PETA v. Jonathan Swift: Modest proposals and the closed-minded dimwits who take them seriously.

Posted by jeremyclarke on September 24, 2008 · General
peta logoPeople for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Peta released a new PR campaign yesterday directed at Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream (emphasis mine):

Burlington, Vt. – This morning, PETA dispatched a letter to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, cofounders of ice cream icon Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., urging them to replace the cow’s milk in their products with human breast milk. PETA’s request comes in the wake of news reports that a Swiss restaurant owner will begin purchasing breast milk from nursing mothers and substituting breast milk for 75 percent of the cow’s milk in the food he serves. PETA points out to Cohen and Greenfield that such a move on their part would lessen the suffering of dairy cows and their babies on factory farms and benefit human health at the same time.

The fact that human adults consume huge quantities of dairy products made from milk that was meant for a baby cow just doesn’t make sense,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “Everyone knows that ‘the breast is best,’ so Ben & Jerry’s could do consumers and cows a big favor by making the switch to breast milk.”

As usual PETA is messing with us to get across a rhetorical point, and as usual all the dumbasses in the world think it’s serious (it was apparrently very poorly recieved on Montreal AM talk radio, which doesn’t surprise me too much).

As a start, this is a refreshing change from their more gruesome campaigns that compare horrible human on human violence from the news (serial killers, maniacs who go on killing sprees, the holocaust) to the human on animal violence that goes on every day in the factory farming system. On another level though it does an amazing job of being a real live satire of itself, and in the process clarifying what it is that PETA is aiming for with these press releases: inflammatory demands that are obviously ridiculous but intended to make people reconsider the “normal” things they do that are actually weird and violent towards animals.

By asking people to consider drinking human milk as part of their regular diet PETA forces us to think about the whole idea of drinking milk after infancy, which is undeniably unnatural and strange even if you enjoy and depend on it. Why won’t you drink human milk? It was designed by nature just for you, unlike cows milk. The only reasonable answer is that it would be uncomfortable and disruptive on the lives of the lactating human females, which just points to the ridiculousness of doing it to cows who can’t even protest their treatment.

hillary clinton eating a babyHillary Clinton eating a baby (source)

To add to the lark, both the tone and the content of the press release seem to directly reference Jonathan Swift’s classic work of satire “A Modest Proposal“, in which he encourages the poor of Ireland to sell their excess babies as meat to the rich to solve two problems at once. Both works draw on a similar cannibalism theme and present an outrageous solution designed to make the reader consider the various relationships at play in a new light.

Obviously you’d have to be stupid to think that Swift was being serious when publishing an argument promoting eating babies, but you’re head is pretty far up your ass if you think PETA actually wants human milk to become a normal product for consumption.

(Thanks for the link, Chris)

Posted by jeremyclarke on September 24, 2008 · General

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