Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
Last month, PETA began an anti-crab consumption campaign in Baltimore, of which the most notable facet was a massive billboard that read "I'm ME, not MEAT." The billboard featured a friendly looking crab and the phrase "See the Individual. Go Vegan." Needless to say, the residents and business owners of Baltimore were quite displeased with someone attacking what many consider to be the essence of Maryland.
Personally, I agree with the campaign — crabs are boiled alive for our consumption, and that is inhumane. I don't really see a gray area. The process of raising animals for slaughter is inherently cruel, and being boiled alive is just one of the horrific methods humans use. However, I don't hold it against anyone for mocking PETA's efforts; it is hard to separate the organization's good works from their numerous scandals involving euthanasia. Regardless of how many of those shocking reports were true, they leave a lasting impact. Their reputation undermines their efforts, and a significant rebranding is in order.
Jimmy's Seafood, a local restaurant outraged at the campaign, took to Twitter and shut PETA's campaign down pretty quickly. However, the majority of tweets from Jimmy's Seafood revolved around PETA being hypocritical and villainous. The restaurant linked to an article detailing PETA's "Secret Slaughter of Kittens, Puppies," and the organization dropped out of the conversation immediately afterward. Obviously, this made them look worse because instead of responding or defending themselves directly to the restaurant, they simply ghosted Jimmy's Seafood.
Huffington Post called PETA's practices of euthanasia in their animal shelters an "Open 'Secret'" — and that's why many consider them hypocrites. Jimmy's Seafood and other Baltimore residents didn't even need to justify the inhumane practices of killing crabs — PETA's reputation made their anti-crab campaign a joke from the beginning. Regardless of how I feel about the message of the campaign, the fact that PETA was the one sending it rendered it inconsequential.
If PETA wants to be taken seriously, they need to rebrand. The first things I think of when I hear their name are the numerous scandals they've had. I don't think about the good things they've done, like fighting animal testing and spreading awareness about cruelty in the meat industry. They need to significantly reform their practices, or else any old seafood restaurant can shut down their campaign simply by digging through their past.
Liyanga de Silva is a junior English major. She can be reached at email@example.com.