Dissecting PETA’s cause

When PETA made the call last week for Ben and Jerry’s to switch over to human breast milk, it certainly caused a stir.

While attention-grabbing and exciting, what does this stunt actually accomplish?

It is, of course, a piece of satire – in the tradition of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” – designed to stir up controversy in order to prove a point, but what point will PETA genuinely make here?

The most pronounced effect of this will likely be to push PETA’s ideals toward the far fringes of the frequently-maligned animal rights movement.

Public criticism of PETA and other groups’ uncommon tactics is often merited. These stunts fail to discuss the issues on terms shared by the common person – rather than draw out a comprehensive, perhaps less explosive, argument, PETA has chosen to pursue a tactic that will attract agreement only from those already on board with the human milk ice cream idea.

It isn’t clear what exactly PETA is pushing for, either. How are we to agree or disagree with their principles when there has been no fully realized and articulated argument? True, there may have been something released to back up their point, but who will end up looking at that support? We haven’t heard much substantive discussion of the matter ourselves beyond the simple, emotional “oh my god” reaction to PETA’s proposal.

We don’t disagree with everything they do that might seem shocking. Videos smuggled out of processing plants depicting the unnecessary abuse and mistreatment on factory farms actually carry some sort of narrative that helps PETA’s case. They lay out evidence for a specific point and direct people to a cause that is actually supportable.

This stunt, on the other hand, does not do this and we wish PETA and other environmental and animal rights organizations would abandon these campaigns.

If they, or anybody for that matter, wish to communicate effectively to people outside their own fold, they must do so on terms other than their own.