The blogs went a-buzzing (as they're wont to do) when PETA president Ingrid Newkirk showed up on Glenn Beck's show to join in an unlikely chorus of Gore-bashing. In response to the hundreds of blog posts maligning her (see mine here), Newkirk wrote a column defending the appearance. Her publicist sent us a note, asking us to consider the piece, and I have--it doesn't seem to hold water at all, and I maintain that showing up on Beck's show was a stupid and reckless move. Here's why. PETA & Glenn Beck V. Gore
First of all, Newkirk never actually explains why she showed up on Glenn Beck's show, except that it offered a publicity opportunity. Which would be fine, even though Beck mocks vegetarians as a rule, if she weren't there simply to denigrate someone--the entire purpose of her appearance was basically to wave a banner saying 'Al Gore is a Hypocrite.' But Newkirk never attempts to defend her smear as anything but that--instead she boasts that it drew interest in PETA:
Liberal blogs screamed over my "stupidity," "gall," and "balls" in appearing on FOX and, sin of sins, on that show. Didn't I realize I was "used"? (One might ask who was using whom when some 30,000 people came to PETA.org after the show, and more than 9,000 of them stayed to watch Alec Baldwin's video "Meat Your Meat."Okay, wow--30,000 more people know about PETA now--but millions are armed with new reasons to discount Al Gore's important, positive message. Now they can say, 'Oh look, even the Left hates him! He's trying to save the planet, and he eats meat!' And that's really the crux of this--why does Al Gore need to be perfect?
Al Gore, Indestructible Environmental Superhero!
He's never claimed that he's the ideal enviro-savior, guilty of no green sins at all--that's what all of his detractors would have you believe. He's had the mantle of the era's premiere environmentalist thrust upon him, yes, due to some diligent, tireless good work--and due to some opponent's beliefs that he'd be easier to discount carrying that distinction.
And perhaps it would be nice if he were a vegetarian, but can't he attempt to spread the word about fighting climate change (one of the most urgent and important messages of our time) without embodying every one of the positive changes necessary to successfully do so? The line of reasoning to the contrary lands Newkirk in the arena of all those who discredit Gore's message by pointing to the fact that he lives in a big house, or travels a lot, or doesn't row across the Atlantic to UN summits on a canoe, or whatever. Since he's not the immaculate carbon-free environmentalist, he's a hypocrite--and therefore a prime target for attack.
Can't You Find Another Non-Vegetarian to Pick Who Isn't Busy Saving the World?
And no, Ingrid, it's not that Gore is "off limits" as you say, it's that your whining about his not being a vegetarian is, as so many of PETA's actions are, a transparent publicity stunt that is in no way constructive towards any other aim. And by choosing him as a target, you're adding to the already slew of detrimental white noise obstructing his work. You knew liberal bloggers would be outraged, and that PETA would take center stage--and all you had to do was sell a teensy bit of your soul to Glenn Beck to make it happen.
I'm not arguing that it's a bad idea to advocate eating less meat--it's clear that the meat industry is a huge driver of climate change, and slowing consumption could help quell deforestation, lower methane output, and benefit the environment in myriad other ways. PETA is right that cutting meat out of your diet is one of the best ways an individual can fight climate change. But it's just low to drag down a man who's working to help better the future of the planet by shamelessly pandering to a man who seems not to care whether or not it has one--all just to get your website some page views.