As a vice president for policy and government affairs at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, I have debated animal protection issues around the world, frequently engaging with representatives from the meat, fur, animal-experimentation and circus industries. But a funny thing started happening about seven or eight years ago: The other side stopped showing up. Although PETA is always happy to discuss and debate animal rights issues, animal exploiters are no longer willing to do so. I believe their newfound timidity may have something to do with the fact that their positions are so transparently indefensible and the public can see right through them. It’s understandable why representatives of the meat industry would be afraid to hold an open and honest forum. I encourage all students and faculty to attend the Meet Your Meat forum 7 p.m. Thursday in B102 Wells Hall. Students and representatives from the agriculture department are especially welcome to attend.
After the event, Messing reported that most of the student in the audience came from agriculture backgrounds. After a few controversial comments from PETA and SPAR, several farm kids stood up to explain hog production practices, the joys of agriculture life and the importance of food production in the United States.
Of Freidrich's speech, Messing said, "Bruce really is a master of talking in a circle and not getting anywhere, which I totally expected. We had a great showing of animal science faculty in attendance. Despite what Freidrich said, I think the event went pretty well in our favor."
What do you think about animal rights groups preaching to students on college campuses? How should the agriculture industry respond? How can we work to ensure that these groups don't continue to push unfavorable legislation forward? Has something like this ever happened in your area? Would you have been brave enough to debate the VP of PETA in an open forum? What can we do to prepare ourselves for these kinds of debates?
Bruce Friedrich is PETA’s vice president for policy and government affairs. Reach him by e-mailing Ryan Hulling, college campus coordinator for peta2.com, at RyanH@peta2.com.