April 7, 2011

PETA Update #3: Close, But No Cigar

It's been a crazy 48 hours. Let's recap:

First I sent PETA my open letter in response to their "Win a Vasectomy" campaign. Then PETA wrote back... and told me to "just adopt." So I wrote them back again (does this officially make us pen pals?) and they wrote me back again with a non-apology apology.

Then PETA issues a broader non-apology apology on their Facebook page that said, in a nutshell: "We're sorry you got so upset."

So then I posted a petition online at Change.org, urging signers to Tell PETA: Infertility Is Not a Joke. And as of 9PM EST today, 1700+ people think that PETA should formally apologize and immediately remove any link between their campaign and National Infertility Awareness Week.

I think this makes me and PETA BFFs now.

Other important things that have happened in the last 48 hours:

If this wasn't already obvious, the momentum on this campaign has picked up like wildfire. So after all this, how does PETA respond?

By changing "in honor of" NIAW to "during" NIAW.

Click to embiggen.

*golf clap*

Don't be fooled, readers. This isn't the victory we've been after just quite.

What would appear to be a real response is actually just a trollish attempt to appease the masses and probably keep their phones from ringing off the hook.

I've got to hand it to PETA: they rank among the likes of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church when it comes to walking the line between literal and libel. In sum, I'm honestly impressed at not only how smug PETA is when it comes to engaging with their opposition, but at just how suave their trolling really is. In the battle of David vs. the Goliath, this little blogger is head to head with the pros.

Here's the thing about trolls. They love the attention and the vitriol spewed in the wake of their trolling. They feed on making you angry. That's why apart from this post, I've engaged in nothing but eloquent, well-researched, well-composed dialogue on my end. PETA, for the most part, has done the same, with the exception of telling me that "infertility is justified because the world is overpopulated" and that "as an infertile woman, I should just adopt." In all of my exchanges, I haven't resorted to profanity or name-calling. Believe me: I've been tempted.

But with this little tweak to PETA's campaign website, I'm calling out PETA for what they are: trolls. 

Trolling: an artist's rendition.
I'm not stupid and I know this one campaign has not happened in a vacuum. "Win a Vasectomy" in honor of/during NIAW is not a new tactic; this is merely standard M.O. for these folks. I'm well aware of some of their other controversial campaigns, such as comparing the consumption of meat to the Holocaust. And there's other less overt ways PETA exploits people at the expense of animals: PETA has no problem objectifying women in their ad campaigns.

What's the first rule of the internet? Don't feed the trolls. Here's the thing - I'm confident that PETA went after the infertility community because we're largely silenced; I honestly don't think PETA was expecting a response this vocal. Sometimes you have to feed the trolls - but give them food they don't like, such as solid research and stats, a commitment to no longer contribute to them financially, and mature, well-spoken arguments. If you resort to swearing and name-calling, they've won. You basically have to treat PETA like a small child: speak slowly, clearly, and repeat yourself ad nauseum until they understand. 

By changing "in honor of" to "during" and by issuing apologies that apologize for our reactions and not their actions, PETA is essentially patting us on our heads and hoping we'll go on our merry ways. We can't give in; we have to be relentless. Keep calling and leaving messages. Keep emailing them. Keep sharing the petition with others. Keep tweeting and posting on Facebook. Keep contacting the media (so far only Canada, Ireland and New Zealand have picked up PETA's stunt, but not our response).

If you chip away at a tree long enough, it will eventually fall over. The ball is still in PETA's court to do the right thing, and until then, we need to remind them of that... every day, every hour, every minute.

EDIT: On the flipside, I'd like to recommend Mel's very thoughtful post about this whole fiasco over at Stirrup Queens. It's easy to get caught up in the anger and emotion, but she makes some fantastic points about why this whole thing still matters. It's a nice counterpoint that promotes and encourages thoughtful dialogue about all of this. Check out Why I'm Not Talking about PETA.


Ashlee G. said...

can i just tell you that you are a wonderful writer. i got chills for your beautifully posted words.

you inspire me keiko. you really do.

Anonymous said...

Why all the anger? You want awareness and understanding about infertility, stop being so darn sensitive while being insensitive to others. TRUST ME, infertility is being taken as seriously as peta right now because of the attitudes and actions of the people behind the cause. Think about it! I'm not a troll, I've dealt with IF, I'm choosing to stay anonymous because it seems the truth often causes a lot of backlash.

