(Originally Published April 4, 2014)
On April 2nd, 2014 Ingrid Newkirk paid Penn State a visit. Who is Ingrid Newkirk? The co-founder and president of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. When you hear that, what do think it means? People who are advocating for the humane treatment of animals is what comes to my mind. Which is a rule and concept that ANY man or woman who is a true agriculturist knows and abides by. However, that’s not what PETA is promoting.
Anyone who follows PETA knows that their claims are absurd and outrageous. What they lack in their marketing schemes and accusations is reality, reason and practicality. And you can be sure that Ingrid was not lacking in any of those three qualities. But what she lacked in common sense and reality, she made up for with a charming stage presence, pleasant sense of humor and a British accent that was impossible to hate.
Throughout her presentation, she used examples of cruelty towards animals that we ALL could agree with. Videos showed hair being ripped off of screaming rabbits, workers violently throwing new born calves into a truck and sheep being kicked in the head during shearing, among others. Even I felt a pang of hurt for the animals she was projecting. However, I was more bothered by her following approach tactics:
The Holocaust, Slavery and Women’s Rights. When you compare the way humans treat animals as “slaves” to Hitler sending Jews to concentration camps, slave in the fields picking cotton and women fighting for voting rights, that’s taking it to far. Or how Ingrid compared farmers taking calves away from mothers to times of slavery when white men and women accused black women of not being capable of feeling maternal love and taking away their newborns. Ingrid Newkirk stooped down to the level of torture, inequality and racism. How on God’s great earth is that even a fair or valid argument? Are we sick, racist people as agriculturists and farmers? I think not.
Calling out The College of Ag. There were a solid 4 or 5 times during Ingrid’s presentation that she would begin with phrases such as, “This is for the College of Ag” and “Ag students should listen to this” or the “Pay attention to this ag students.” For one, that’s rude, ignorant and unprofessional to do in a presentation. Two, the Penn State College of Ag was the majority of your crowd. I don’t believe it’s fair to call out and point fingers and young men and women who spent their evening RESPECTFULLY listening to your outrageous view points and over done presentation. I also think it’s total crap that when their was an individual who laughed in the crowd, Ingrid automatically made a hinting dig at the “ag kids.” How do you know what college or area of study they were associated with?
One sided story. You may be thinking, “Did you really expect anything different?” Yes and no. I expected the co-founder and PRESIDENT of a world renowned organization to have the respect for herself and the poise in her presentation to at least ACKNOWLEDGE another side of a story. For example, a student made a comment at the end of her slide show, saying a statement to the effect of “I agree that animals should be treated humanely, as do all students in the College of Agriculture. However, I don’t agree with the way you go about promoting your cause. It’s not practical and just wrong.” She retaliated by stating, “You ag students and ag organizations love to only show one side and pull out the negative stats about the deaths and put downs in our animal shelters,” and then proceeded to show us a video on the positives of PETA animal shelters. Just real quick Ingrid…. that didn’t even remotely address his comment and isn’t that EXACTLY what PETA is doing? Only showing one side? Sounds a little hypocritical to me.
Only answering 3 questions. I just spent an hour and a half listening to your presentation. Every time a hand was raised in our area (which judging by the sea of camo, was clearly the “ag kid” side), we were ignored. You, a HUGE public figure with a HUGE opinion, have a personal responsibility and OBLIGATION to answer every one’s questions… or at least more than 3. Maybe it was the number of questions she didn’t answer, or the way she would look our way and blatantly ignore our raised hand. Either way, it fueled my spirit and fired to lock her down for a one-on-one conversation.
Maybe I have too much faith in humanity, or maybe I was hoping for a more professional and rational experience with someone as powerful as Ingrid Newkirk. However, I was highly disappointed. But now I know how PETA accomplishes their goals first hand. Emotion, wit, charm, celebrity support and pictures of sick, sad puppies. Keep on keepin’ on PETA, because the Penn State College of Ag is ready to call out your bluff again and again… and again.