Has PETA reached a new low in its intimidation campaigns? For months, the animal-rights organization has harassed Yale researcher Christine Lattin, whose work includes studying stress in birds, which has implications for human health. The animals are given regular check-ups by veterinarians, and the research meets the standards of Yale’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
PETA is against research that uses animals “even if [it] resulted in a cure for AIDS,” in the words of PETA president Ingrid Newkirk. PETA’s campaign against Lattin has included protesting her speeches and publishing her home address. PETA has produced a video accusing Lattin of “torturing songbirds” that has garnered 2 million views. PETA has also filed a complaint with a local D.A.
Predictably, Lattin has received loads of harassing messages such as suggestions that she “should be put out of her misery,” and Lattin now keeps evidence to give to the FBI. Yet PETA claims, “Clearly, our intention is never to have people be harassed. It is never our intention to stir up the masses.”
“I don’t even think of home demonstrations as being harassing,” said the PETA rep.
Right. When you paint your opponent as someone “torturing” animals, what kind of response do you think you’ll get? PETA knows exactly what it is doing and the reaction its inflammatory rhetoric will spur.
Can PETA be held legally liable for the harm its words are causing? We hope authorities (and Lattin) are looking into it. Perhaps some Yale legal alumni would be willing to do some pro bono work. Certainly, those who are making threats deserve to be held accountable.
PETA complains that Lattin has put down 250 birds since 2008 in the course of her work. But over the same period, PETA has killed about 20,000 animals. The difference is that Lattin’s work supports science, while PETA’s killing is either due to laziness or an ideological opposition to animal ownership.
It’s one thing to go after a large corporation. It’s another to pick on a researcher individually. That’s not fair game. And an organization supposedly for the “ethical treatment of animals”—including humans—ought to know that.
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