Whose responsibility are animal rights?
Ingrid Newkirk is an animal rights activist, an author, and the president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). She is best known for the animal rights awareness campaigns she organizes on behalf of PETA, which she cofounded in 1980. As PETA's president, Ingrid has spoken internationally on animal rights issues—from the steps of the Canadian Parliament to the streets of New Delhi, India, and from the drowning tanks of Taiwan to the halls of the U.S. Congress. Newkirk is the author of several books, including Free the Animals, You Can Save the Animals, and 250 Things You can Do To Make Your Cat Adore You.
Question: Whose responsibility are animal rights?
Ingrid Newkirk: I think that personal responsibility is always the key. You can’t always expect government to do something for you, or the corporations to do something for you. We are a consumer based society. So everything that’s on the market place is because we said we wanted it; or because someone convinced us that we wanted it, and it looked shiny and we got it. So we have to be conscientious consumers. And we have to say, “This is what I want to buy. This is what I want to entertain myself. This is where I wish to go.” Those kinds of things, and then that guides the marketplace. We cannot just wait for government, although seizing personal responsibility, I think we have to go to our representatives and say, for example, the farm bill .
Part of taking personal responsibility, I think, is that you’ve got to make your legislators listen to you. And it’s not as hard as people think. For example the farm bill subsidizes mega corporations like Tysons and ConAgra. These aren’t Willie Nelson’s poor farmers. These are mega businesses. They give a lot of money to the election campaigns. And in return our government shells out billions of tax payer dollars to them in subsidies. And what do they do? They then buy up all this pork, and milk, and these other unhealthy, fattening foods and dump them in the school system so that our children are eating them. You know you are a constituent. You should get on the phone to your senators, your members in Congress and say, “I don’t want to subsidize these big corporations that are killing America with healthcare costs with obesity that are being cruel to animals.” So I think that personal responsibility can have a voice on Capitol Hill, but only if we the consumers and the people who have elected those officials make sure they’re hearing us more than they’re hearing the corporations.
Recorded on: November 12, 2007
Waiting around for the government to do something is not an option, Newkirk says.
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