November 21, 2007 at 12:19 am Leave a comment

turkey.jpg “I am an Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA” is now available on HBO “on demand.” It can also be reserved at Canadians can watch it on The Movie Network on Wednesday, November 21. And it will air many more times on HBO over the next few weeks. Go to and click on “schedule” to find out when.Embedded in an engrossing documentary about a woman who some people will love, some will judge as crazy, but whom everybody will find fascinating, are brief flashes of some of the most horrifying animal cruelty footage I have ever seen. It includes animals being skinned alive for fur coats and cows struggling on the floor drenched in their own blood.  Most surprising and gratifying is the turkey slaughter footage, airing across America during Thanksgiving week. I think most people have little sympathy for turkeys compared with concern for other animals — believing turkeys to be less intelligent or sentient. But I think all viewers will have sympathy for the live turkey at the Butterball slaughterhouse, pinned beneath a 200lb man who is amusing himself by sitting on her as if she is a footstool, and slowly squashing her as she pathetically kicks her legs.  Please, please thank HBO for airing this documentary. HBO takes comments about its documentaries at

The documentary, particularly the second half, includes criticism of PETA tactics made by other activists who feel that PETA tactics trivialize the animal rights cause. (Make sure you watch the film from the beginning so you get the whole picture.) Those activists make good points, and come across as saner and more realistic than the PETA activists. And of course it is better for the animals if animal advocates seem grounded and likeable.  But the irony is that the other activists interviewed are only getting a chance to represent themselves so beautifully on HBO because of PETA, and PETA’s willingness to look foolish or wild. The other groups, who refuse to engage in stunts, are not attracting HBO documentaries. And while the focus of the documentary is on the activists,  nobody could watch the whole of this documentary and suggest that it was not overall helpful to the animals — particularly with the Butterball turkey scenes airing during Thanksgiving week.PETA also gets much flak from within the animal protection movement for its euthanization of dogs and cats. I personally do not support the practice, believing that animal protection groups should not kill animals, even animals destined to die . But I was glad the topic was addressed in the documentary as I think it shows that the extent of negative emotion towards PETA surrounding this issue is at least somewhat misplaced. Whether or not one supports the act, the scene makes it clear that the intent behind PETA’s actions is compassionate.   Again, please thank HBO for this fascinating and groundbreaking documentary. Go to .  And please watch it with your friends who know little about the cause. They will enjoy it, and learn much.


Entry filed under: AMERICA, HUMANITY.


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