more relevant and perhaps not invoked lightly at all? And isn't that what PETA is? So aren't they being pretty effecting in communicating what their values are by such a campaign?

    Who are we "not to care" so much about sub-humans. Who made THAT argument in the past?

    Whats the "value" in being insulted by ideas? Just another variation on the theme of control.

  8. aaron says:

    bottem line guys. its being done and you can complain all you like… the attention that is desired from PETA is being recieved. ever heard "any publicity is good publicity"… all the negative still draws attention to it and maybe instead of complaining you should see the issue that is being presented james.

  9. James says:

    Aaron, I believe I do see the issue that is being presented, and I certainly haven't objected to it in any way.

    I've discussed two potential issues, and both are matters on which judgments can differ.

    The first is whether or not there's a moral issue involved in using atrocities committed against one group of people to publicize a campaign for animal welfare. I've suggested that this issue may come down to whether or not humans are seen as more worthy of protection than other animals, and I recognize that PETA will therefore be inclined not to have an ethical problem with this.

    The second issue is whether or not this campaign will actually be effective for PETA, and here I think you may be being naive. PETA is certainly receiving more publicity for this campaign than it would have with a less controversial campaign. Whether this is beneficial to PETA's cause, or not, isn't at all obvious. I think it's entirely possible that there are people would would have been sympathetic to this cause who see the above moral issue differently, and therefore may reject PETA's message on this and other issues.

  10. aaron says:

    i believe, like all PETA members im sure do, that any protest we stage no matter what cloths are being worn or if some people find it offensive that it does take a step toward a change for the animals. you may not see in the paper all the things that are changed but when you are an activist you know about them. for example the first charges pressed against the men who were inhuman in the turkey farm. they are going to be charged, yet not alot of people know about this. i do understand that people will see the KKK as offensive, but its not meant to be in any manor toward blacks or any other race or religion… its meant to look bad against the KKK and thats not what people are seeing. the KKK is being defelected as a hate ridden abusive group, which is exactly what they are. i may just be a little white girl but i can see that. people of color are seeing the outfits and assuming the worst which makes other people talk about the protest and see the wrong side of things.

    as for humans being more worthy of protection then animals, absolutly not. we as humans are animals too and we should all be treated equal. you wouldnt want to be hung upside and have your throat slit to become somones dinner, nor would you want to be forced into a cage at a circus for entertainment while you belong in the wild… this is all the same as being forced to prance around as a dog and judged for our entertainment.

    people who "reject" PETA's ideas and protests have the own opinion and they have a right to it. but 90% of those people turn their backs because they dont want to see the truth. they want to go out and eat a big hunk of flesh and not know how it gets to their plate… they want to wear the fur coat that is so "beautiful" regardless of how many animals were skinned alive for it. people see what they want to see and no matter how questionable a proteset may be, there will always be the people who want to fight against it and say that PETA is wrong because god forbid they should have to change THEIR way of thinking. fighting everything doesnt make you right and it doesnt make you wrong… its make you selfish (i am not refering to you james, im stating in general)

    i just dont think that it is fair for people to just look away bc of something someone is wearing or a sign they are holding. the planet is dieing from the meat we eat and the wild animals are turning on us because we put them in captivity. OPEN YOUR EYES PEOPLE, stop looking at the KKK outfits and see the message.

  11. James says:

    i believe, like all PETA members im sure do, that any protest we stage no matter what cloths are being worn or if some people find it offensive that it does take a step toward a change for the animals.

    It would be remarkable, Aaron, if nothing PETA could possibly do would turn away more people than it would attract. I could easily think of irrefutable examples, and I'm sure you could, too.

    If you're confident that nothing PETA has actually chosen to do is counter-productive, then you're more confident about that than I am.

    people of color are seeing the outfits and assuming the worst

    With all due respect, they're not. The discussion here, and those I've linked to, correctly interpret PETA's protest as invoking the KKK as a vilified group to make an analogy.

