PETA embarks on an idiotic, horribly inappropriate publicity stunt aimed at nothing more than grabbing a few minutes of air time and another round of gloating on activist blog sites.

Why is anyone still taking People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals seriously?


In the wake of the group’s latest over-the-top publicity pitch, whatever legitimacy its leadership has left ought to be permanently wiped out.

That’s because instead of pursuing its supposed mission to curb animal suffering, PETA wants anyone who even scans the news to suffer even worse when they encounter the group’s most recent stunt: Turning the late serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood home in Bath Township, Ohio, into a vegan restaurant.

“We regret that we won’t be able to move forward with this project, even though it was met with some enthusiasm, as well as some derisive comments,” said Moira Colley, PETA’s media officer, in an email sent to media outlets on Tuesday.

I can only imagine the gleeful scene at its Virginia headquarters as they hatched the scheme to purchase the house where Dahmer grew up and (pretend) to convert the property into a vegan restaurant they planned to call Eat For Life: Home Cooking.

Sick doesn’t begin to describe the perversion that Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA’s president, apparently wallows in — with no regrets and no apologies.

Newkirk sent a letter to the realty agent who listed the Bath Township house for sale, asked about the listing and proposing to make the house into a vegan restaurant. Why? “To respond to the past with something positive.”

Yeah, that’s why PETA made it known the group was “considering” buying the property.

Richard Lubinski of Stouffer Realty, the real estate agent, told the Akron Beacon-Journal he was not surprised that PETA dropped the proposal.

“I had to take it seriously, out of fiduciary duty to my client,” he said, “But with PETA’s history of these stunts … it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put two-and-two together” to determine it was all a publicity stunt.

Lubinski noted that two years earlier, PETA announced it planned to turn the Florida home of O.J. Simpson into a “Meat is Murder Museum.” Simpson’s home at the time was in foreclosure, and PETA asked the bank to donate the home to the group, which it didn’t.

Here’s the really sick part of this story: This isn’t the first time PETA has tried to cash in on Dahmer’s notoriety. In 1991, shortly before he was sentenced to life in prison, the organization took out a newspaper ad in the Des Moines Register comparing meatpacking operations to Dahmer’s mutilation killings.

Later, according to USA Today, PETA proudly claimed that its ad had generated coverage from 62 media outlets in 21 states.

In that article, Newkirk admitted, “Probably everything we do is a publicity stunt … We’re not here to shock and horrify, but sometimes you have to grab people’s attention.”

As bad as it gets

For those who might not remember one of the most gruesome serial killing episodes in American history, Dahmer’s “bio” is revealing: He sought out mostly African-American men at gay meeting places, lured them home to his grandmother’s basement, promising them money or sex. Then he would get them to drink alcohol laced with drugs before strangling them to death, having sex with their corpses, then infamously saving their skulls, sections of their skin and other internal organs.

We can only imagine what he did with those souvenirs.

Dahmer was eventually convicted of 15 killings, sentenced to nearly a thousand years in prison and sent to Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wis., where, he lasted less than three years before he was bludgeoned to death by a fellow prisoner, also a convicted murderer.

Far from trying to capitalize on Dahmer’s notoriety, the city of Milwaukee, where Dahmer committed most of his crimes, was so intent on distancing itself from the horrors of his killing spree that the city raised more than $400,000 to purchase — and incinerate — Dahmer’s refrigerator, photographs and collection of killing tools.

Milwaukee got it right. When a deranged serial killer finally meets his fate, you destroy his things, file away his records and stop talking about him ever again.

That doesn’t erase the horrors of what he did, nor the nightmares his victims’ families must endure, but at least it places him at about the same position on society’s priority list as the contents of the local landfill.

But not PETA. They have no moral code that stops its leadership from another shameless stunt that tries to capitalize on people’s morbid curiosity about someone who plumbed the depths of evil.

They have no conscience; we know that.

Why they still have any credibility is unfathomable.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.