PETA has come under fire yet again, this time as a result of their decision to criticise Australia’s own Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, on his birthday.
The criticism came after Google posted a Doodle to honour Irwin’s memory on what would have been his 57th birthday.
Quoting Google’s tweet, PETA wrote:
“#SteveIrwin was killed while harassing a ray; he dangled his baby while feeding a crocodile & wrestled wild animals who were minding their own business. Today’s #GoogleDoodle sends a dangerous, fawning message. Wild animals are entitled to be left alone in their natural habitats.”
People weren’t impressed.
Irwin wasn’t just a success at home – people all over the world fell in love with him thanks to his TV show, The Crocodile Hunter. I’ve personally met dozens of Americans who immediately associate my being Australian with Irwin, alongside Crocodile Dundee, Finding Nemo, and the Sydney Opera House.
His death in 2006, the result of a stingray injury to the heart, shocked many, and people still feel defensive of the man who taught them about fascinating and unique animals.
Instead of apologising, PETA responded to the backlash by doubling down on their message.
Despite their name, PETA themselves have routinely found themselves in hot water over their less-than-ethical treatment of animals.
In 2017, they paid $49,000 to settle a lawsuit after they took a child’s pet chihuahua and euthanised it.
It’s been known for a while that at their shelter in Virginia, PETA euthanises most of the animals it receives. They describe euthanasia as a “tragic necessity given the present crisis”.
PETA has repeatedly been criticised for misogyny, from putting pregnant women in cages as part of a stunt to comparing women to cows. More than once, they have compared the suffering of animals to the things black people in the US have experienced.
They’ve also argued that dairy products are linked to the development of autism.
It’s clear that PETA has one set of standards for themselves, and another, higher set for everyone else.
People like Steve Irwin, who dedicated his life to wildlife conservation and education of the public, whose family runs the Australia Zoo that’s home to the John Oliver Koala Chlamydia Ward and supports charities like Brisbane’s Royal Children’s Hospital and the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, will never be able to meet these standards, because it’s deliberately impossible to do so.
Having different standards for yourself compared to everyone else makes it that much easier to frame yourself as morally superior and morally just, and that’s something PETA loves doing, because it allows them to remain defiant in the face of criticism from almost every segment of society.
I reckon PETA will have a hell of a time finding many supporters in Australia after this latest fracas.
If you come for the Crocodile Hunter, you best not miss.