NORFOLK, Va., Nov. 27 — A year after promising to temper its often graphic
messages in light of the Sept. 11 attacks, People
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the nation's largest animal rights group,
has prepared a "turkey terror" commercial that draws on Americans' fear of terrorism.
The new television campaign, scheduled to run through the holiday season, depicts a terrorist takeover of a supermarket. The store manager is shown bound and gagged, with shoppers cowering, as an unseen hostage taker warns that "innocent creatures" will be beaten, scalded and dismembered if anyone resists.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has prepared a commercial depicting
a supermarket takeover, replete with a bound and gagged manager, by a terrorist
who turns out to be a turkey puppet.
The commercial eventually reveals the "terrorist" to be a turkey puppet with a demand that people stop eating meat.
"We feel that the public is ready for this type of message," said Lisa Lange, vice president for communications with the group, known as PETA, which claims a membership of 750,000 and is based in Norfolk.
But several television stations have already rejected the commercial, Ms. Lange said, and only one, the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis, has accepted it.
"What happened to the kinder, gentler PETA?" said Sherrie Rosenblatt, director of public relations for the National Turkey Federation, an industry group. "I think it is always inappropriate to promote propaganda that puts fear in anyone's mind."
The advertisement, which PETA calls the "turkey terror" campaign, is the sharpest departure yet from the group's year-old promise of less provocative animal rights messages.
"In the past, we showed people the blood, the gore, the suffering of animals," the group's president, Ingrid Newkirk, said less than a month after the Sept. 11 attacks. "Those images are not what's right to show people."
"Because society has changed, we're changing with it," Ms. Newkirk said then. "If society goes back to being complacent, we'll go back to provoking it again."
Ms. Lange said such a time had now come, although she maintained that the "turkey terror" message was also tempered with humor.
"A fake supermarket takeover has zip to do with the events of Sept. 11," she
said. "You'd really have to be a big grump not to see the humor in all of this."
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