PETA has come under fire after an ad it produced for the Super Bowl compared racism to “speciesism.”
The animal rights group, which claims the ad was barred from airing during Sunday’s game, shared the one-minute clip to Twitter on Friday and was immediately bombarded with criticism.
“THIS is the PETA Super Bowl ad the NFL apparently didn’t want you to see and pressured FOX Sports to snub,” PETA wrote in the tweet. “It envisions a world where respect is the right of every being and pays homage to Kaepernick and movements rejecting injustice.”
— PETA (@peta) January 31, 2020
The video shows numerous wild animals imitating former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who famously kneeled during games in protest of police misconduct, as “The Star-Spangled Banner” is hummed in the background.
The ad closes out with a message stating that “Respect is the right of every living being” before the hashtag #EndSpeciesism is displayed.
The video has currently received over 3.7 million views on Twitter and an overwhelmingly negative response.
“How y’all take a gesture that’s symbolic of Black Americans’ fight against police brutality, apply it to animals & think it’s a good idea???” Twitter user @kayoticcc asked.
How y’all take a gesture that’s symbolic of black Americans’ fight against police brutality, apply it to animals & think it’s a good idea???
— Acacia (@kayoticcc) January 31, 2020
I'm sure Kap was thinking about justice for squirrels and trout when he took a knee.
— Scott Anderson (@MustangScott) January 31, 2020
People really didn’t appreciate the attempted comparison.
“Are you comparing police brutality on African Americans to me eating bacon??” Twitter user @matchu_chutrain asked.
Are you comparing police brutality on African Americans to me eating bacon??
— Mat (@matchu_chutrain) January 31, 2020
You all REALLY, REALLY needed at least one black person in the room while you brainstormed this.
— Travis DeCoster (@MyStupidTown) January 31, 2020
I am not too keen on a gesture to raise awareness for black victims of police brutality being reappropriated for animals. And I love animals.
As with any PETA-related content, the post was also flooded with criticism from fans of eating meat.
“Why is my pork chop kneeling?!” Twitter user @ybnfazeasapkang said.
Why is my pork chop kneeling?!
— Kang Johnston (@ybnfazeasapkang) January 31, 2020
Just another reason to love the NFL
— Jimmy's Famous Seafood (@JimmysSeafood) January 31, 2020
That reminds me, I need to get the chicken wings for Sunday. pic.twitter.com/QBuyoreYJH
— Tim Muff (@TimMuff) January 31, 2020
Many also took offense to the fact that PETA showcased fish kneeling as well. (Hint: fish don’t have knees.)
FISH DON’T HAVE KNEES.
— Mike Forty (@fortyounce) January 31, 2020
If I saw a fish kneel in real life I would go absolutely bananas. Just completely bonkers. Ape, even.
— Lyle Rath (@LyleRath) January 31, 2020
In response to the backlash, PETA defended its ad and even claimed that it was supported by Kaepernick himself prior to its release.
“We are inspired by all movements that remind us to open our hearts and minds and reject every form of injustice,” the organization said. “We were thrilled to hear back from Kaepernick, who appreciated that his bold activism inspired our #EndSpeciesism Super Bowl ad.”
We are inspired by all movements that remind us to open our hearts and minds and reject every form of injustice. We were thrilled to hear back from Kaepernick, who appreciated that his bold activism inspired our #EndSpeciesism Super Bowl ad.
— PETA (@peta) January 31, 2020
While many described the group’s actions as “tone-deaf,” the incident is far from the first time that PETA has made such controversial comparisons.
In 2016, PETA was met with a similar backlash after it compared animal cruelty to human sexual assault. The organization also defended that ad in a statement to the Daily Dot at the time.
“Who can honestly complain about the sexual abuse of women if they accept the sexual abuse of other females who happen not to be human but have the same vulnerability to pain?” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said.