I like Penn and Teller, but they’re wrong on this video demonizing PETA. Their entire argument is based on their belief that animals are completely secondary to human beings. They say in the video that they would personally kill every chimp on earth to save one drug addict with AIDS. If you believe that animals are entirely worthless compared to humans, then you will certainly conclude that PETA is crazy and extremist.
However, if you understand that animals feel pain and suffer when they are deprived of food, shelter, even love, then are you not morally obligated to help them? What type of moral system excludes living things that can suffer?
Animals have their own lives. We can help or hurt them in living these lives but they do not exist for us. Penn and Teller, as atheists, should understand that the idea that animals exist for our use is based on the monotheistic religions. We may not agree with all that PETA does. I don’t and I support PETA (as well as the Humane Society and others) financially and am on their activism mailing list. But PETA’s goal of reducing animal suffering at the hands of humans is noble and their theatrics make a positive difference for animals.
I commented on this video on YouTube and someone insisted they’re joking about the chimps. How would you know they’re joking? If they joke about killing chimps, it’s to prove the overall point that they regard animals as fundamentally inferior to human beings, such that you are justified in using animals as you see fit. They had time in their diatribe to put some limitations on appropriate animal suffering and they didn’t. I take them at their word.
Once again, I like Penn and Teller generally but they obviously let their libertarian ideology get in the way of their compassion here.