by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is planning to launch a pornographic website to promote its animal rights and vegan diet message, a move that critics say will backfire and ostracize them from mainstream society.
PETA spokeswoman Lindsay Rajt said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles on Tuesday that the group has applied with ICM Registry to launch the website peta.xxx.
Rajt says the site will feature "tantalizing" videos and photographs, which will lead viewers into animal rights messages. She noted that Norfolk-based PETA has used porn stars and nudity to get its message across in the past, including an annual speech online in which a PETA representative undresses. That video later shares a message about slaughterhouses.
She says a pornographic site will allow PETA to reach a broader audience and that publicity about the site is just as important.
"I think the bottom line is we live a in a 24-hour news cycle where over the years we've found our racier actions are kind of a fast track way to get people to stand up and pay attention about the plight of animals," she said.
Rajt says November is the earliest that PETA could receive approval for the site. Critics say that by resorting to pornography, PETA is alienating itself from a large swath of the population that might otherwise be sympathetic to its cause.
"I just don't want to understand why they want to offend people who would potentially support at least part of their cause. There have got to be other ways to draw attention to their cause," said Robert Peters, general counsel for the New York-based anti-pornography group Morality in Media. "Metaphorically speaking, they're getting in bed with hard-core pornographers to prevent cruelty to animals. That borders on insanity."
Rajt said PETA officials would track the website to determine if people are viewing the animal rights messages and not just the nudity. Past experience has shown that they will, she said.
J. Justin Wilson, senior research analyst for the food-industry backed Center for Consumer Freedom, said moves like this by PETA make them increasingly irrelevant in mainstream society.
"They don't seem to be changing the debate anymore, I think in large part because people are writing them off as whack jobs," he said from Washington. "This is one more example of them being their own worst enemy. If they're trying to win the hearts and minds of people considering being vegetarians, this is probably the wrong way to do it."
The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. first reported PETA's plans.