The Center for Consumer Fraud

The www.ParentalFreedom.com web site is from www.vegsource.com, so take it with a grain of salt, as I do, if you want. But even if you take it with a whole shaker of salt (not recommended), I think you'll agree it exposes some of the corruption and underhanded tactics of the pro-meat and dairy, anti-animal rights lobby. In particular, the site is a parody of the frighteningly immoral (and grossly misnamed) Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). Browse through the various articles, especially Response of VegSource to [CCF President] Rick Berman's letter, Are Today's Teens More Toxic?, and Junk Pushers Use Junk Science.

CCF represents the interests of companies like Tyson and Pilgrim's Pride, which make a living from killing animals and denying them comforts. Lately, the group has been spending a disproportionate amount of resources attacking People for the ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Why? They are afraid of PETA, because PETA can show, through videos, first-hand encounters, expert testimony, and even industry publications, that the animals forced to exist in CCF's clients' operations suffer horribly their whole lives. When consumers learn about the living conditions, genetically-altered bodies, lack of care, and deliberately tortuous slaughter of animals at these places, they tend to react with pity and disgust, and often change their behavior as a result. Which cuts into the profits of CCF's major clients. If PETA's depictions of factory farms were inaccurate or deceptive, CCF (and Tyson and Pilgrim's Pride) would have sued and won years ago. But they can't do that. They know that every scene in every video, every account of violent abuse and utter meanness that goes on in their clients' businesses and that is exposed by PETA and a hundred other animal rights groups, is true. So they're reduced to making ad hominum attacks on PETA's credibility, and distorting their record.

(It's the same technique CCF uses against any group perceived to be a threat. Currently CCF director Rick Berman is about the only person in America claiming that obesity is not a major health problem. Good God, just look around you. Then look at the ads on TV. His clients don't want us to think too much about our weight when buying their products. The bigger our bottoms, the bigger their bottom lines. Just this week a study came out showing that spending on obesity-related illness shot up a thousand percent from 1987, and that's after adjusting for inflation. In 1987, 2 percent of health care costs were for obesity; in 2002, the latest year for which data are available, the figure is 11 percent. How can anyone willingly push poor health, which can lead to financial ruin, on their fellow citizens? One possible answer appears at the end of this post.)

Although it's made me sick to my stomach, I've managed to read just about every CCF article on their website. Here's my critique: they're clever, and without an ounce of integrity. They'll use every nasty trick in the book. Two of their favorites which are really quite telling when you think about it: attribute the sins of their clients to their enemies, and pretend to have the virtues of the whistleblowers. So, for example, PETA invests hundreds of thousands of dollars and 25 years helping companion animals by distributing doghouses, subsidizing shelter construction and veterinary training, promoting adoption, educating the public about puppy mill and pet store horrors, applying pressure to replace ghastly incinerators with humane injection, and personally rescuing every species imaginable from the most horrid and deadly environments. But CCF, with a one-time contribution to a shelter that PETA exposed for its extreme cruelty, touts itself as the real animal lover. Conversely and ironically the harshest criticism CCF can level at PETA is that they kill animals. Never mind that, like animal shelters across the country, under duress, PETA puts some of the several million companion animals that have no homes to sleep, using humane euthanasia. Never mind that PETA has spared untold numbers of animals from suffering and early death through their sterilization clinics. Never mind that CCF's clients kill thousands of animals every hour, after giving them a lifetime of misery and confinement. Never mind that unlike PETA staffers, who weep openly and hug the animals as they give them a painless death, CCF's clients kill animals with an efficient ruthlessness, and often with over-the-top brutality, and for profit.

My goal is not to uphold PETA as a perfect organization or the paragon of righteousness. They've made their share of mistakes and errors in judgment. In a room of several hundred people, I've criticized some of PETA's tactics and my remarks were made directly to PETA's president, who was also in the room. But you better believe I will defend them from blatantly unfair charges, or ones that make them out to be something they're not, or that mischaracterize the motives of the group. These folks dedicate their lives to making a better world for animals. I don't have to love PETA to hate slander and duplicitousness directed at them, especially when done with the intent of perpetuating cruelty to animals.