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Top 10 Times PETA Went Too Far

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
Even animal lovers can agree that these stunts were over the top. For this list, we’re looking at the most questionable things that this animal rights organization has done. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Times PETA Went TOO FAR.
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Script written by Savannah Sher

Top 10 Times PETA Went TOO FAR


Even animal lovers can agree that these stunts were over the top. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Times PETA Went TOO FAR.

For this list, we’re looking at the most questionable things that this animal rights organization has done.

#10: RIP Colonel Sanders

As you can imagine, PETA is NOT a fan of KFC, whose suppliers have been accused of animal cruelty. While we’re not surprised that PETA opposes the company, their decision to protest by erecting a new headstone in the cemetery where founder Colonel Sanders is buried . . . was something else. PETA’s addition to the Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery had a seemingly innocuous inscription, an ode in fact to KFC . . . but it was actually an acrostic poem that spelt out “KFC Tortures Birds” in big red letters. It was later removed by the cemetery.

#9: Mother’s Day Madness

Mother’s Day is usually a time for celebrating the woman who gave you birth. But in 2008, PETA decided to turn this typically happy occasion on its head by staging a demonstration in London to make people rethink the holiday. They put a nearly naked pregnant woman in a cage, with a banner above it reading “Unhappy Mother’s Day for Pigs”, and one below that encouraged passersby to “Go Vegetarian”. It was reportedly a very chilly day in London that spring, so if nothing else the protest certainly showed conviction . . . But . . . really?

#8: Fighting Anti-Animal Language

We’ve gotta admit, when we first heard about this one, we thought it was actually a joke. In 2018, PETA published a tweet trying to get people to switch up some commonly used expressions for ones which were more animal friendly. In a statement, they said, "Just as it became unacceptable to use racist, homophobic, or ableist language, phrases that trivialize cruelty to animals will vanish as more people begin to appreciate animals for who they are”. And hey, maybe PETA had the last laugh, because for a couple of days pretty much everyone was talking about them!

#7: Evoking the KKK

We don’t necessarily disagree with PETA’s point that there are a lot of issues in the realm of dog breeding, but comparing breeders to the Klu Klux Klan was far from the best way to make their point. In evoking the image of the KKK, PETA was trying to draw a parallel to the American Kennel Club, saying that both supported “racial cleansing” in an effort to achieve "pure bloodlines". We can’t imagine that anyone who has experienced racism in their lives or in their family history would appreciate being compared to a purebred puppy.

#6: Your Mommy Kills Animals

For a child, going to see The Nutcracker at Christmas with your family should be a magical holiday experience, but for many kids that experience was ruined when they were handed a comic book by a stranger outside of the theatre. PETA was giving copies of “Your Mommy Kills Animals” to the children of women wearing fur coats, which featured bloody and graphic content. It also held sentences like, “How would you feel if someone took away your kitty or puppy, stomped on their head and ripped the skin off their bodies?” We understand wanting to protest the wearing of fur, but why target the children rather than the women themselves?

#5: Mario Kills Tanooki

Anyone who’s played a Super Mario game is undoubtedly familiar with the famous plumber’s Tanooki suit, an ability he picks up that makes him look kind of like a raccoon. PETA decided to latch on to this to use it as an example of someone wearing fur. Considering he is a cartoon and a fictional character, this seems like a bit much. They since came back with a statement saying it was just a joke, stating, "Mario fans: Relax! PETA's game was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, a fun way to call attention to a serious issue”. Yeah. Sooo much fun . . .

#4: Human Barbecue

For many, BBQs are synonymous with eating meat. But PETA tried to change that by holding a demonstration where they put a human on an oversized grill along with a banner reading “meat is murder”. The organization said, “Flesh is flesh, and every animal killed by the industrialized meat industry had feelings, the capacity to develop friendships, and the same desire to live that we do.” This has become a regular stunt for PETA, one that they’ve repeated at various locations around the world.

#3: Got Autism?

PETA is right about a lot of things: the factory farming industry is problematic, animal cruelty is rampant around the world, and the fur industry is one of the main culprits. But sometimes, PETA’s campaigns aren’t based on facts at all. Case in point: their “Got Autism?” scare campaign, a play on the famous “Got Milk?” commercials. The campaign promoted the idea that drinking milk worsens, or even causes autism. In actual fact, the evidence for a link between dairy and autism remains weak, and the idea that milk CAUSES the disorder is essentially pseudoscience.

#2: Jeffrey Dahmer Campaign

If you were around in the early 90s, you may remember the story of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Shortly after he was arrested in 1991, PETA ran a campaign in the Des Moines Register which compared the meat industry to Dahmer’s killing spree. The same ads were rejected by Milwaukee's newspapers, and we can totally see why. There was human life lost here, so for the families of these people to see them compared to farm animals would be incredibly upsetting. As you could imagine, many protested this move at the time.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few dishonorable mentions.

Whips and Chains Belong in the Bedroom

Breast Milk Ice Cream

Criticizing Steve Irwin

Monkey Selfie

Ingrid Newkirk’s Will

#1: Holocaust On Your Plate

The Holocaust is a dark and agonizing chapter in human history. Yet in 2003, PETA decided to make it the central theme in their new campaign. Titled “Holocaust On Your Plate”, the campaign compared images from the Nazis’ genocide of the Jewish people to images from factory farms. The idea was inspired by Jewish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer, who said of animals, "In relation to them, all people are Nazis." Many people and organizations were infuriated by the comparison, and the exhibition was banned in Germany. It took two years for PETA president Ingrid Newkirk to apologize for the misstep.

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