Zombie lobster raises ‘hand’ in PETA ad

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, also known as PETA, ran an ad in the Oct. 4 edition of the Bangor Daily News that depicts a lobster raising its ‘hand’ (claw, actually) as if it is indicating that it does not want to be “dismembered alive” in Linda Bean‘s “slaughterhouse.” It comes after the group released video it said it had recorded inside one of Bean’s processing plants.

PETA is a very astute organization. They know how to draw people’s attention to their message through provocative ads or ‘protests,’ but know not to do anything too taboo. Yet, there are plenty of people who criticize the organization and its methods. I am sure some anti-PETA people will criticize me for blogging about the group at all because they will argue I am giving the group what it wants: media attention for its claims about animal abuse.

Whatever. I’m not going to get into a broader discussion about the merit of the group’s claims or methods here. But I do have two questions about the ad.

The first is (and please don’t assume that I am opposed to advertising revenue): why put the ad in the print edition of the BDN? The vast majority of lobster caught in Maine is not consumed in Maine, so PETA is off the mark if they are trying to target the industry’s consumers (which is why Maine’s lobster industry promotes its product out of state).

Maybe PETA just wants to fire a shot across the bow of their perceived adversary? Thumb their nose at Ms. Bean in her backyard? Guilt fishermen and processing employees into forsaking their livelihoods? I can’t figure it out. Lobster easily is the state’s top fishery, and a major player in Maine’s top industry (tourism), so trying to get Mainers to disavow how they catch, process and sell the crustaceans seems a longshot to me. But I hear PETA has a lot of money, so maybe they’re OK with not getting a return on every investment.

The second question raised by the ad is: why depict a dead lobster raising its claw? As most Mainers (and BDN readers) know, lobsters aren’t bright red when they are alive. They are a dark reddish-brown when alive (well, most are) and then turn bright red when they are cooked. The one depicted in the ad cannot be dismembered alive because it is already dead. Is it a zombie lobster? Where did PETA get it?

Seriously, though. Wouldn’t showing a living lobster raising its claw in the ad make more sense and be more consistent with the group’s message about protecting animal rights and lives?

Bill Trotter

About Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors. He writes about fisheries, marine-related topics, eastern coastal Maine communities and more for the BDN. He lives in Ellsworth. Follow him on Twitter at @billtrotter.