Ten thousand dollars is a lot of money. Can we just begin with that as a given?

Here’s a news-item simply fascinating in its utter stupidity: PeTA– you know, the organization whose acronym means People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals– well, it turns out that PeTA just spent about ten thousand dollars of its donators’ money to aid in the killing of 1800 lobsters.

When I heard about this, my reaction was “Excuse me?” My second reaction was “Jesus Christ, I’m glad I never donated to them.” My third reaction, fueled by having to go through the task of return-addressing my own Christmas cards this year (the humanity!) was “Man, I miss those address labels they used to send me for free.” I used to cut the PeTA logo off of them, though.

N-E-WAYZ, I first heard about this huh?-inducing story over on the Post Punk Kitchen forums. PeTA, in accordance with their mission of advocating for the ethical treatment of animals of all species (well, other than healthy cats and dogs they don’t feel like finding new homes for, and, apparently, lobsters), paid for two insanely expensive machines that electrocute crustaceans (more on that in a minute) in order to enable a bunch of charity-dinner goers to have a more touchy-feely experience, when. . . you know what? Never mind. I’m gonna let the reporters over at The Independent explain this, maybe they can make it make some (any) sort of sense:

. . . a planned demonstration of the CrustaStun turned into an unmitigated disaster– not least for 1,800 lobsters. It was a charity event for 600 guests in Tucson, Arizona, whose organisers had consulted the animal welfare group Peta, to see if there would be any objection to having lobster on the menu. Peta said it would be acceptable, if the lobsters were killed in the CrustaStun machines rather than being boiled or drowned in fresh water. Peta bought two of the machines and paid for Mr Buckhaven [the inventor] to travel out to demonstrate them. The machines were shipped out separately. Sadly, the delivery company let them down, 1,800 lobsters died horribly, and the machines turned up in Tucson two days late.

Wait, what? I’m sorry, I’m going to need to go through that piece of news one more time. Here’s the play-by-play of what The Independent is saying, as far as I understand it:

  1. A charity organization asked PeTA if they could serve dead animals at an event (Why? Why would they do that? The organization who stood to benefit from the fundraiser wasn’t an AR organization, so what I want to know is what precipitated this first step toward insanity)
  2. PeTA said basically “Sure! Go ‘head, long as you zap the varmints ‘stead of boilin em!” (This is also confounding, since at some point PeTA’s position was “animals are not ours to eat, wear, or experiment on.” Oh wait, it still is, at least on their merch that they’ll sell you. . . so give them some money so they can keep using your dollars for amazing animal-rights activism like, well, uh, sending 1800 lobsters to the electric chair)
  3. Then PeTA says, “Wait, wait, hold up, we’ll friggin buy those tiny lobster-electrocution machines for you!
  4. “Also we will fly the inventor from the UK to demonstrate how best to electrocute lobsters! Deal?”
  5. The “CrustaStuns” go missing, whoopsee
  6. 1800 lobsters get dumped in boiling water to kill them, a process that can take up to five minutes for the lobsters to die
  7. ::head scratching around the world, from vegans and non-vegans alike::

Hey, PeTA?

Classy. Moving on, according to The Independent, the version of the machine PeTA purchased two of costs about £2,500 apiece, or about $4,000. So 8 grand on the lobster-shockers alone. But since PeTA paid to fly the inventor to Arizona and back, from the UK, that must come to over ten thousand dollars.

What could a reputable AR organization do with ten grand? I dunno, probably something other than sending 1800 lobsters to their collective, squealing deaths. As a commenter on the PPK pointed out, that’s enough money to just cater the whole goddamn event vegan, or do any number of things that do not involve murdering 1800 lobsters in any fashion whatsoever. Huzzah!

I cannot imagine most of PeTA’s donors would be too pleased that so much of their money went to this debacle, but then again, what the hell do I know? Really, the only reason I’m giving PeTA any richly undeserved attention at all is that it’s the Christmas season, when a lot of folks are doing their annual charitable giving, and I’m hoping maybe some person who was thinking about donating to PeTA (in ignorance of what a terrible organization they really are) will find this, or any of the other, similar posts across the blogosphere from people who’ve called PeTA out for being shitty, and decide to donate to a decent organization like Farm Sanctuary, Peaceful Prairie. Alternatively, things that would also do more good than supporting PeTA: go out to dinner at a local vegan restaurant or buying a vegan gift for a friend from Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe or from someone on Etsy (suggestions: search for etsyveg_team. One more suggestion: send this to me).

If you’re voting with your dollars, giving to PeTA is basically ensuring you’ll be a victim of election fraud.