We live in a time where fake news and click baits are overtaking the media, where it misleads people for one’s own benefit, and because of this, it is becoming harder and harder to distinguish whether a subject is legit or a hoax. Information is coming out fast, so fast that no one has the time or intention to double check nor to analyze its truth, as nowadays jumping to conclusions is easier than checking the source of a specific story. Headline-grabbing tactics usually involve shocking, usually horrifying materials, and readers are falling for almost every stunt that is used. The victims? Not only the readers, but the other parties involved implied in the subject as we already know, there are always two sides to every story.
A big issue of our times is that the truth becomes lost, dissolved between the lines of the news. If a news subject boosts media coverage, people automatically think that it is true but when it doesn’t, one of the involved parties are wrongfully harmed. This applies to the fur industry – an industry that is said to be cruel by the mass media and by paid activists who think that their voices are more important than the actual truth.
As an example, we are going to discuss the horrifying footage which appeared in 2009, captioned “A shocking look inside Chinese fur farms”. The shocking and explicit video was showing a Chinese man skinning an animal alive, which was then thrown away to die in torment a few minutes later. The purpose of this video was to blame the fur industry, which is pointed out as cruel, causing hesitancy between the misinformed consumers, leading to fur being dropped from the catwalk of Gucci and Burberry – causing a domino effect in the world of fashion.
Knowing that the video wasn’t legit, the International Fur Federation hired a team of investigators to debunk one of the biggest conspiracies meant to destroy the reputation of the fur trade. After some time, the team managed to track down the man who was skinning the animal alive in the video, and went to China to speak to him, where he confessed that he was bribed by a woman. In the beginning, the man didn’t want to skin the animal alive, as he knew that it’s inhuman and because he knew it would cause unbearable pain to the animal. Nevertheless, he carried out the horrible act because his superior told him that he was going to receive a lot of money from the activist in question. The video took over the media, was shared everywhere, and by the time the truth came out, it was too late.
For a publicity stunt, they paid an underprivileged man to do an unnatural and useless act of cruelty, only to obtain scandalous and mis informative material.
The real question here is, what was the real purpose of this unhuman act orchestrated by an unscrupulous activist who crossed every boundary just to benefit her and her employer from a behavior that is strictly not tolerated in the fur industry?
They would say that they did this for the sake of the animals used by the fur industry, but with what costs? On one hand, we have a tortured animal, skinned alive and left to die in agony and on the other hand, there is a man from a poor area, who was faced with a hard choice, to choose between money and committing an immoral act that left him traumatized, living with the feeling of guilt for the rest of his life. Apart from the first two obvious victims, we have a whole list of other sufferers: the honest and hard workers fur farmers who are displayed in bad light, fur traders, fur retailers, designers that are pushed to quit using fur and fur lovers who are blamed and pictured as cold-blooded for wearing it. All of this because one misleading and orchestrated heartbreaking video appeared on internet. Besides those directly targeted in the industry, another casualty is represented by all those individuals that believed the lie of some manipulating, cruel, so called “animal activist”, whose intention was to take down the fur industry in any possible way, for their own benefit. Even if it implies torture, deception and using other people to attain their goals. It is needless to say that this type of behavior is not aligning with the high-ethic values that they proclaim.
The activists would get their names in the news by any means necessary, so this publicity stunt shouldn’t surprise us, especially if we look at all the outrageous things done by PETA. It is obvious that activists would do anything necessary to enforce their point of view, and to assert their values using an insensitive and violent discourse. There are several examples of insensitive campaigns that PETA ran. In their eagerness to make their voices heard, they appealed to racist, cruel and sensitive issues, making references to the supremacist hate groups. They had a campaign called “Holocaust on your plate”, saying that the abuse of the Jews by the Nazis is similar to the farmers who raise animals. Not failing to mention that the CEO also said that “Six million people died in concentration camps, but six million broiler chicken will die this year in slaughter houses”. In addition to that, PETA claimed that the dog registry American Kennel Club (AKC) believes that all their dogs should have “pure bloodlines”, which a similar belief of the Ku Klux Klan. The demonstrators protested outside Westminster’s Kennel Club’s dog show in Madison Square, dressed up as KKK members.
Besides racist campaigns, they are well known for sexist commercials, most of them involving nudity. One of their most common headlines-grabbing tactics is using nudity, to lure people’s attention. The NGO used naked women in coffins, to show that “Fur is dead”, whereby they created an X-rated domain name with explicit adult content with very graphic images of animals and bare-skinned humans covered in blood, in meat trays, to reassemble the way meat is being sold in supermarkets. For this specific scenario, they picked the perfect location for the stunt – NYC’s Times Square.
Moreover, PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk posted a picture with a naked woman laying on a barbecue, saying that upon her death, her flesh should be used as a human grill, to remind the world that the meat of a corpse is all flesh, regardless of whether it comes from a human being or another animal. She also claimed that after she dies, she wants her skin to be used in leather products, such as purses and shoes. Those are examples of movements made to catch the headlines on the newspapers, and maybe they didn’t directly impact people’s emotions (like the racists campaigns), but they continued objectifying females in an insensitive manner with their video, ‘Women Explain What Rape Feels Like for Animals in the Food Industry’ insinuating they were victims of sexual assault, to represent the feelings of cows and pigs born in the food industry, which is insensitive towards the survivors of sexual abuse. The move is again showing their blasé carelessness, comparing the victims of rape to animals.
Supporting your opinion is a prolific and sane thing to do in a democratic society. However, only if it is done in a peaceful way where you respect other individuals, and as long as it doesn’t interfere with other people’s rights. But for those extremists, there are no boundaries, nor ironically, an ethic code for their actions. A group of animal rights went so far as to dig up a grandmother’s dead body as a punishment for her family that was breeding Guinea Pigs.
Unfortunately, those radicals are influencing people’s decisions for their own profit and benefit, changing policies, gaining more and more power, receiving more money out of donations, only because designers and the media chooses to promote them, incriminating the other side, because the latter may be controversial at first glance.
Now, considering all of the above and the below video, which side is more ethic?
Written by Bianca Margarit