Will the Atheists Give Peas a Chance?

You know that whole fake controversy going on in Santa Monica, California right now, where atheists won 18 of the 21 spots for “holiday” displays (a Jewish group got 1 and Christians got 2)? Remember how the atheists ended up only using 3 of their 18 spots and left the rest of them vacant?

Well, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) would like to borrow one of the atheists’ spots for one of their own campaigns:

Here’s the letter sent to Damon Vix, who spearheaded the atheists’ campaign:

December 23, 2011

Dear Mr. Vix,

As an atheist, a friend of the late Madeleine Murray O’Hare [sic], and a former speaker at the American Atheists convention in Florida long ago, may I ask for your help? Would you be so kind as to allow PETA to use one of the vacant spaces you have so cleverly obtained in the Santa Monica “nativity lottery” so that we can set up our “Give Peas a Chance” billboard? As you well know, many bloody wars, from the Crusades to Bosnia and more, have been sparked by religious disputes. This billboard shows people of various ethnicities breaking bread and encourages peace on Earth regardless of whether one is of any religion or none. The billboard asks that everyone give a thought to the more than 1 million animals per hour who are mutilated on factory farms, transported in all weather conditions, and slaughtered in deeply frightening places simply to celebrate holidays or to satisfy a fleeting taste — and all because they are “different” from us in unimportant ways. We would be happy to support your efforts and to point out that the tenet “Blessed are the merciful” should surely mean showing mercy to all, not just to those you agree with or relate to. Adopting an all-inclusive consideration for others does not require that anyone believe in Jesus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but simply in kindness, the greatest virtue of all.

Please let me know right away and we’ll be there. Thank you.

Yours truly,

Ingrid E. Newkirk
President

Note to Damon: Please don’t. Even as a vegetarian myself, PETA makes me cringe.

(via LAist)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Bailey

    Please, please don’t. PETA is awful. I’m all for treating animals ethically, but PETA is so not the way to go for that. 

  • http://twitter.com/Buffy2q Buffy2q

    Agreed.  I’m a vegetarian and firm supporter of ethical animal treatment but PETA is too extremist for me. 

  • http://twitter.com/gingerjet gingerjet

    Not sure which I dislike more – peas or PETA. 

    Naw … i’ll take PETA for the win for dislike.

    • Michael

      Depends if they’re deep-fried or not.

  • Cynthia Soderlund

    I feel the same way about PETA, but this is a good message.  We should encourage them when they do something sane like this.  

    • http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/ Garren

      Yeah, I’m really digging this particular sign.

    • Anonymous

      My concern is that the name PETA is beyond tarnished now: it’s ruined.  PETA has acted in such a way that they rile up opposition more than allies. They are the reason that people wear “People Eating Tasty Animals” hats for example.

      It’s true that I’m not personally a proponent of veganism in the first place. However, it is not just that, but also the fact that I think they do a disservice to animal rights that makes me reluctant to support a campaign like this, even if tamer. Nobody will take seriously anything by PETA now anyway. I don’t think we really want to be associated with an organization like that.

  • Heidi

    I say yes, let them put it up. Best to give PETA something good to do with their time and money for a change.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    I love peas but now I’m going to type like an angry Christian!

    FUCK OFF PETA!

  • Cutencrunchy

    The letter was nice and reasonable and the cause is certainly valid and well expressed – I say of course do it! 
    I don’t know why the spots are vacant but let’s not monopolize if we aren’t using them allow others to- regardless of the different expressions (we may not always agree) but the diversity itself is a winning result.

    • Brian Macker

      Yeah, but PETA is not nice and reasonable.

  • http://twitter.com/gneekman Dylan Caple

    PETA is batshit insane, in my opinion. They proved that yet again with their “protest” against Super Mario’s tanuki suit.

  • Anonymous

    PETA?  Really?  We can do better.  Much better. Let the religious folks have them.

    • Observer

      Now THAT’S religious discrimination.

      • Coyotenose

        That doesn’t even make any sense.

    • Brian Macker

      I was thinking that.   In fact I find it offense that they took spots and are not using them.    This was a lottery for use not for blockage.   They are wasting taxpayer funds used to set up the sites.    

  • Vukota

    I am an atheist, a vegetarian (hopefully one day vegan) and probably care more about animal welfare/rights than 99.9999% of the people in this world and I still wouldn’t put up that billboard. PETA is a joke and is totally counterproductive to the animal rights cause.

  • http://agardeninthesun.blogspot.com/ renoliz

    Just say NO to PETA.

  • Cyncate

    I say no because they do not want peace with the group they are asking help for… its a plot against all atheist’s, you can tell because she starts out declaring she is an atheist.  Who does that?  It is so tacky.  Besides what if a group wanted to have a bbq or order a meat lovers pizza, that would just be awkward. 