    People are objecting to exactly what you say PETA is doing, namely, using that memory in an analogy to the treatment of animals.

    i am not refering to you james, im stating in general

    That's good, Aaron, since for all you know, I might be a lifelong member of PETA, and more radical about animal rights than you are. 🙂

    i just dont think that it is fair for people to just look away bc of something someone is wearing or a sign they are holding.

    It may not be fair, Aaron, but that's precisely the point.

    You can decide that it's worth protesting using this analogy to race-based murder, no matter the public reaction. But you can't simply assume that people who would otherwise support PETA's goals might not consider the comparison to be out of bounds, and reject the message.

    As I said, they see the message. They just aren't convinced of the ethics of spreading the message in that way.

  12. aaron says:

    PETA will always do things to grab attention and obvisouly its going to have everyone agree. if everyone did agree then everyone would go veg, not wear fur, there would be no animals testing, no zoos, no circus, no dissection in school, no milk products, no dog shows… i am quite aware that this is our goal but i am also aware that there will ALWAYS be poeple who will refuse to agree with it. there will always be a fight again what PETA stands for. someone will continue to beat or starve their animals, people will continue to consume animals as a food… at least in the short time that i am on this earth i do not believe that ALL of these things will change. never will all the people on earth choose to take the same beliefs and never will everyone be holding hands and agree on the same things. its obvious that there will always be people who dont think what PETA and other groups do it right… and there will always be that group of people who refuse to believe that they are trying to do good. but as i stated in my first comment … someones mind will change because of this protest, and i meant in a good way. someone will decide not to show their dog because it is wrong, someone will see MEAT YOUR MEET on youtube and they will decide to become a veg, or to not take their kids to the circus… even if its only one person at a time, the point is to grab attention, and yes sometimes in extream ways, to help the well being of all the creaturs on this earth.

    and James, even if you choose to think this portest is wrong or you dont agree for your own reason, maybe there will be a day when you will look into some heart pressing topics on your own. dont look at what PETA has to say… just think about all the things that they stand for and all the good they are tyring to do… look past all of the costumes and the naked women on the streets that protest and look for yourself. maybe you will see that alot of things happening are very wrong, outside of using the KKK to make one statement. i hope that everyone can do that. and maybe some day… instead of having to voice our opinions on a blog… we can have a happier, not so polluted eart.

    but i do value what i have read on here, and i understand all of the points you have stated. 🙂

  13. James says:

    i am quite aware that this is our goal but i am also aware that there will ALWAYS be poeple who will refuse to agree with it. there will always be a fight again what PETA stands for.

    But this isn't the issue here, Aaron. The issue is people who might agree with PETA's goals, but who disagree strongly with its tactics, not what it stands for.

    someones mind will change because of this protest, and i meant in a good way.

    I'm sure that's true, but it's also possible that a hundred people will turn against PETA, simply because of the tactic it chose for this protest.

    James, even if you choose to think this portest is wrong or you dont agree for your own reason, maybe there will be a day when you will look into some heart pressing topics on your own.

    Thanks, Aaron, but I'm already quite familiar with the issues PETA advocates, and my assessment of those issues isn't affected by the tactics PETA uses in its publicity campaigns.

    This is one reason why I'm glad that you came here to voice your opinion, and I'm glad that you're fighting for what you believe in, even if I'm not as sure as you are that these tactics will prove effective in practice.

  14. bobbo says:

    Aaron – I recommend you take Jame's counsel. I think you are greatly confusing tactics with goals.

    By analogy: lets say that criminals are holding innocent people hostage and are going to kill one per day until people stop eating meat.

    They would get noticed, but is their tactic a good one? Assuming you think that tactic is "not good" just recognize it is on a curve of increasing shock value as all tactics are. Your analysis/justification needs to be a bit more insightful.

    I support anti-cruelty statutes whether the issue is animals or people, but I don't equate animals with people==for the same reason I don't equate fetuses with people, or zygotes with people, or sperm and egg with people. There are similarities, but there are differences too.

