PETA rebuffed over anti meat ad

Nicholas Read and Lori Culbert
Vancouver Sun

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

A U.S. animal-rights group faced a setback Tuesday in its efforts to launch an advertising campaign linking eating meat with violence toward humans --and by implication to the case of missing women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Promotional campaigns by Peta have frequently used controversial methods. (global BC)

The Pacific Newspaper Group, which publishes The Vancouver Sun and Province, refused to run the ad, which the animal-rights group said was the first time that had ever happened in Canada.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had hoped the full-page ad, originally scheduled to run in Thursday's Province, would be the starting point for a national campaign coinciding with the trial of pig farmer and accused serial killer Robert Pickton.

Pickton is facing charges in connection with 15 women missing from the Downtown Eastside.

The link to Pickton is only implied in the advertisement, which urges readers to adopt a vegetarian diet; but PETA's press release does mention the suspect in Canada's worst serial murder case by name.

"PETA has just released a print ad that illustrates the well-established connection between animal abuse and acts of severe violence against people, and compares what is done to animals on factory farms and slaughterhouses to the ways in which accused serial killer Robert William Pickton apparently dealt with his human victims," says the press release issued Tuesday.

PETA intended to launch the advertisement Thursday in The Province, but Pacific Newspaper Group spokesman Don MacLachlan said a decision was made Tuesday not to run it.

It is the first time that a Canadian company has ever refused to

carry a PETA ad, says PETA vegan outreach director Bruce Friedrich, adding that there have been many cases of U.S. companies refusing PETA's ads.

MacLachlan would not give a reason for the decision, but in general, Pacific Newspaper Group judges potential advertisements by legal, ethical and moral grounds before deciding if they will be printed.

Families of some of the 63 missing women from the Downtown Eastside were outraged Tuesday when told about the content of the advertisement and the PETA press release. They said it was cruel to link the murders of 15 women to the slaughter of animals.

Friedrich said it was not his organization's intention to offend the families.

"Our hearts go out to the human victims of violence every bit as much as our hearts go out to animal victims of violence. Our point is simply that eating meat supports violence and bloodshed," Friedrich said.

He said PETA was disappointed the Pacific Newspaper Group had chosen not to run the ad.

"Obviously, we're sad that they've decided to censor us," he said.

"The point that animals suffer and die and value their lives like we do is not controversial."

He also said he didn't know what the decision would mean to PETA's plans to publish the ad in other Canadian newspapers before Pickton's preliminary hearing gets under way.

"I hope we'll still be able to do that," Friedrich said. "We would still very much like to run the ad in The Sun, and will explore our options in other cities."

He said PETA had already paid $3,219.86 for the advertisement to reserve the space in Thursday's Province. The money will be returned.

The ad is intended to make people consider what they can do to make the world less violent, Friedrich said.

"It's easy to look at a tragedy like this and feel powerless. Adopting a vegetarian diet is one good way to say no to continued violence and suffering," he said.

Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn Crey is one of the missing women, said the advertisement is upsetting because it exploits a human tragedy to promote PETA's political agenda.

"I think they're being unethical in choosing this course of action," he said.

"It does hurt when people do this without meaningful forethought. Someone in the organization put down their moral compass."

 Copyright 2002 Vancouver Sun

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Updated: August 21, 2016