Lara said...

As of 9:42 pm MST time, there is still copy on their website that says "In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week." It is under their "features" tab listed among all their promotions - FYI. I will be blogging my letter to PETA soon.

Keiko said...

Anonymous, I'll say this as I've said to other anon posters: I think it's pretty cowardly not to stand up with who you are behind your own words. I've got my name, face, and strong opinions of my own and I've pitted them up against PETA. I didn't hide behind "Anonymous" because I realized my message carries more weight when I stand up AS I am for my beliefs. I'm sorry if you think that my responding with well-reasoned rebuttals to those who disagree with me is "backlash." It's not backlash - it's intelligent, engaged discourse.

That said, how exactly is my response (and that shared by at least 1800 other ppl who've signed the petition to PETA) insensitive? I can either be sensitive or insensitive... I can't be both.

Has PETA's campaign favored the infertility community? In some ways, absolutely. But the fact that PETA's campaign remains linked to NIAW still flies in the face of everything that NIAW represents. At the very least, it's one non-profit exploiting and bastardizing the work of another non-profit for their own organizational gain: it's just bad business, and hardly "ethical."

I can agree to disagree with people. But I can't agree with people who support the spreading of misinformation (infertility is justified b/c of overpopulation, telling infertile ppl to "just adopt"). It is detrimental to our community at large and if you've been reading my blog for anything more than a few days now, you'd know that's kind of the whole point of my advocacy work.

Jana said...

You are so eloquent. You are a great advocate for infertility awareness. Way to go. Thanks for always helping me advocate more and making me aware of different things going on.

E. Lane said...

Keiko's first paragraph of response to "anonymous" took the worlds right out of my mouth. If you have something to say and believe in it stand up for it yourself don't hide.

I'm so sick of PETA.
I think that I will have DH go hunting this season "in honor" of animal rights...makes sense right?

Kristin said...

Brava Keiko, Brava! You are truly an amazing woman and you are an equally incredible writer.

AnotherDreamer said...

Very well said, love it. Thank you.

*Jelena* said...

I just wrote this really long comment, and then blogger ate it. Grrr.

In any case, this is sorta what I had written:

That I will not stop campaigning until peta disassociates themselves from the infertility community. However, all their responses are actually starting to make me laugh hysterically - that's how stupid they are. They start off by apologizing, and then they insult us again, like in this emailed response that they sent to me. I'd already posted the quote on your FB page, but I'll do so here as well, if you don't mind. It really bothered me that they've called me immoral. Infertility is really hard enough without someone judging you for actually getting treatment.

Thanks Keiko, btw, for all your work.

"Many who choose to have a vasectomy consider it a moral conundrum for some of us to be spending thousands of dollars trying to reproduce ourselves when there are homeless children, including some with disabilities, who want for homes, and when the environment is being ravaged as human population increases."

P.S. I detest anonymous comments too.

Whitney Anderson said...

Clap!! Nice job, Keiko! Love the troll picture and seriously, like Mel's post yesterday and what you're saying here, this is just par for the course for them. But, that doesn't mean we'll take it!

Denver Laura said...

"infertility is justified b/c of overpopulation..." hummm... Too bad we can't eat humans.

And the whole "plenty of homeless children who need homes..." argument is getting really old. I'm a foster parent with an empty house for going on a month and a half now. We are certified for sibling groups ages 0-18, any ethnicity. If there is such a need, why hasn't my phone been ringing off the hook?

Sarah, thank you for bringing this to our attention. I've enjoyed reading the back and forth you're had with PETA this week.

Keiko said...

PS Anonymous: I know you're Kristen from That's What She Said. When you copy and paste your same comment in another article on this, but include your name and website- it's pretty easy to figure out who you are.

Why would you leave your name there, but not here? How does that strengthen your position?

Coco said...

Thanks for doing this keiko! You are an amazing woman and while I am sorry that you have to deal with infertility I am so glad that this community has your strong voice!

foxy said...

Hey Keiko - I just wanted to share the reply that PETA sent me... I don't understand why they would tell me that they have removed the offending language when in fact they have done nothing of the sort...?

