PETA has succeeded again.
PETA's thing is to draw attention to animal suffering and cruelty. By doing this they hope that you will get off your butt and stop it. You, individually, are probably not hurting many animals right now. But our collective lifestyle -- eating meat, wearing fur, consuming dairy and basically anything with more than two ingredients -- involves animals dying. We're blessed with not having to decapitate a chicken if we want chicken in this part of the world, but that doesn't mean that the chicken keeps its head. And spend enough days not cutting chicken heads off, we begin to forget that meat really is dead animal flesh, and we're eating the severed leg of an evolved dinosaur because we like the way it tastes.
I say this as an omnivore. I appreciate being made to think about my choices, and I know it's not PETA's intention to have me do the exact same thing I always do except wiser, but maybe that's a small victory. Maybe enough PETA campaigns, and my daughters refusing chicken nuggets once they find out it's not just named after chicken but is ground-up bird muscle, and a heart attack or two, will unite to make me vegan.
Their newest target is Mario, and his 3D land Tanooki suit. Which, if it were real, would require the killing of a tanooki. Or, you know, fake fur. But in PETA's book, fake/digital fur encourages actual fur wearing, so Mario is guilty.
He's also playable, in a minigame that redefines meat-is-murder by being murderously hard, and that turns you into instant meat. Autoscrolling? Blind jumps? At least they, uh, homaged Mario with a pretty accurate (albeit bloody) SNES Super Mario World sprite.
An animal rights group (not PETA, a -- believe it or not -- more extreme group) targeted me for a letterwriting campaign. In a former job the magazine I was working for was going to attend a conference with a trade show. One of the attendees at the trade show was a pharmaceutical company, and thus was involved in animal testing for its preclinical trials. This group apparently struck out trying to change the company, so they were using the same pressures on people tangentally related to the company, ie, us. My name, email, and phone number, along with my coworkers' were listed as being in the thrall of big pharma. We must be stopped, they said: action is required.
So I got emails. And phone calls. And, possibly, a bomb threat -- it was more of a "you know, one of the other people who refused to change his ways had his car blown up" statement. The author was warning me of others with malicious intent. Except what they wanted from my magazine was that we boycott this trade show unless a company we had no ties to other than sharing a convention hall was booted out. We didn't. My car stayed unbombed. No animals were harmed.
But just because you dislike some of the tactic of some of the people making an argument doesn't mean you can discount the entire argument. I'm still torn about animals, as I probably should be so long as I still eat meat. And as manipulative as PETA is, their tactics may be the only way to confront people who live life with blinders on.