"PETA's Ingrid Newkirk" and "Hey, NASA, quit hoggin' space!"

Readers respond to Peter Brandt's interview with Newkirk and to Eric F. Lipton's essay on civilians in space.

Published May 2, 2001 7:00PM (EDT)

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Ingrid Newkirk compares PETA's job to the cleaning of the Augean stables. How right she is, although the destination of the excrement seems to be PETA's P.R. campaigns.

PETA shows the tact of Louis Farrakhan in its ad campaigns, whether it's trying to convert a terrorist to veganism, playing on body image issues in the gay community or exploiting women to protest exploitation of animals in circuses.

The shame is that PETA could actually win people to its cause by focusing on vegetarians who are positive role models, such as athletes. Instead, it chooses cheap shock tactics. What's next, a campaign saying "Vegetarians Are Leaders" with a picture of Hitler?

-- Aaron Varhola

I absolutely love it when PETA does something unbelievably ridiculous. I, in turn, am enabled to do something equally groovy. Even though it costs me a small fortune, I eat nothing but veal at every meal for a solid month. (Hey, didja notice that veal and meal rhyme?)

Thank goodness I'm a first-generation German-American. There are so many choices available to me: Wiener schnitzel, veal chops, weisswurst and something I have craved since my dear departed mother passed away: stuffed veal breast with whipped potatoes. Thank you so much, PETA, for giving me the opportunity to reconnect on a regular basis with my roots.

And to think that at one time, my goal in life was to be the world's fattest vegan. (You know, a guy can eat only so many french fries, onion rings and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and drink only so many beers, before he just breaks down and eats a cheese omelet.)

-- Walter Schonhardt

The combination of the good works of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA and the horror of hoof-and-mouth disease will create a new and saner world comprised of vegans and only vegans -- not vegetarians. Vegetarians are fence sitters. At least PETA cannot be blamed for hoof-and-mouth. A round of applause for animal rights people is long overdue.

-- Perry Lawrence

"Just as we treated blacks as incapable of maternal love and so on, we continue to use animals as if they are commodities when they are actually families, cultures and individuals."

When I read phrases comparing the horrors of slavery with the suffering of animals, I shudder. Caring for animals is noble and all, but let's keep the distinctions clear and stay away from sweeping statements. Your techniques are working, Ingrid; I am seriously repulsed, but not for the reasons you'd like.

-- Gomez

Salon: How do you respond to people who claim PETA cares about animals at the expense of caring about humans?

Newkirk: I'd like them to give us one example.

Uh, how about when you ran that shitty billboard campaign with Rudolph Giuliani making light of his prostate cancer?

What about people like Alec Baldwin, who called a guy driving a horse carriage through Central Park a "faggot" and challenged him to a fistfight?

What about that disgusting ad for neutering one's cats that shows a male cat uncomfortably humping a female cat. A child watching such an ad would surely be a little ... affected.

I'm pro-vegetarianism, pro-animal and Christian, and I have come to despise PETA.

-- Charlie Kondek

Read the story.

While I agree with Eric Lipton's general feelings about wanting to get into space, I must disagree that it is NASA's job to cater to such high-sky rollers. At a time when we've demanded that NASA perform "faster, better, cheaper," do we also want it playing concierge and bellhop on the International Space Station? What's taking private industry so long to move into space tourism? Perhaps things are moving so slow because space travel still isn't a trivial matter of going fast enough to get out of the gravity well. Plus, in this litigious age, no one is going to send "regular" folks out without being 99.9999 percent sure about [the ability to bring] them back completely safe and without harm.

Besides, NASA has already learned once the hard way [the danger] of overselling the glory of space travel: Remember Christa McAuliffe?

-- B.J.D. Cruz

Reading Lipton's article, I'm reminded of Gregory Benford's comment that what we need is a FedEx-like space agency, but what we have is the U.S. Postal Service.

How ironic if the Russians end up the pioneers and path breakers in space, while this nation of former explorers and frontiersmen fills out forms, wrings hands over every mishap and fails for want of trying!

Bravo to Dennis Tito. "Terribly serious sums of money involved"; "Professionals only"; "Need to learn more"; "Unacceptable risks" -- these should be seen for what they are: old ways of saying, "Not us. Let someone else do it." We owe Tito a big thanks for reminding us that, like the "West," space, too, is just another place to explore.

-- Anil Menon

Eric Lipton got it right in his recent article.

I was born long before any human had walked on the moon. In the '50s I was dreaming about it, though. I imagined that by now we would at least have a self-sustaining colony on the moon, but alas, not so.

I cannot understand NASA's fuss over letting a civilian visit space station Alpha. (Hey, there's a catchy name!) It should clear out its publicity department and try again. One of the reasons that NASA has problems with funding is that it can't seem to generate much excitement about space exploration -- nowhere near the level that was generated in the '60s. Tito in space! What a great story! What do the chuckleheads at NASA do when it's dropped in their collective lap? Whine and insult the Russians ...

-- John Weiss

So NASA is whining about Tito going into space? Let's not forget that Tito is not the first space tourist, but the fourth -- NASA allowed Sens. Garn and Glenn, and Rep. Canady, to take "junkets" into space. I'd rather have Tito buy his way into space with honest cash than have NASA give trips to officials as political fodder.

-- Gary Greenbaum

By Salon Staff

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