‘Jolting’ Ad Compares Milwaukee Killings to Animal Slaughter
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ An animal rights group has taken out an advertisement comparing meatpackers to accused mass killer Jeffrey Dahmer - a tactic denounced by the meat industry as ″an obscenity.″
″What we hope to accomplish is to point out that abuse is abuse regardless of the species,″ said Kathy Guillermo, lifestyles campaign director for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
″We hope it will jolt a few people into realizing that what happened to those people is no different than what happens to animals,″ she said.
Dave Mehlhaff, spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, said the ad is ″not just tasteless, it’s an obscenity. For them to try to capitalize on this shocking tragedy in Milwaukee, we think is sick and demented.
″It’s an insult not only to the victims and their families, but to all livestock producers,″ he added.
The ad, scheduled to run in Friday editions of The Des Moines Register, reads in part:
″Milwaukee ... July 1991. They were drugged and dragged across the room ... Their legs and feet were bound together ... Their struggles and cries went unanswered ... Then they were slaughtered and their heads sawn off ... Their body parts were refrigerated to be eaten later ... It’s still going on. If this leaves a bad taste in your mouth, become a vegetarian.″
The ellipses are in the ad copy.
PETA sent copies of the ad to various news organizations. Stories about the controversy caused dozens of people to complain to the Register.
″We are getting some calls from readers who are upset, but a majority are coming away with an understanding that we have an obligation to run it,″ said Nancy Jo Trafton-Dyer, national advertising manager for the newspaper.
″We are providing a vehicle for free speech. As long as it is not fraudulent or unlawful or libelous, we are obligated to accept it,″ she said.
Ms. Trafton-Dyer also said the newspaper insists that ads must not be ″offensive to good taste.″ She said she and two others at the paper, including publisher Charles Edwards Jr., decided that the animal rights ad did not violate that standard.
″If we don’t accept ads like this, it sets a very bad precedent. Censorship is something that, once it takes hold, is very hard to stop,″ she said.
She said the ad cost $11,200.
Ms. Guillermo, speaking from PETA’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C., said the ad is deliberately shocking.
″Many people don’t have any realistic notion about the origin of the piece of meat on their tables,″ she said.
The ad was rejected by the Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper and Ms. Guillermo said the animal rights group chose to pursue the Register because there are a large number of animal slaughter houses in Iowa.
Bob Dye, a vice president for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Inc., said executives rejected the ad for its content.
″The initial reaction was, ’Does PETA understand what was going on in Milwaukee?‴ Dye said.
Dahmer has confessed to killing 17 males, dismembering most of the victims.
Paul Obis, founder and publisher of the Vegetarian Times in Oak Park, Ill., agreed that the ad ″exceeds boundaries of good taste.
″I’m sure that appeals to people who are radical about these issues, but a lot of people with less radical views are offended, and that includes me,″ he said.
Mehlhaff, the pork council spokesman, said the ad was misleading when it implied that animals are ″drugged and dragged″ before slaughter. He said animals are not allowed to suffer at packing plants.
″Instead of pouring thousands of dollars into this sort of pornography, they could be doing what livestock producers are doing, researching to improve animal well-being,″ he said.