Is it a clever way to make a point – or extremely bad taste and terrible timing?
Opinions are divided over an ad created by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that plays off of the horrific beheading on a Manitoba bus last week.
The ad makes reference to an innocent victim’s throat being cut and compares it to the way chickens, cows and pigs are killed on factory farms.
“His struggles and cries are ignored,” it reads. “The man with the knife shows no emotion … the victim is slaughtered and his head cut off … his flesh is eaten.”
The reference is to a murder onboard a Portage La Prairie bus, where 22-year-old Tim McLean was beheaded by another passenger sitting near him. The accused, Vince Weiguang Li, has said little during recent court appearances and has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment.
Meanwhile PETA, which is famous for its sometimes excessive attempts to make a point, believes it’s done just that. “If this ad leaves a bad taste in your mouth, please give a thought to what sensitive animals think and feel when they come to the end of their frightening journey and see, hear and smell the slaughterhouse,” the campaign concludes.
A group spokesperson is unapologetic. “Like human victims, animals in slaughterhouses experience terror when they are attacked by a knife-wielding assailant,” Lindsay Rajt explains in a statement. “We are challenging everyone who is rightly horrified by this crime to look into their hearts and consider leaving violence off their dinner plates.”
She insists the ad is meant to stir controversy and raise awareness of the casualness with which society tolerates animal cruelty. But some think they’ve gone overboard and that the idea is in terrible taste – including residents where the headline-making crime took place.
PETA was actually trying to place the ad in a local Portage La Prairie newspaper but its editor is refusing to even consider the idea. Tara Seel won’t give specifics about why her publication won’t accept the spot, but there’s no escaping the irony in the name of the paper the controversial group wanted to run it in: The Daily Graphic.
Reaction on the streets of Toronto was largely negative.
“This is not about animals,” one local argued. “This is about a human life that was lost, and sadly lost, a very innocent person.”
“Very predatory,” another adds. “It seems PETA’s taking advantage of the situation and connecting two things that are maybe not so related.”