Discussing Obama and the Fly with PETA
I heard that you sent a reproving letter to President Obama for swatting a fly in his recent interview. I’m sure that in so doing you attracted some criticism, but I say bravo! I applaud your tireless efforts to foster a compassionate culture.
Human beings often don’t think before they act, and it is natural to swat a fly. Contrary to media reports, we didn’t condemn President Obama for acting on instinct. When the media began contacting us in droves for a statement, we obliged, simply by saying that the president is human and not the Buddha and shouldn’t be expected to do everything right.
The media made this into “flygate,” and some outlets falsely reported that PETA was “angry,” “upset,” and “miffed.” That gave us the opportunity, when asked, to point out that we do offer lots of ways in which to control insects of all kinds without harming them. There is even a chapter in PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk’s book, The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights, about how to rid your home of “uninvited guests.” As a result, many people started ordering the PETA Catalog’s Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher (https://www.PETACatalog.org/prodinfo.asp?number=HP220). We even sent one to President Obama.
We have lots of other items on our agenda, as you can imagine, and PETA’s focus will remain on our core issues-promoting alternatives to eating animals, opposing fur and products made from animal skin, opposing laboratories that torment animals, and fighting the abuse of animals in circus training camps as well as other overt abuses that fall within our mission statement, which states that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment.
As a result of this story, people have been flooding PETA’s Web site, learning about our campaigns, and watching videos about factory farming and the fur industry. As one blogger pointed out (http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/06/22/dem-or-repub-if-you-hurt-a-fly-peta-will-bug-you/), “[I]t’s brilliant from a public relations point of view …. I’m writing about it-you’re reading about it. Some people might have jumped online and researched the organization and the less laughable causes it stands for. Heck, some might have joined or made a donation.”
We can’t stop all suffering, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop any. We support compassion for all animals, even the most curious, smallest, and least sympathetic animals. We hope that everyone will take inspiration from Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who included insects in his realm of compassion and would stop to move a worm from hot pavement to cool earth. Schweitzer said that we each must “live daily from judgment to judgment, deciding each case as it arises, as wisely and mercifully as we can.” Our wish is for all people to act wisely and mercifully toward animals. To learn ways that you can help animals, please visit http://www.PETA.org/actioncenter.
Thank you again for writing and for the opportunity to clarify our position.
The PETA Staff
No, no no! Now is not the time to play apologist. You’ve taken a bold stand on the crucial and relevant issue of presidential fly swatting, and in so doing you have won the fleeting attention of millions.
Quickly, while the eyes of the world are still upon you, you must go after the real villains: SC Johnson, producers of Raid ant and roach poison. The barbarous wholesale slaughter of our arthropod brethren facilitated by this soulless conglomerate must stop! It’s an insect Holocaust, we might as well be herding them into tiny showers. It is rumored that several cans are stored in White House cupboards. The hypocrisy of the executive branch knows no bounds.