    Only zealots ignore the differences whether they are pro or anti cruelty, its the same process of looking at only part of the picture.

  15. aaron says:

    i think that the tactics used are fine. i dont think that using radical protesting or something they we know not all people will see ok is wrong.

    like i said everyone is allowed an opinion and thats what we all have free will…

    i am very confident in PETA and i will stand by them and what they do. i am very proud of myself for working toward a change whether or not people feel the approach is a good one. that is were i stand.

  16. bobbo says:

    Aaron–let me rephrase your point: "I am convinced of my goal, therefore I don't care what anyone else thinks."

    Hopefully, when you get treated in this very same way by other people on other issues, you will recognize where they stand.

  17. aaron says:

    never once did i say that i dont care what anyone else thing BOBBO do dont go putting words into my mouth. i believe what i believe and you believe what you believe and i have stated many times that i respect what other think and i NEVER have looked down on someone who doesnt agree with my ways or what i think is right. so before you ASSUME things and made rude comments, check your facts, cause you dont know me and i dont appreciate being degraded when i have said nothing wrong.

  18. bobbo says:

    Well Aaron–I NEVER said you said those words. I said "let me rephrase what you said" which is expressly saying you did not say those words.

    I am rephrasing what you said ever so slightly so that "you may see yourself as others do." Not everyone of course.

    Still, I reread very carefully what you posted and you may indeed be as willing to let others be as you suggest. If that is true, your use of the KKK is misleading. I for one believe the KKK should be put in jail. Is that what leaving others to be free means to you?

  19. aaron says:

    of corse the KKK should be in jail. i am EXTEAMLY against what they do, which is exactly why they are used in this protest… to compare the harsh things they do, to they harsh things the AKC does. you have to remember bobbo that just because i am a memeber of PETA and that i back 99.9% of the things that they do, that doesnt mean that i am one of those people dressed on the streets this way. had it been a protest closer to me i would have been there, though in this instance i was not. i feel like you are attacking me because i support this cause, and yet i never have once attack you, or anyone in these posts.

    but like i stated when speaking with james, people are seeing the KKK and reacting in a negative manner toward that, when really the KKK is meant to be the BAD GUY in this situation. they are not being promoted as good, or someone that should be looked at in a good way what so ever. i think that you are only seeing the side that you want to see and now you are coming at me as if i am walking around in a KKK outfit and telling poeple to join THAT GROUP. that is exactly opposit of what i am standing up for and i hope you can understand that. in every respect i do see that they are an offensive group and i have quite a few friends that i had to explain this to also…

    look at the bigger picture bobbo, the bigger picture.

  20. bobbo says:

    Aaron–I don't think you understand what a metaphor is. Symbolism. I think people should be allowed to eat meat if they want to. You are proud to stand for the proposition that that makes me a KKK member. The KKK should be put in jail because they are terrible people. You therefore think that people who eat meat, like me, are bad people and should be put in jail.

    That is what you are communicating by the metaphor to the KKK. Is that what you really mean?

  21. bobbo says:

    Just caught the Colbert Report from yesterday and "Shmeat." A Peta spokeswoman was announcing a $1Million reward for developing meat tissue/replacement that is grown in a petri dish. Seems peta is not against meat eating as I referenced above, but really is against causing animals distress and pain.

    Hmmm. I don't think all Peta-vegans think that way? Otherwise, Peta could push for the painless chemical putting to sleep of animals? That doesn't address the factory raising of animals but does address one of the more dramatic aspects of husbandry.

    I used to work at a poultry ranch. I can't imagine a chicken being "happy" or "sad." All gods creatures should still be treated as kindly as possible.

  22. aaron says:

    i think that obvisouly by you putting the second message there you didnt know as much as you thought. and ONCE AGAIN the KKK reference is not at all directed to meat eaters its to the AKC, so please before you start an arguement, know what your talking about.

