20 August 2008

What Were Your Concerns While in Beijing? Human Rights in Tibet? Genocide in Darfur? Massive Environmental Threats in China? ... No. Wearing Fur!

There they go again! I have posted on "animal rights" generally and the antics of PETA several times before [1] [2] [3] [4]. Somehow, until today I'd managed to miss this story on U.S. Olympian Amanda Beard's self-promotion in Beijing. The news release from PETA is here.

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Blogger Dawei_in_Beijing said...

I can't wait for the Olympics hoopla to be over already!

20 August, 2008 16:27  
Blogger nina said...

I feel like I am missing something here. Why are you so outraged about people caring about animals? It is not mutually exclusive to care about human rights and animal rights. Actually I think more supporters of animals rights are also likely to agree with other posts you have made, so I do not understand why you feel the need to alienate them. For many vegetarianism is about peace & non-violence--it certainly was for Ghandi.
Why would you attack people who care. Attack those who don't care about anything before you attack vegetarians and supporters of animal right (a subject I feel you are not that versed in - but perhaps I am wrong).
My comment is not in any sarcastic or mean spirited-- I am simply surprised at these posts from your blog.

25 August, 2008 19:01  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...


Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your objection.

My position is not that people should not care about animals or that we should treat them cruelly.
I am more focused on how our concern for animals is expressed int he world - in terms of what policies, practices & institutions.

My complaint about PETA and its various celeb (mostly) spokeswomen is something I've noted in several earlier posts (to which I linked in this one). First, I think the PETA campaigns are sexist. From the photographic angle, I think the PETA campaigns trade on the least appealing aspects of fashion and advertising photography. Second, I think the celebs are solipsistic and moralistic. They seem to me to be more concerned(i) with displaying their own "refined" sensibilities & (ii) with self-promotion than with anything else. This seems transparent in the case of Amanda Beard, but nearly as clear in some of the earlier examples I've posted on.

Finally, I think "rights" based claims for animals are nearly incoherent. (This is a professional peeve given that I am a political theorist, but it has implications for how we seek to protect animals.) At a minimum, rights presuppose political entities willing to and capable of monitoring and enforcing them. And in many cases such political arrangements simply do not exist.


25 August, 2008 20:19  
Blogger Jonathan Olmsted said...

As a point of information (adding no content to this whatsoever), the flag in the promotion is absolutely incorrectly displayed. Further, being an American Olympian who commented on the "positive" tone of the message to which she was contributing, I suspect it is not a sly instance of civil disobedience, or the like. Flag Code Sec. 157 (i) is the relevant part here.

Although the Flag Code is "violated" with incredible frequency, it just seems that hanging the flag in the manner the PETA ad does (field of stars to the viewer's right--should be to the viewer's left) is tantamount to hanging it upside down.

Wrapping the flag of the United States around a world champion swimmer, probably an infringement, but mostly forgivable. Upside down? That is many shades of black away from gray.


26 August, 2008 08:56  
Blogger Dawei_in_Beijing said...

Do the folks at Peta not see the irony in using the phrase "be comfortable in your own skin" against the image of a world class athlete with a perfect physique? How many regular folks will walk away from this ad feeling "comfortable in their own skin"?

26 August, 2008 15:53  
Blogger nina said...

Hi Jim,
Thank you for clarifying.
I certainly agree that the ads are often sexist, but try to keep in mind that PETA is trying to get attention and reach very mainstream people. I certainly do not think PETA is a perfect organization, but I am glad they exist.I also understand your objection to the use of the term/word "rights" --however considering the wide spread cruelty and inhuman treatment of animals I don't care much about theory.
I just want attitudes to change.
However of course I follow your argument and understand it.
But again thank you for responding and clarifying.

30 August, 2008 13:33  

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