There are many great bird and wildlife conservation organizations out there, and there are also many amazing organizations dedicated to eliminating animal cruelty and abuse, whether it is for domestic pets, zoos, wildlife, or agricultural livestock. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), however, is not an organization I can even begin to endorse or recommend.
Everyone has different views and beliefs, and I consciously try not to denigrate or disparage anyone’s personal convictions. We’re all entitled to our own viewpoints, and that, in essence, is the heart of Be Your Own Birder – to embrace rather than magnify our differences, and to recognize that we can each be our own selves but still be enjoying and appreciating birds.
But back to PETA. While I do agree with the organization’s core principles of treating animals ethically and responsibly, they often use radical and sensationalist approaches that create a mockery of the work they’re attempting. While those flashy messages do illustrate their points, their stunt-like shenanigans give them more of a comical, crazy-person vibe than any logical, well thought out approach. But if that’s the approach they want to use, they’re certainly entitled to do so, and it does, after all, get them in the news.
One of their recent campaigns, however, has just gone a bit too far (not like they’ve ever been shy about crossing those crazy-person lines before). The organization has released statements about “anti-animal” language with suggested alternatives to remove what they perceive as cruel language from our daily conversations.
There has been uproar about how PETA has equated such anti-animal language to racism and homophobia, and there have been many spoofs and jokes ridiculing PETA’s “speciesism” discussion with other figures of speech.
What I take exception to, however, is that in an effort to remove animal cruelty, PETA has actually encouraged one of the most well-documented, well-known ways to HURT wild birds – by feeding them sugary bread products. Bread is nothing more than junk food to birds, and sugary, iced breads are even worse, and may even be dangerously toxic to certain types of birds. While a rare, small treat of bread isn’t going to cause severe problems, by encouraging this language as a regular part of our language, PETA is completely disregarding its own logic.
Theoretically, these animal-centric idioms encourage animal cruelty in our society. Therefore, by saying “kill two birds with one stone” we encourage hurting birds, presumably by throwing rocks at them or otherwise killing them. Yet the organization doesn’t seem to realize that “feed two birds with one scone” encourages poor feeding habits, toxic foods, and long, lingering problems from obesity, poor nutrition, mold, and other consequences of birds eating bread products.
Everyone is telling PETA to lighten up and not take such innocent phrases quite so seriously, and I agree. I’ve personally never thrown stones at birds, though I’ve heard “kill two birds with one stone” all my life, and have even occasionally used the phrase myself. But they cannot take one phrase seriously while at the same time disregarding the replacement language they are promoting. It is this type of poor thinking and incomplete logic that detracts from the organization’s authority and makes it come off as nothing more than the joke so many people treat it as.
And besides, isn’t it cruel to scones?
Side note: I have nothing against scones, despite the damage they do to my waistline. But a yummy fruit or chocolate chip scone… Yes please! But there won’t be any left for birds, no matter what PETA might think.