There are A LOT of people out there who make comments like “those guys are such idiots” and “they’re so stupid – why do they act that way?” in regards to animal rights activists. This is infuriating on two levels.
1) Animal rights activists are NOT dumb, contrary to popular belief. The board of directors and the leadership of The Humane Society of the United States are comprised of lawyers, MBAs, PhDs (in biochemistry, wildlife ecology and management and economics) veterinarians, doctors, CPAs and individuals with history and literature degrees (cough: Wayne Pacelle and Mark Markarian). These folks are most assuredly not stupid. I have a Masters of Science in Animal Science and it was a rough process and journey in my life. Getting a PhD is not any easier.
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – by the way, I don’t know anyone who isn’t for the ethical treatment of animals) is not much different. ‘Leaders’ armed with degrees in communications, journalism and accomplished debaters man the helm of perhaps one of the most extreme animal rights groups in the world.
2) I have said before how I am a very passionate person about a few things: rodeo, agriculture, K-State and my family. Because of this personality characteristic (which some cite as a flaw), I have deep respect for others who show that same amount of passion towards their hobbies and causes. Unfortunately, that respect flows over to people who want to put my family and I out a job. Ironic, eh? So these folks may be misguided – they don’t rely on proven science when it comes to livestock production and they do crazy stunts to get people’s attention – that’s passionate and smart, even if it is misguided.
By thinking that the other side is stupid, we’re putting them at a huge disadvantage. Underestimating our opposition is a costly mistake. Growing up playing softball, basketball, volleyball and roping I was taught to never underestimate the talent of the other team/individual. Just because someone may not consistently be winning doesn’t mean they won’t whup you if you’re not playing your best. You see it in college sports all the time – the underdog wins by a small margin because the bigger, better team thought it would be a cakewalk (cough: KU here, here and here).
Lastly, although they may be extreme, the actions taken by groups like PETA are effective because they garner hordes of media attention and they go after celebrities who don’t align with their views. Here are a few examples:
– Convincing Calvin Klein to stop designing with fur after leading a raid of his
– Pressuring GM to stop using animals in crash tests by storming
the auto company’s float in the Rose Parade
– Lobbying Gillette to
halt tests on animals by wheeling a TV into the company’s cafeteria to
show graphic undercover footage of the gruesome experiments.
Don’t forget stunts like this:
and this commercial that somehow tried to connect veganism and bedroom activites (although it was met with harsh criticism as being too sexually abusive in nature).
These were all smart campaigns and they won’t stop happening. The sooner that we as agriculturalists stop saying “they’re stupid” and start respecting their ingenuity and meeting it head on with our own intelligent acts, the sooner we can make headway on our own endeavors. I know that agriculture is doing a much better job than we were 5 years ago at outreach and engagement but we can always do better.
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~
As usual, this is my sole opinion and is not reflective of any other entity or individual’s thoughts or ideas.
OH! and p.s. – I am not a fashionista and this is not a fashion blog but I was so proud of myself for putting together a professional outfit that I just have to post it here! If you want real fashionista looks check out Sheridan’s blog