I was a little slow in a couple of ways regarding the discussion about propaganda which centered on the animal rights movement. I titled the discussion thread “animal rights/hunting propaganda” and Kirk changed it to “animal rights mumbojumbo.”
I asked a handful of questions, including whether there was any evidence of bias in Glen’s presentation itself: was there more information on the ‘support’ side (of animal rights) than on the ‘against’ side (or vice versa)?
Who are the publics that animal rights advocates target? Who are the publics that hunting advocates target?
Is this a false dichotomy? (Can one support hunting and animal rights?)
A great discussion ensued in which I realized I had missed a crucial point. (Imagine!)
One of the students who didn’t give consent to be named here (in the blog) wrote:
“There was definitely more bias supporting than against. Although it was not in your face, it was there. The animal rights activists target the people who are on the fence, and those that already believe as they do, to confirm and reestablish that. Hunting advocates also target their own. I believe much of this is to turn someone that is unsure what they believe and reiterate old beliefs. You can be a supporter of both, if you are not an extremist. There are two sides to every story. There are two views on every belief, or more. You can believe that if you are hunting for food it is ok, but once it is for skins and the meat goes to waste, that is wrong. It is interesting only one side was presented, but maybe that’s the side he didn’t have as much information on, and he wanted to have that to make his own argument stronger. Also if you are showing propaganda, it’s usually not a good thing, so you would want to show it about the other side.”
Kirk: “The first thing that tipped me off to the bias was the fact that PETA is given the infamous domestic terrorist label. Though the name more properly fits ALF, it should not be given to PETA. The only connections that can be made are indirect between the two groups, seeing as ALF is a decentralized and leaderless organization. Ingrid Newkirk, the president of PETA, can be connected to ALF though various raid and release efforts, but that was all before the establishment of PETA as a global-capitalist animal rights group. ALF has no hierarchy, where any action taken by a person to prevent or end the abuse of animals can be claimed to be in solidarity or for it– anyone can claim something was done in its name. A lot of claiming that PETA members are a bunch of terrorists is a direct result from the government’s Green Scare to stifle environmental and animal rights activists.
Being a former PETA field organizer and promoter, I know that the youth market they aim for focuses on subcultures of young people, mainly pop-punk. I was sent out on Warped Tour in 2004 for 9 dates to try and get kids to stop eating meat, it was a waste of time and I was basically told to talk to kids that “looked like they would support the cause.”
I think hunters can support animals rights in some factors, such as I mentioned with testing. But anyone that takes the life of another animal does not place upon it the full value to life that animal rights philosophies advocate– this is not to say that hunters don’t care about our furry friends, they place the value in different ways than animal rights activists do.”
Glen, responding directly to Kirk: “I appreciate your comments both during my presentation and now. I agree with you on many of your arguements. Had I known your prior involvement with PETA I would have asked your thoughts about the organization and included them in my paper. You are correct that myself as a hunter place a different value on an animal’s life. In that same statement, I have to fully realize the consequences of taking an animal’s life. It is not a decision any hunter should take lightly. There is no rewind button after you pull the trigger. There are people I know who do not hunt because they did not like making that decision. I am in no way a bloodthirsty killer that PETA would like to label me as. Again I appreciate your insight and comments, I also commend you on being involved in what you believe in.”
Steph: “Hey Glen, nice exchange with Kirk but I think you missed one of his points (so did I, when he said it in class, but I got it when I read his comment). He explained that PETA has a bad reputation NOT because of what it does but because others have talked in certain ways to give PETA a bad rap as if they are in the same league with ALF.
You still put PETA in that same stereotyped category, without recognizing (?) that Kirk was trying to explain that they don’t belong there. At least, that’s how I just read the exchange between the two of you. Please correct me, either one of you, if I’ve got any part of this wrong!”
Kirk: “You’ve got my point exactly Steph. PETA engages in mundane activism (leafletting, posturing, tabling, running ads in major magazines, making movies on slaughterhouses and such) in order to try to get people to stop eating meat, wearing fur, and generally supporting the cruelty industry. When the FBI convicted six activist involved with the Earth Liberation and Animal Liberation Fronts, through Operation Backfire, the media traced connections back to PETA, legal defense funds and memberships and such. PETA in no way publicly advocates direct action like property destruction or raid and releases, which are the actions that members of ALF engage in.”
Glen: “That is definitely something I misrepresented in my paper. I had seen the connections that you, ( Kirk ) mentioned between the two groups and thought they were on the same page. I guess that shows how sometimes you cannot take what you read on the internet as fact.”
Steph: “It also shows how difficult it is to get “outside” of our own thinking processes. Once we have decided something, we “believe” it in a way that is not easy to dislodge, even in the face of evidence to the contrary! Glen, I think you’ve done a terrific job in this respect. Other students have as well, but I sense that for most students in the class the new things they’ve come to realize and think are more a continuation of certain attitudes or beliefs that they already held. You’ve had a more challenging task (in my opinion) of opening yourself up to some views that run counter to your established attitudes and beliefs. It has been a real pleasure to engage with you. :-)”
Additional note: as I was just adding links I came across the wikipedia entry for Operation Backfire. It is well-worth reading, especially if one is interested in propaganda. It reminds me of the discussion we had about Nike’s Air Force Ones: which came first, the music video by TI or the idea to create a video that would appear to spontaneously spawn a new sneaker?