  • Anonymous

    I think they have a convoluted idea of what is considered ethical.  From what I gather, PeTA animal shelters practically chomp at the bit to euthanize animals, they euthanize at a far greater rate than non-PeTA shelters.  Not really the kind of organization I’d want to associate with.  Besides, if they wanted a spot, they could have entered the lottery themselves.

    • Rich Wilson

      PeTA thought Michael Vick’s dogs should all be euthanized (to be fair, the ASPCA thought so too).  Most of them are now living happy lives with families.

      If you’re a dog, and even PeTA thinks you should be killed, it is not looking good for you.

      http://video.pbs.org/video/2036906554 

  • Drew M.

    PETA: The Westboro Baptist Church of animal rights groups.

    Hell no.

  • http://twitter.com/ThyGoddess Michelle

    Please. No. Peta deserves no support.

    And I’m not saying that because I’m a bacon loving, chocolate milk drinking capitalist. I’m saying that because they are AWFUL PEOPLE.

  • http://freedune.wordpress.com/ freedune

    Please list the other organisations promoting the cause of vegetarianism or veganism or kindness to other animals in a visible and effective manner without resorting to extremism.

    • http://twitter.com/SkepticalBully Skeptical Bully

      PETA has been shown to directly support at least one firebomber financially and members of various violent animal rights groups (ALF, etc).  But that’s not extremism so it’s all good.

      I personally hate PETA for their terrible message to kids (“Your Mommy Kills Animals” ), its hypocrisy (killing a large percentage of the animals in its shelters) and acts of harassment and arson it either advocates or commits toward people in every animal-related industry including animal shelter staff.

      • Josh

        They gave a man named Rodney Coranado $70,o00 in 1998. Guess who was later convicted of arson for bombing an MSU research facility.

        • Josh

          To be fair that was 15 years ago, but I doubt very much that things have changed significantly.

      • Brian Macker

        Which shows they might be for peas but aren’t for peace.

    • Brian Macker

      ASPCA for one.  Well not the crazy veganism but the kindness to animals.   

  • jalyth

    I don’t really care either way. I agree that this sign is highly unprovocative, which imo is appropriate. I’ve disliked some of the messages on some of the atheist displays. It’s one space I think we should be as nice as possible.

    Side note: I bet most people would put Peta on a par with rapists, if that were a survey question. 

  • Trina

    After reading stats recently of the ‘kill rate’ in PETA’s ‘shelter,’ I’m not inclined to give the group the time of day. 

  • MickyShroff

    PETA gets results. If you care about animals, here’s what you need to consider:

    McDonald’s spends more than a billion dollars a year on advertising. That’s just one company. PETA can’t match that without resorting to stunts.

    You may not agree with their methods, but they get results. They force people to think of their ways.

    And that’s the reason I <3 PETA.

    • https://www.facebook.com/GentleGiantDK GentleGiant

      Religious nuts who fly planes into buildings or strap bombs to themselves also force people to think of their ways.  Should we humour those people too?
      And what results are you thinking of exactly? The number of animals they (PETA) have killed themselves?

    • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0120a5509de8970c Mikko

      PETA kills animals instead of finding them new homes

    • Brian Macker

      So you think the only reason I eat hamburgers (and other meat) is because of where the advertizing is spent?    The only thing PETA made me think of is what a bunch of nuts they are.

  • Greisha

    I like peas even though I am not veterinarian, but PETA is an organization of extremists.

    Let’s not have anything to do with them, please.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    DO NOT WANT.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    “Kindness is the best religion of all.”

    So be kind to peas, eat Soylent Green.

  • Kullervo

    Can’t do it. I’m a blood donor, and even as an omnivore I’ve had issues keeping my deep iron reserves up. Yes, there are vegetable sources of iron, but they are much less readily absorbed than meat sources. I feel my moral obligation is first to my fellow human beings rather than to animals. I don’t have a rare blood type, but I am cytomegalovirus negative, so my blood can go to pregnant women, infants, and cancer patients. My father needed blood frequently in the last months of his battle with cancer, and I will do what it takes to be there for the next person in need.

  • T-Rex

    Meat good. PETA bad.

  • Gunstargreen

    I don’t like PETA but I do like that advertisement. I’m conflicted.

    • Brian Macker

      Save the peas!

  • Anonymous

    PETA is truly a pain in the ass, but the message isn’t that bad.

    Better yet, if they have all those vacant spaces, they should get them filled with other secular groups who may want a space. Maybe MSF could use a place to put a charity message up. The local animal shelter might appreciate a chance to encourage adoptions. Instead of a bunch of empty spaces, you could fill it up with secular and worthy information.