Dear Foxy,

Thank you for contacting PETA about your objections to our contest offering a free vasectomy. We are sorry to have offended you, and we have removed the phrase in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week from our website. We understand that this was not a wise choice of words.

Our goal was to focus attention on the tragic suffering and death of homeless dogs and cats. Since the best way to prevent animal companions from having unwanted litters is to spay and neuter them, a kind PETA member offered to cover the cost of a vasectomy for one compassionate man who wants to get himself snipped just like his furry friend. Having ones own child may be a compelling urge for some, but nobody should condemn those who choose to avoid causing pregnancy or any organization that provides them with a means to do so. Many who choose to have a vasectomy consider it a moral conundrum for some of us to be spending thousands of dollars trying to reproduce ourselves when there are homeless children, including some with disabilities, who want for homes, and when the environment is being ravaged as human population increases.

PETA works very hard to prevent the births of puppies and kittens who will end up abandoned in animal shelters or struggling to survive on the streets. Breeding, both purposeful and accidental, is responsible for the euthanasia of millions of these loving companions each year. Sterilization is both the easiest and the most effective means available of ensuring animals happiness and safety. Male animals who have been neutered are far less likely to roam far from home or fight. Neutering greatly diminishes and possibly eliminates reproductive urges (which are not the same in dogs as they are in humans). In addition, these animals will never get testicular cancer and run less risk of contracting prostate disease. Female animals who have been spayed avoid the trauma of giving birth and will no longer go into heat.

Consider the fate of the millions of unwanted animals whose parents were never spayed and neutered. Born into a hostile world, they are caged among strangers at animal shelters or, worse, abandoned on the sides of roads. They are run over by cars and attacked by other animals. They are infected with painful, contagious, and deadly diseases. Those unlucky enough to run into cruel humans are often drowned, beaten with baseball bats, suffocated in plastic bags, stabbed, shot, starved, set on fire, used as bait, and tortured in countless other ways. And the saddest tragedy of all is that before they meet some gruesome death, they reproduce, and the cycle of animal suffering continues.

A national organization, SPAY/USA, helps guardians of animal companions who need assistance with the cost of spaying and neutering. You can contact SPAY/USA at the following website and toll-free number:

1-800-248-SPAY (7729)

To learn more about issues that affect animal companions, please visit http://www.PETA.org/issues/companion-animals/default.aspx. To make a donation in support of PETAs campaigns to stop the animal overpopulation crisis, please go to http://www.PETA.org/donate.

Thank you again for contacting us and for the opportunity to share our thoughts.


The PETA Staff

Sprinklez said...

Have you heard the pre-recorded message that they have when you call them? It is SO OFFENSIVE..757-622-7382, press zero. Ask the operator about NIAW.. she'll transfer you to the BS line and tell you to leave a message.

Dawn said...

You go girl!! We're on a roll now. I'll post the link to this blog for another round. By the way, thank you for all you've done on this campaign.

Celia said...

As much as this whole PETA thing has sickened and enraged me( and my husband with MF) I am really enjoying your blog and writing.

Betsy said...

I'm glad I found your blog to keep myself updated on this issue without having to visit PETA's website! This entire thing has really opened my eyes to them in general - turrible!

And I'm glad to know that just because they took off "in honor of" from their website, it doesn't really mean jack b/c they still have it DURING NIAW - b/c that's exactly the response I got in my reply email!

"Thank you for contacting PETA about your objections to our contest offering a free vasectomy; please allow me to respond for Ingrid. We are sorry to have offended you, and we have removed the phrase “in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week” from our website. We understand that this was not a wise choice of words."

sounding like an apology without actually apologizing! SO Keiko you dont have to feel left out! I also think their response sounds very formatted now, as I suspect with so many emails.

Thank you for your continued advocacy...

Anonymous said...

PETA is right, overpopulation is a problem. How many within the PETA organization are willing to forego having children to resolve the problem? Until they make that sacrifice they shouldn't expect others to.

Hugs to everyone suffering from infertility.

Rebecca said...

I'm guessing they think we are of no consequence to them if they think that by changing "honor" to "during" will pacify us.

I feel very used. As I posted on one person's blog, "I feel like I need to take a shower to get the dirty paw prints off my back.".