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I'm a 20 year-old computer science and math student at the University of Toronto. I was born in Toronto, and I live in Toronto. Where I'll die remains to be seen.

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{Monday, January 13, 2003}


Oh No! I'm Mad at PETA!

Pardon the title. It seemed clever a few seconds ago. Say it fast and it's half-clever. Nevermind.

Anyway, poor jokes aside, there are some things about PETA that just ruffle my feathers. Not that I don't believe that animals deserve to be treated "ethically" (though I often disagree with the ethics employed), it's just that some of the techniques they employ are, ahem, misleading. One such device is the "WWJE" campaign (that's "What Would Jesus Eat".) And much like the "What Would Jesus Drive" debate that seemed to engulf the blogosphere a couple months back, this attempt to justify one's position with a specious appeal to the saviour of billions is rather weak.

I came across the campaign while I was looking at AskCarla.com's question of the week. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with AskCarla.com, here is PETA's description: "Carla Bennett, PETA’s Kindness Consultant, is here to answer all your questions—whether you want to know about the rights and wrongs of the circus or simply where to buy nonleather shoes!" Actually, I even have a beef with that description. Why the hell would PETA put "rights and wrongs of the circus" when there is absolutely nothing about the circus that they like, beyond the occassional lion-tamer fatalities and elephant stompings. Stupid humans...) Anyway, someone asked Carla (or so they would have us believe. There's no name or any kind of address. Hmm...) "Was Jesus really a vegetarian?" (More suspicion; I didn't realize that there were actually people dumb enough to think that Carla knows Jesus personally.)

Carla responded as follows: "Many biblical scholars believe that Jesus was a vegetarian. Jesus’ message is one of love and compassion, and there is nothing loving or compassionate about factory farms and slaughterhouses, where billions of animals live miserable lives and die violent, bloody deaths. Jesus mandates kindness, mercy, compassion, and love for all God’s creation. He would be appalled by the suffering that we inflict on animals just to indulge our acquired taste for their flesh. We all have a choice. When we sit down to eat, we can add to the level of violence, misery, and death in the world, or we can respect God’s creation with a vegetarian diet."

Intrigued (by the possibility that I may have hit blog fodder), I followed the link to JesusVeg.com, so that I might discover other reasons that Jesus must have been a vegetarian. I was hoping that the site would be filled with biblical references, all clearly pointing to Jesus's clear standing as a veggie. Alas, I was disappointed. The site simply repeated the answer Carla gave (word for word), and then proceeded to run for its life, attempting to bat down passages that seem to suggest that Jesus may have eaten meat. As well, there is a lot of running from other biblical passages that don't relate to Jesus at all. The responses to the passages were often misleading (consider this Q&A,) and one even admitted that if a person were stupid enough to interpret anything in the bible literally, then Jesus may not have been a vegetarian after all.

As PETA sites go, this one takes the cake. In addition to the usual preachy prose, the arguments take advantage of some people's most deeply held beliefs in underhanded, and evasive ways. To me, that doesn't seem particularly ethical.
posted by Dan 5:47 p.m.