October 27, 2009

Do PETA’s Ends justify their Means?

Sex Sells…Ahimsa.

Sex! Violence! Why PETA chose obnoxious tactics for their feel-good causes.

Do PETA’s ends justify their means? Compassion through objectification, celebrity & violence.

PETA may be jerky but if you’re nice about vegetarianism no one pays attention. They made a decision to inject sexiness, obnoxiousness, and celebrity into the conversation. And it’s been effective—changing the policies of big chains like KFC and McDonald’s and Burger King.

As someone who writes nice, polite, thoughtful blogs about controversial subjects, and sees those blogs get scant attention, I can’t blame them for their tactics. We’ve posted on PETA many times before. Here and here and here and here and here and here and (deep breath) heeeeere and here and here and here. And every time we do, we get complaints that they’re mean.

Once in awhile, I post something with sexiness or meanness in a title, and I always see it get 10x the traffic as a nice thoughtful blog I do about a complex subject like…Silk Soy going “natural,” or TOMS Shoes making their wares in un-certified third world factories. Instead of screaming bloody murder or hypocrisy, I look at the issues and give folks a chance to improve. But when I do say, Naked Branson or Naked Yoga or whatever, the key is to keep the info in the writeup real, and grounded, even if the title or photo isn’t.

It’s a speedy, crazy world, and you have to go big sometimes to get attention and make change.

*Ironically, however, my biggest break of all time, my defense of Whole Foods against the calls for Boycotts following CEO John Mackey’s Wall Street Journal editorial against Obama’s Healthcare plan, was in the thoughtful vein. That article got picked up by the New York Times, Atlantic, and lived on the home page of Huffington Post for four days, garnering 500 plus comments.

Bonus, via The Onion:

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Adrienne Saia Dec 6, 2010 12:51am

I never liked PETA's tactics and completely gave up on trying to see the good in their message after the shameful testimony they gave in favor of putting down all of the dogs rescued from Vick's Bad Newz Kennels. As a pit bull-owning vegetarian, they disgust me. I was won over to the meat-free and, bully-breed owning dark side by logic and experience, not by shock and awe.

YogaforCynics Jul 12, 2010 5:53pm

Yes, they get attention, just as people who burn flags and and spit on soldiers get (WAY) more attention than your standard nice, civilized peace activists–and just look at how much good those people have done for the peace movement.

Aurora Jul 12, 2010 5:13pm

this is great:)

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Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.