Penn and Teller Wrong on PETA

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.


6 thoughts on “Penn and Teller Wrong on PETA

  1. Head Shaker

    There is a reason no one has commented on this and much of your other posts. You are so misinformed. Your stupidity is astounding. I only found you crap blog because I was looking for the show. You’re an idiot.

  2. Chris

    Well, Mr. Head Shaker, it appears you’re not brave enough to use your real name or intelligent enough to provide a counterargument. Surely if I’m so misinformed or stupid, you can easily crush me with your intellect. Like many others, you’ve forgotten to engage your reason when leaving a comment, but at least you can spell.

    I invite you to use your mind and provide an actual argument. Otherwise you’re wasting everyone’s time.

  3. Will

    I really have to wonder why people hate PETA with such passion. All they really want to do is minimize suffering and protect creatures that cannot effectively protect themselves from abuse and exploitation by humans. If you disagree, then just disagree.. On some level, I think people know they have a point about certain things, and that generates the vitriol, because they make people feel hypocritical. I really am surprised that Penn and Teller attacked PETA, but then I’m not. When people feel that they are being called out as hypocrites, they tend to return like fire, even if it’s not justified. PETA is such an easy target in our world (our country specifically), and they just seem to be big-hearted people that get upset at the thoughtless treatment of animals. I can think of much, much worse agendas. Not a very classy move by P&T, and a misrepresentation in many ways, I think. Hopefully things will change. I would love to see people start to treat wild animals and pets with much more kindness and benevolence. We’ll see, I guess. Guys seem to be especially prone to hating PETA. I can think of nothing more masculine than telling some jarhead PETA hater to “f#ck off”–that I think for myself and won’t just jump on the PETA-haters train because that’s what every other cookie-cutter sot does. What’s masculine about being a damn conformist who just repeats what he’s heard from some other blockhead? Much more masculine to do what’s right after deciding for oneself what that is and not caring what the relatively non-thinking masses have to say about it. Good luck, PETA. Here’s to not giving a sh#t about the jarheads. Keep on keepin’ on.

  4. Will

    And by the way, Chris, I read your “About” page. We have you beat by one cat–all but one taken in by those that abandoned them to die in our rural area. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have learned that the late Christopher Hitchens was correct about the difference between dogs and cats. Take in a dog and give him food, water, and shelter…he’ll think you’re a god. Do the same for a cat, and he’ll think HE’s a god. : ) I’m sure you know what I mean. I enjoy your site. Interesting stuff. Now I’ll check back in a few weeks and see who’s called me a f#g for my comments. Just a matter of time. Whatever…

  5. Chris Lamke Post author

    Great observation on cats versus dogs. I spend most of my little free time on Google Plus and my poor blog languishes, but I do want to come back to it at some point and spend more time on it, at least copying my writing on G+ to this blog.

    Your love of cats tells me you have good character. As Mark Twain said, “When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.”

  6. Chris Lamke Post author

    I agree with you, Will. People attack PETA at least partly because it makes them feel uncomfortable. I would prefer PETA act differently in some ways, but I’m grateful they exist and take the fight to those who have no regard for lives other than their own. We will become a mostly vegetarian world someday and I think PETA is helping move us in that direction, while in the meantime they draw attention to the worst atrocities against those who can’t defend themselves.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment!


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