For the past several days, I have been posting stories of our movement’s success, including groundbreaking accomplishments in 2019 and groundbreaking developments for the year to come. Here’s even more good news, not just for animals, but for myself and other people who have worked to expose the grisly truth about PETA and the thousands of healthy animals they kill every year.
Maya was taken from her home and illegally killed by PETA representatives.
As many of you already know, in 2017, PETA filed a lawsuit against several reporters and critics of their killing. The lawsuit alleged a grand, paranoid conspiracy to attack PETA. The lawsuit included various “co-conspirators” they claimed were involved, including a family they paid $49,000 in a legal settlement after they were caught taking and illegally killing their dog (Maya); the Accomack County Sheriff’s Office, which arrested the PETA representatives; the Virginia Attorney General’s Office which launched an animal crimes unit in response to the killing of Maya; and various others, including The No Kill Advocacy Center, my organization, and me, the author of a series of articles about PETA’s killing, which culminated in the book, Why PETA Kills.
Why PETA Kills contains testimony from PETA employees that provide first-hand accounts of PETA’s killing and the deadly philosophy behind it. The information they provided was used to corroborate newspaper articles, on the record sources, government documents received under the Public Records Act, testimony and information from civil and criminal cases against PETA, videotape evidence, and admissions of killing by PETA officials. Their testimony was used for a series of articles and ultimately became Why PETA Kills. (Why PETA Kills is available free for download until Friday per the link below).
For more than two decades, I have been working to expose the truth about PETA: that far from being a voice for the rights of animals as is commonly believed, employees at PETA headquarters in Norfolk, VA commit violence against them, injecting thousands puppies, kittens, dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, and other animals every year with a fatal dose of barbiturates, often after acquiring such animals through trapping, lies, and outright theft. At least 39,276 animals so far have fallen victim to PETA, many of them young, healthy, and adoptable. It is only by exposing the deadly, gut-wrenching reality about what is happening at PETA that we can ever hope to bring such atrocities against animals to an end.
While PETA sued others directly, suing me in such a manner would be dangerous for them. Not only would it allow me to force the testimony of Ingrid Newkirk, the architect of PETA’s killing, and the acolytes who do her bidding under penalty of perjury, but it would allow me to seek information that further documents what public records and the PETA employees I spoke with already reveal: that PETA intentionally seeks out animals to kill and that the majority of those animals are healthy and adoptable. They also know I would never settle, nor agree to a dismissal. So instead, I was listed as a “co-conspirator,” giving PETA the ability to issue a subpoena in order to (try to) seek the names of my confidential informants at PETA, without allowing me to demand documents and depositions of PETA leadership in return.
And that is what they did: demanding via subpoena that I reveal the names of PETA employees who spoke to me on condition of anonymity about PETA’s killing of animals. I refused. In an attempt to force me to do so, PETA filed a motion to compel their disclosure claiming that as an animal advocate, I was not entitled to the protection of the First Amendment, a point of view the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which assisted with my legal representation, called “alarming”:
We’re concerned about the legal efforts to require Nathan Winograd to reveal the confidential sources for his reporting on PETA’s practices. Both the First Amendment and California’s constitution protect those who engage in journalistic activity… and any efforts to limit these protections should be alarming for all newsgatherers.
But I had the law on my side. As courts previously ruled, the First Amendment protects “investigative reporting.” That includes “authors such as Lincoln Steffens and Upton Sinclair[, who] exposed widespread corruption and abuse in American life. More recently, social critics such as Rachel Carson, Ralph Nader, Jessica Mitford, and others have written books that have made significant contributions to the public discourse on major issues confronting the American people.”
And I had the facts on my side. As my attorney argued,
Every crusading journalist in that pantheon of heroes cited by the court would have flunked PETA’s putative ‘journalism’ test, for their journalism was inseparable from their advocacy. Indeed, Sinclair and Nader took their advocacy onto the campaign trail and sought public office. Winograd and NKAC’s intertwined investigative and advocacy work are no different from that done by Nader and his nonprofit Public Citizen.
The Court denied PETA’s motion, a victory for animals, investigative journalism, the First Amendment, and breaking ground by extending those protections to new/non-traditional media, such as bloggers.
Following that ruling, a whistleblower from inside PETA openly came forward and admitted that PETA staff lie to people in order to acquire their animals to kill, kill despite life-saving alternatives, and indoctrinate people in a cult-like atmosphere she described as “terrifying.” (A short video about her experiences can be viewed here.)
With the evidence of their misdeeds mounting, PETA’s spurious lawsuit continued its collapse. When two of the named defendants filed a motion with the court to compel PETA to provide information under oath, PETA, as predicted, cut and run. They responded by dismissing the case against them rather than providing those documents and testifying. That showed three things: they have something to hide; their lawsuit is without merit; and, the lawsuit was filed for purposes of intimidation and harassment in an attempt to silence critics.
But now the case has completed collapsed as PETA has dismissed the lawsuit against the rest of the defendants, spending tens of thousands of dollars of donor funds on attorneys, including one of the largest and most expensive law firms in the country, that achieved exactly nothing. In the end, it was a complete and utter rout. PETA’s baseless, legally inept, scare tactic masquerading as a lawsuit was dismissed without any concessions.
But four important things came out of that victory. First, it extended First Amendment protections for investigative journalism to new/non-traditional media.
Second, it demonstrated that PETA may have deep pockets and will misuse the court system in an attempt to intimidate people into silence, but their strategy will always be limited by the fact that depositions and the witness stand could compel employees, including Newkirk, to testify under oath. Consistent with overwhelming evidence already available, such testimony would likely be damning, and PETA knows it. They have a lot to hide. Therefore, the lawsuit demonstrated that if people stand up to PETA’s donor-funded intimidation tactics, rather than cower to them, PETA will invariably back down.
Third, their empty saber rattling may have led to another whistleblower openly coming forward.
Fourth and finally, it led me to Ralph. As fate would have it, on the way to court in the case, my wife and I found a little dog who had been hit by a car, bleeding in the gutter. We wrapped him in my wife’s coat and rushed him to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital where he was given the care he needed, including pain medication. After recuperating at our house, we found him a loving, new home, consistent with our belief in the ethical treatment of animals. Were it not for PETA’s meritless lawsuit, we would never have found him. For obvious reasons, I am glad it was me and not PETA reps who saw him in the gutter on the way to the courthouse. If history is any guide, PETA would have injected him with poison instead.
For all of those reasons and the overall victory, I want to thank everyone who contributed to my legal defense fund. I want to thank the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Press Freedom Defense Fund for taking it on. I want to thank Joshua Koltun, my attorney and more importantly, warrior for the First Amendment. I want to thank others who stand up to PETA. But most of all, I want to thank my wife, Jennifer, who reminded me — as I faced the specter of incarceration for refusing to allow my informants to be put at risk of retribution by PETA — that we all have a duty to honor the sacrifices made by generations before us by likewise defending the freedoms they fought for. We do that by standing up to oppression and abuse of power, even at our own personal peril.
Onward and upward…
If you want to learn the how, what, where, when, and why, Why PETA Kills is available for free download on Amazon through Friday. (Even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can still download and read it for free on any e-reader, smart phone, or PC if you first download the free Kindle reading app. Ignore the Kindle Unlimited language and click under it where it says “$0.00 to buy.”)
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