When Ingrid Newkirk opens her mouth — or in this case, grants an interview — you can be sure it will be over-the-top outrageous.
The founder of PETA is a self-described agitator and provocateur, and she sees her mission as one of gaining publicity for the “we-don’t-need-animals-and-we-never-did” messaging that her organization regularly spews onto the Internet.
So it’s no surprise that browsing her latest attempt at re-writing history, a piece on Collective-Evolution.com, would be light on rationality and heavy on ridiculous.
Start with Ms. Newkirk’s lame attempt at satire in the title of the article: “Calling This Sad Flesh Humane is Like Calling Britney Spears an Opera Singer.”
Nice try, but Britney Spears is a 35-year-old mom with two kids who goes on tour performing pop songs from the Nineties. She was a target for late-night comedy, like, 15 years ago. Way to dredge up a fresh pop culture reference, not to mention that for all her well-documented personal issues and tabloid lifestyle, even her worst critics never contended that she couldn’t sing.
But the more relevant statements in the article concern free-range production.
For all the imagery PETA loves to trumpet, showing piglets with their snouts stuck between bars, calves confined to a stall or the ubiquitous photos of cattle lined up at the feed trough, you’d think that PETA would consider the trend toward providing outdoor access and developing housing that allows birds some freedom of movement would be a good thing.
But of course, you’d be wrong.
“Free-range derived animal food and products refer to a system of farming where animals can roam freely outdoors, as opposed to being confined in a small space for 24 hours a day,” the article stated. “Sadly, this isn’t always the case. In fact, many ‘free-range’ farms actually cram thousands of animals together in sheds or mud-filled lots. This is done to increase profits.”
There is some accuracy in that assertion, because I have seen animals confined to “mud-filled lots.” And you know which animals are almost invariably the ones kept in those conditions?
Horses. You know, those herbivores that must never be eaten, but instead kept for their entire lives on somebody’s property — which inevitably turns into a mud-filled lot because unless you’re quite wealthy, you can’t afford to maintain extensive pastures for animals that don’t provide the profits that PETA considers such a dirty word.
Unless, of course, they’re going over their organization’s financial statements.
Fiction Stranger than Fact
The article then goes on to assert that, “Organically raised chickens can suffer higher mortality rates than drugged chickens because of extremely crowded, filthy housing conditions, coupled with a lack of antibiotics.” If that sounds like the dumbest way yet to condemn the poultry industry, you are correct: It’s incredibly dumb.
C’mon, PETA people. Get your stories straight. You’re not supposed to shock people into giving up meat by arguing that organic poultry are suffering from a lack of antibiotics. You’re supposed to turn people into vegans by comparing chickens raised for eggs to Nazis shipping the Jews off to concentration camps.
But there’s one other equally dumb contention raised in the article, and expounded on at length in other stories linked to the Britney Spears rant.
Of course, you’d expect PETA people to promote the “Human beings do not require meat to survive and live a healthy lifestyle” meme. That’s the veggie movement’s “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”
But now, the veganistas are doubling down on that contention. Here’s the quote:
“There is still much we don’t understand, and the connection between humans and what we refer to as our ‘ancestors’ isn’t solid enough to regard it as truth. Evolution is real, and can be seen throughout nature, but the human connection to it is still a mystery.”
So according to that warped reasoning, evolution is evident throughout nature — just not with Homo sapiens. Scientists have figured out the lifespans and the lifestyles of hundreds of species of dinosaurs and sea creatures that went extinct millions of years ago, but our human ancestors, whose paintings of the animals they hunted are still visible on cave walls all over Europe?
Who can say what they ate? That’s a mystery that would stump Charles Darwin.
“It’s clear when we examine the diet of those who roamed the Earth before us, that a large portion of their diet was vegetarian, and as outlined, possibly one hundred percent vegetarian for some individuals.”
So all those stone spear tips, flint arrowheads and fossilized animals bones that were cracked open and scraped clean with other stone tools that archaeologists keep finding in the caves that our “ancestors” lived in? I guess those were just for digging up plants, mashing up berries and maybe chopping up a bunch of leaves for a nice green salad to enjoy before sitting down to an entrée of cooked tubers.
Hey, maybe that’s where today’s chefs got the idea for “fire-roasted potatoes.”
I mean, human evolution is such a mystery, we can’t possibly figure out the dietary habits of people who drew pictures of themselves killing animals for food.
Who knows what they ate?
At least we can confirm one dietary certainty. Those primitive Neanderthals never got to sample a veggie shamburger, topped with cashew cheez and washed down with a slug of coconut-soy mylk.
The opinions in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, veteran journalist and commentator.