The folks at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA) seem to have made deception into a higher art form. PeTA is, of course, known for its deceptive and hyperbolic propaganda, but I think a new low in deceit may have been reached here, even for them. PeTA recently released an "undercover" video in which they claim to expose "cruelty" at a South Carolina monastery that produces eggs. However, according to a report from a Charleston, S.C. TV station, the PeTA video is not completely what it seems to be because PeTA included footage in the video that was not shot at the monastery's farm. This report can be read, and watched, here.
In this report, PeTA vice president Bruce Freidrich claims that there was no intentional deception because the narrative claims that not all footage was shot at the monastery. However, that doesn't wash with Doug Furguson, Professor of Communication at the college of Charleston, and it doesn't wash with me either. I believe Professor Furguson is correct when he accuses PeTA of intentional deception to add shock value. It seems to me to be highly intellectually dishonest to be adding footage that is, in fact, not really relevant to the discussion at hand, in this case what is, or is not, going on at the abbey's farm, NOT at another location. At the very least it is a type of red herring or strawman fallacy, intended to distract the viewer from what the abbey may, or may not be doing. At the very worst it is, as Professor Furguson pointed out, a cowardly attempt to deceive and add cheap shock value. Given PeTA's track record, I leave that call up to the reader. I know where I stand. All of this, of course, begs the question: If PeTA has engaged in these kind of questionable tactics here, how is the public to trust them on other similar matters? How do we know any of their other videos, from "Meet Your Meat" to their undercover videos at Covance laboratories are fully intellectually honest either? Kudos to the reporter, Ms. Conant, and Professor Furguson for calling PeTA out.