  23. bobbo says:

    Aaron==you are absolutely correct. Because of past campaigns by Peta and this campaign with people dressing up as the KKK, I think Peta is losing its well reasoned arguments and is in sum: just silly.

    See how choosing the symbols of your message does affect your ability to get your message out?

  24. aaron says:

    the thing is, i disagree. i dont think PETA is losing anything. i can understand to some, im sure it is… but that will any arguement. as much as anyone would like to have everyone agree with them, i know its not reality and it will not happen. but i also dont believe that this is any worse than any other thing they have done. PETA has done alot of eye catching things… but this one happens to draw your attention, there are some people that could care less about this and another thing they do will draw their attention. i think thats part of the point… to get different people to see different things. other wise what would be the point

  25. bobbo says:

    Hey aaron–thanks for hanging in there. I was even going to do two in a row to tell you I didn't even read the article closely enough to recognize this Peta demonstration was about stopping the cruel interbreeding of defects to get a show dog/cat/rabbit/etc. We agree completely. Let the pug nose grow to where the dog can breathe.

    But what does that show except for one small example, the Peta message got completely lost, not evaluated, NOT NOTICED, because of the use of the KKK symbolism.

    As long as you/Peta recognize you don't reach some people who would actually support you, and you "really do" think you are reaching enough other people otherwise, then I say==go for it.

    Maybe a residual question would be "Why do you want the notice of people who are attracted to the KKK?" but that is complex indeed.

  26. aaron says:

    im glad you fully read the artical and now understand what its about. and as for your question…

    Why do you want the notice of people who are attracted to the KKK?”

    without getting too deep into it, its not to attract those who like the KKK, more to attract opposite attention, the people who hate the KKK. because those are the people who know the horrible things they have done. and they will understand how we compare it with "one race/one breed" world. its simply to show people that the AKC is not looking for a variety of animals to say they are beautiful but to show just a specific breed, which is what the KKK wants, one race. not only is it ludacris to think that we would ever only have white people on earth like the KKK wants but its just as ludarcis to think that we would have only full bread dogs. i see how alot of people will jump the gun with the statment as a whole when they see people walking around dressed in such a way… but this was what i had said earlier with people being closed minded and only seeing what they want to see. its about opening your eyes and seeing things outside of the box and actually understanding what other are trying to say, without just seeing the evil… because in this case, the evil was shown in that way… evil, hoping at attract the people who see it as such was the main goal.

  27. bobbo says:

    Aaron–I take the import of your message. From now on, whenever I see some nutcase railing to his imaginary foe, rather than think just that I will approach them and engage them fully to see if there is a worthwhile message at the core of their lunacy. I'll be thinking of you and PETA when doing so. Thank you.

  28. aaron says:


  29. anonamous says:

    i hate you stupid peta people theres nothing wrong with eating meat its good for you. just get you heads out of you [expletive deleted] and see that we are doing the earth a favor by keeping the earths population controled.

  30. James says:

    Anonymous, I would appreciate it if you would not make personal attacks upon those who choose to comment here. You may disagree with PETA, and you may feel that you hate its members, but they are not stupid.

    As for eating meat, you may not have any moral qualms about doing so. However, it is hardly a particularly healthy eating habit compared with non-meat diets.

    For instance, you might want to look at an article from yesterday's New York Times entitled "Paying a Price for Loving Red Meat." The article explains that according to the latest scientific research, red meat is actually quite dangerous for human health, at least in the quantities typically eaten in the U.S.

    In the latest study, higher levels of meat consumption were associated with a 20% to 40% increased risk of death, especially from heart disease and cancer. This translates into about 150,000 Americans dying prematurely each year.

    Of course, one response to this research would be to eat red meat only in moderation, or to eat other types of meat (such as poultry or fish). However, a vegetarian diet is also perfectly healthy, and much more so than the diet of the average American meat-eater.

    In short, it's simply not accurate to say that "there's nothing wrong with eating meat," or that "it's good for you."

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