When it comes to animals, there's loving and respecting them, and then there's what PETA does. They react to the mistreatment of animals the way Islamic fundamentalists react to cartoon depictions of Muhammad. That might be a bit extreme, but it's not far off from the descriptors people generally attach to PETA. Do a quick search for reasons why people hate the animal-obsessed organization and words like "terrorists" and "fascists" turn up regularly.
It's a label that, unfortunately, ends up being applied to pretty much every animal rights activist on the planet, kind of like how every tissue is basically a Kleenex as far as any of us are concerned. The problem is, a lot of the more outrageous acts of animal rights activism/terrorism we hear about aren't usually the work of PETA.
You're welcome to hate them for this, though.
When it comes to throwing red paint on people wearing fur and all that fun stuff, your culprit is way more likely to come from a group like the Animal Liberation Front (ALF!) or Earth Liberation Front (ELF!) than from PETA itself. Sure, there are often rumors of links between PETA and the more radical side of the animal rights movement, but automatically attributing every insane act of animal activism you hear about to PETA is a bit unfair. In fact, animal rights activists are among some of the more vocal critics of PETA.
At the heart of the issue is the "no-kill movement." As you probably figured out already, the movement is exactly what it sounds like: a group of animal activists who oppose the killing of animals under any circumstances. It might surprise you to learn that PETA is not a supporter of this movement. In fact, one filing with the state in which they were headquartered at the time revealed that 95 percent of the animals that found their way to a PETA shelter were eventually put down.
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I know, kid, I know.
You'll probably be not at all surprised to know that most animal rights groups aren't in line with this way of thinking. Am I saying that PETA euthanizing animals is a good thing? Not at all. I'm just saying that equating PETA with that sometimes overzealous faction of animal rights activists who seem to value the life of animals above anything else isn't quite accurate.
No matter what side we're talking about, there really is some awful shit happening to animals in this world, and both sides have had a hand in bringing those abuses to light by sneaking into animal processing facilities to shoot undercover video. Their right to do so is currently being challenged in several states, including Idaho, who launched their offensive after a group called Mercy for Animals released horrific video of a cow being sexually assaulted at a plant in that state.
No, in fact, I don't. Thanks for asking first.
That video rightfully led to a drastic drop in business for that plant. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of other ways to make money in Idaho that don't involve raping animals, so state officials quickly drafted up a bill that would effectively outlaw videotaping undercover footage of that sort.
In other words, Idaho legislators are fighting for the corporate farmer's right to abuse animals without fear of oversight or, at the very least, with the assurance that if they're caught they'll at least be able to send the person who exposed them to jail. No matter where you stand on animal rights, unless you literally own a corporation of your own, chances are you probably aren't on board with the government sanctioning such a lack of transparency on the part of the people preparing the food we eat.
Hate animal rights activists and/or PETA all you want, but they're the only ones trying to put a stop to that nonsense right now.
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Walmart is both the most successful and the most hated retailer of all time. Their abuses and crimes against the rights of employees are too numerous to list here. They routinely drive smaller businesses right into bankruptcy almost as soon as they bring their falling-price warnings to town, and they do it by flooding the market with cheaply made products from China. This money-saving tactic came at the cost of countless American jobs. Hell, even though I'm here to defend them (sort of), I've also gone on record as being very much against their fuckery.
Here's the thing, though: No one is in favor of Walmart's forced overtime practices and other assorted evils. No one hears about Walmart managers literally locking employees inside the building overnight and thinks, "Yeah, that seems alright to me." I mean, obviously, there are a few people who do, but they're called "the one percent" for a reason. No matter how powerful they may be, their way of thinking, at least in that respect, puts them squarely in the minority.
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Rich. Powerful. Shops at Target.
Nevertheless, despite an abundance of evidence that Walmart is one of the shadiest corporations ever, enough people shop there every year to put Big Blue squarely atop lists of the most profitable retailers, year after year. Do these people shopping at Walmart not care at all about the plight of the American worker? Sure they do. The thing is, very few people shop at Walmart because they want to. People shop at Walmart because they have to. It's easy to forget if you live in a fairly large city with lots of buying options, but in some areas, when Walmart comes to town, they take out all of the competition. Once that comes to pass, your choices are shop online, drive a lot of miles to shop in another town, or just swallow your beliefs and shop at Walmart. Choosing the latter of those three options doesn't automatically mean you also support crushing labor unions.
It's an issue that's been around for a long time now. Way back when Nirvana released their final studio album, the goddamn perfect In Utero, Walmart initially refused to stock it if the words "Rape Me" (it's the name of a song) weren't removed from the back cover. Kurt Cobain eventually relented, changing the song title to "Waif Me" on the back cover, thus clearing the way for it to be stocked at Walmart. When asked why he backed down, he explained that he didn't think standing his ground was worth punishing kids who might want to buy his music but can't do it literally anywhere else except Walmart.
Also, those low prices Walmart is always preaching to us about must be taken into consideration. Even if you do live somewhere with lots of options, you're probably going to shop where your financial situation allows.
Not that any of it matters in the long run. Walmart is one of those evil entities that some people will never be able to forgive or make peace with. That was on full display when Mike Rowe, host of the Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs, had the gall to narrate a commercial about a new campaign Walmart is launching that allegedly will result in the company spending $250 billion on goods made in the United States, including a stipulation that this can't just mean "assembling parts made in other countries."
Almost as soon as the commercial hit the airwaves, Rowe was inundated with messages from outraged fans who couldn't stomach the fact that he'd support a company that floods the market with cheap junk from China, all while completely ignoring the fact that the commercial in question was for a campaign that promised to start doing exactly what this particular faction of Walmart critics want the retailer to do.
Rowe, quite rightfully, stood up for himself and Walmart, explaining that while he didn't support a lot of the company's past practices, he totally supported this initiative. Who wouldn't? Again, by all indications, this is Walmart doing exactly what people want Walmart to do.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still keeping my apartment in the "fuck Walmart" area of town, but getting mad at them for attempting to address one of the issues that have made people hate them up to this point seems silly to me.