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Alumbaugh: Oh the Irony!
By JoAnn Alumbaugh, Farms.com

Last week, Gilbert Arenas, the pro Washington Wizards basketball player, was suspended indefinitely for bringing guns into the Wizards’ locker room and for inappropriate behavior preceding a game, when he mockingly “shot” at teammates. It happened last Wednesday, January 6, which coincidentally, was the player’s 28th birthday.

But, now here’s one for the record books: The very next day after his suspension, Arenas was featured shirtless in ads sponsored by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The ads show Arenas’ tattooed torso, accompanied by the caption, “Ink, NOT MINK. Be comfortable in your own skin, and let animals keep theirs.”

According to an article in USA Today, the NBA had asked that the photo used in the ads be pulled per its contract with Getty Images, which transmitted the photo. Evidently it was, for a day. But PETA decided to go ahead with the ads, including this description of his photo, “Arenas shows that you can have a killer look without killing animals.”

A “killer” look? Does PETA not see the irony? Arenas is unfit to take the court, is a potential threat to other human beings and clearly has little respect for authority but, hey, let’s make sure no animals are harmed! Here’s a young man who knew he was doing something illegal but like too many other sports figures these days, felt he was above the law. Evidently his six-year, $111 million contract wasn’t enough of an incentive to recognize the opportunity he’d been afforded.

I would think everyday citizens would be disgusted and appalled by PETA’s apparent insensitivity if they knew the facts, but sadly, most of them either don’t know or don’t care. Of the over $34 million that PETA had in annual revenues for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2008, the group built 300 free doghouses and bagged 1,200 bales of straw, “providing warm, dry shelter to animals forced to live outdoors.” You could make some pretty nice doghouses for $34 million.

The money was also spent on more than 419,000 vegetarian starter kits, 1,200 demonstrations, 600 letters-to-the-editor, 1,000 opinion pieces, and 1.8 million letters urging individuals and companies to make changes that would benefit animals. PETA sent out an e-newsletter on vegetarian cooking to 54,000 people and its youth division reached out to more than 1.8 million young people at music festivals and other events.

The group says 12.16 percent of the $34 million was used on fundraising efforts – that’s over $4 million; and another $1.4 million was allocated to management and general operations. And don’t forget those doghouses.

Unless organizations and businesses in animal agriculture can start producing equally compelling messages and begin employing some of the same mass media methods for reaching the public, we will lose the war without even engaging in a battle.

If members really knew the organization was less worried about abuse than it is putting an end to animal production and meat consumption, and that it regularly puts animal protection over and above the safety and welfare of human beings, would they still contribute $20, $40 or more a month? I’d like to think not, but that may be the greatest irony of all.

This commentary is for informational purposes only. The opinions and comments expressed herein represent the opinions of the author--they do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Farms.com. This commentary is not intended to provide individual advice to anyone. Farms.com will not be liable for any errors or omissions in the information, or for any damages or losses in any way related to this commentary.

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