Project 21 Blasts PETA for Equating Whales in Pens to Shackled Human Slaves

Washington, D.C. – Members of the Project 21 black leadership network are amused and appalled at the latest publicity stunt from the radical People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) “animal rights” group. PETA is suing to take control of five killer whales away from the SeaWorld marine parks, claiming the whales are being held and forced to perform as “slaves” in violation of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“Oops! I just fell out of my chair. PETA’s comparison of SeaWorld and slavery insults the remains of hundreds of thousands of slaves who are buried across the American South,” said Project 21’s Deroy Murdock, a Scripps-Howard nationally-syndicated columnist. “To equate performing killer whales with human beings who suffered the worst possible exploitation short of actual genocide makes the jaw drop. Half of me wants to laugh. The other half wonders if I have been whisked from Earth to another planet.”

Last week, PETA filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to release killer whales named Corky, Katina, Ulises, Tilikum and Kasatka “from bondage” in the SeaWorld theme parks in San Diego, California and Orlando, Florida. The court is being asked to appoint a legal guardian for the whales and also to award PETA attorney’s fees and related costs.

The PETA legal team, which reportedly spent 18 months preparing the 20-page legal complaint, argues the whales are being illegally detained in violation of the 13th Amendment’s prohibition against slavery and involuntary servitude. PETA General Counsel Jeff Kerr explained the team’s logic: “Slavery is slavery, and it does not depend on the species of the slave any more than it depends on gender, race or religion.”

“Even Free Willy would likely find PETA’s lawsuit comical,” said Project 21 spokesman Ak’bar Shabazz. “If we are awarding these whales aspects of humanity, shouldn’t we also be looking for their Harriet Tubman to spirit the whole pod back to the open sea? And who’s protecting the rights of the seals and fish these killer whales ruthlessly hunt in the wild? But, to be serious, for PETA to invoke slavery and seek to employ the anti-slavery provisions of the 13th Amendment to advocate for animal performers is ignorant of the past and the treatment of real slaves at best and revisionist at worst. It’s a slap in the face to those who suffered in bondage as well as their descendants.”

Marine parks such as those in the SeaWorld chain are already regulated under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. SeaWorld officials released a statement calling PETA’s legal reasoning “baseless and in many ways offensive.”

“For PETA to compare penning killer whales to human slavery would be hysterical if it wasn’t so offensive. Our ancestors were raped, whipped, taken from their families, stripped of their religion and culture and defined as property. This is a perfect example of how the left now defines everything as a ‘civil rights movement’ — diluting the history of slavery and human cruelty,” said Project 21 spokeswoman Shelby Emmett. “If our children are taught SeaWorld is the equivalent to the plantation, how will they ever understand the evils of slavery? Sadly, it seems that PETA, like the plantation owners of our past, also think humans are animals.”

David Favre, a law professor at Michigan State University who has advocated for a new legal designation of “living property” that would help advance an “animal rights” agenda, told the Washington Post that he doubts a judge will rule that PETA has legal standing to advance the case, saying, “a court would not be predisposed to open up that box with fully unknown consequences.”, an educational web site administered by the National Center for Public Policy Research, recently posted a profile of PETA, noting that the group may be best known for its use of outrageous stunts that attract attention to its message. It quotes PETA saying “[u]nlike our opposition, which is mostly composed of wealthy industries and corporations, PETA must rely on getting free ‘advertising’ through media coverage… not surprisingly, colorful and ‘controversial’ demonstrations and campaigns like activists stripping to ‘go naked instead of wearing fur’ consistently grab headlines.” As such, the whales lawsuit may be as much, or more, about publicity than about prevailing in the courts.

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for nearly two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (


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