  • MDSD

    Wow there is so much misinformation on this page. Usually atheists pride themselves on knowing the facts but these comments are nothing but a nod to mainstream media. Whether or not you like PETA’s tactics, they moved the movement for better treatment of animals to the forefront in the last decades, which is awesome in my opinion. Using animals for food has been bad for humans (meat and dairy production produce between 20-50% of greenhouse gases, pollute the planet, have made the US obesity and heart attack capital of the world, and of course, cause billions of living, breathing, feeling, animals to have short miserable lives). Using animals for testing and entertainment is simply cruel. Wake up atheists and read the science. And give PETA a break.

    • coyotenose

      Can you point to anything on this thread anyone said that was actually wrong? Or are you just going to stick with that straw man that nobody was arguing?

    • Anonymous

      “Wow there is so much misinformation on this page. Usually atheists pride themselves on knowing the facts but these comments are nothing but a nod to mainstream media.”

      Rather than resorting to the common trope of blaming the mainstream media, how about pointing out this alleged misinformation and proof that it is misinformation?

  • Coyotenose

    PETA is full of crackpots, but this ad is tasteful (cough cough) and in the spirit of the “Reason’s Greetings” kinds of ads.

    However, I wouldn’t put it past them to switch to a different sign once they secure written permission to use the space.

  • Anonymous

    PETA has done a great deal to create awareness of the cruelty inflicted on animals every day on an unfathomable scale. People get angry at PETA for making them think about the cruelty that they support by buying meat/dairy/eggs from factory farms. Don’t blame the messenger. If you find animal cruelty upsetting, change your own behavior and encourage others to do the same.

    PETA’s billboard expresses a message of kindness as well as religious (and un-religious) tolerance and diversity. I sincerely hope their offer is accepted by Damon Vix.

    • Anonymous

      If you’re really against animal cruelty, why would you throw your support behind an organization that rabidly euthanizes animals?

      • Anonymous

        Euthanasia has become a unfortunate necessity due to the great number of people who choose to buy pets from pet stores and breeders rather than adopting an animal from a shelter, as well as people who callously decide that they no longer want to have a pet. PETA works to reduce the problem by educating the public. It is not reasonable to fault them for not being able to find a loving home for each and every unwanted animal. They have limited funds and do their best to minimize animal suffering which is their only goal.From PETA’s website:

        Animal Rights Uncompromised: Euthanasia

        Euthanasia
        is a sad reality caused by people who abandon animals, refuse to
        sterilize their animals, and patronize pet shops and breeders instead of
        adopting stray animals or animals from animal shelters. Every day in
        the U.S.,
        tens of thousands of puppies and kittens are born, and there will never
        be enough homes for all these animals. Animal shelters and shelter
        workers are stuck with the heart-wrenching job of dealing with unwanted
        animals.
        Some people wonder why “surplus” animals can’t simply live in animal
        shelters instead of being killed. Even if government-sponsored and
        private animal shelters had the resources to house the millions of
        homeless animals born in the U.S. each year (and they don’t), “no-kill” shelters do not provide a solution to the problem of companion animal homelessness.
        Dogs, cats, and other companion animals need much more than food,
        water, and a cage or pen. They also need lots of loving care, regular
        and sustained companionship, respect for their individuality, and the
        opportunity to run and play. As difficult as it may be for us to accept,
        euthanasia (when carried out by veterinarians or trained animal shelter
        professionals with a painless intravenous injection of sodium
        pentobarbital) is often the most compassionate and dignified way for
        unwanted animals to leave a world that has no place for them.
        Read more about PETA’s uncompromising stand on euthanasia.

        • Anonymous

          No, I don’t buy their line.  Yes, it’s unfortunate, but PETA euthanizes 90% of the animals they get.  Other shelters average 30%.  It’s as if they don’t even try.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anthony-Okafor/1759887752 Anthony Okafor

            But then they turn around and bash Mike Vick SMH. Hyprocrisy at it’s finest

  • Carrie

    PETA supporters: Google “PETA misogyny” and hopefully you will reassess your support for an organization that purports to fight exploitation of animals by trading on the exploitation of human women and trans individuals.

    • Brian Macker

      So the nut job female PETA members doing this are misoginists?  I don’t get it.  What they are doing doesn’t seem to be misoginistic to me?    Would you consider a hunger strike by a Jew to protest something to be antisemtic?

  • Anonymous

    PETA is a fanatical organization. Killing animals to eat is murder. While I no longer eat as much meat as I once did, I still eat some. Sometimes more than others. And to op it eat, I hunt and kill most of my own meat. So, if eating meat, raising or other wise killing animals, was illegal, what would the punishment be for this murder?

  • Brian Macker

    So these atheist groups wasted 15 spots that other people who entered the lottery could have used?   I think that is awful.     They should immediately relinquish them.    It’s like getting free goverment cheese and then throwing it on the mulch pile.  What a bunch of grinches.   Way to make yourselves hated, taking from others and then wasting what you got.


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