PETA has made a name for itself around the world in its quest for animal rights. One of their current activities is a lawsuit against Seaworld, claiming that they are violating the US’ 13th Amendment ban on slavery.

It might almost seem like something that might require support. As I’ve been reading and thinking more about the question of animal rights it becomes clearer and clearer that the mainstream view of animals is often cruel and never consistent. Each case about animals is dealt with separately and not in relation to any specific set of ethical ideals. For example there is the outcry over the eating of dogs and cats in certain Asian countries while not having a problem eating cows or pigs. The only difference there is that one is considered a pet, there is no ethical difference between the two. Indeed you seldom hear why humans should have special rights while animals should not.

The problem with PETA though is that it is hypocritical. They jump between rights-based and utilitarian ethics at seemingly random moments, decrying farming for food but supporting euthanasia, calling de-clawing of cats cruel but encouraging their sterilisation and suing Seaworld for slavery while advocating restricting the movement of cats. All this suggests that they haven’t put work into coming up with a proper framework for dealing with animal rights, a major failing for a group that claims to be the largest animal rights organisation in the world. In addition they claim to be an organisation promoting ethical conduct but they do so through unethical and even harmful means, such as illegal raids and funding known terrorist organisations, leading to the USDA categorising them as a “terrorist threat“.

There is a lot of work still to be done in terms of animal rights and it will be slow because it will mean taking a whole new look at the world and our place in it. It will be worth it though but we cannot move to that point through groups such as PETA.


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