Jennifer Fulwiler is a writer and speaker who converted to Catholicism after a life of atheism. She’s a contributor to the books The Church and New Media and Atheist to Catholic: 11 Stories of Conversion, and is writing a book based on her personal blog, ConversionDiary.com. She and her husband live in Austin, TX with their five young children, and were featured in the nationally televised reality show Minor Revisions. You can follow her on Twitter at @conversiondiary.
You can’t make this stuff up. From the website of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals:
It’s a two-fer: Get your animal companion fixed, and get yourself fixed too! Human overpopulation is crowding out animal life on the planet, and dog and cat overpopulation is creating a euthanasia crisis that is a crying shame. Disappearing wilderness, vanishing water resources, and pollution is the price that future generations will pay for more human births, while losing their lives is the price that millions of homeless dogs and cats pay when guardians neglect to “fix” their companion animals.
Every year in the U.S., an estimated 6 to 8 million lost, abandoned, or unwanted dogs and cats enter animal shelters. The best way to combat the companion-animal overpopulation crisis is to have your cat or dog neutered. And with a global population of almost 7 billion humans, more of our species could use a (voluntary) snip too.
Now, one lucky man can be reproduction-free, free of charge, just like his pooch or feline friend. During National Infertility Awareness Week (April 24 to 30), PETA will give one free vasectomy to a man who has recently had his companion cat or dog neutered.
Like many people, I was baffled by the unfathomably ironic and inappropriate connection of this event with Infertility Awareness Week. I know that PETA isn’t exactly known for its subtle diplomacy, but surely even they didn’t mean to do something so hurtful. After reading the rest of the post and more of the content on their site, my theory is this: They are so deep in their human self-hatred that they honestly didn’t realize that Infertility Awareness Week is not about acknowledging infertility as a good thing.
The post and the whole premise of the giveaway is a sort of self-loathing fest. The requirement for entry into the contest is to fill out a form, then leave a public comment answering the question: “Why should PETA neuter you?” From the website:
One eligible winner will be selected, based on his level of creativity and persuasiveness in arguing why he deserves to win and how his sterilization will most benefit both humans and animals. The winner agrees to have his name, city, state, and likeness appear on any PETA materials and websites and those of its affiliates. [Emphasis mine]
Now, I know plenty of folks who have chosen to get sterilized. Obviously as a Catholic I don’t think that’s a good thing, but I see how reasonable people can sometimes feel like it’s something they must do. But this? To publicly stand up and say, “ME! ME! I’m the one who most needs to be kept from reproducing!” can’t be good for anyone’s self esteem.
The odd position that the contest puts its entrants in, the organizers’ honest misunderstanding about the offensiveness of associating the event with IAW, the pain that it caused PETA supporters who dearly wanted biological children and weren’t able to conceive—taken all together, it shines a spotlight on a specific aspect of the anti-human-reproduction mentality. Words like “overpopulation” or “reproductive control” are safely impersonal. But when you get down to it, we’re talking about individual moms and dads and sons and daughters. It’s easy to make sweeping statements that “people” should have fewer offspring; it rolls right off the tongue to bemoan population growth caused by “too many kids.” But it gets awkward when you zoom in and start putting faces and names to this ideology. When we start saying that the world would be a better place if John Smith didn’t have another son or daughter riding the tricycle around the front yard, or when we look a sixth child in the eye and say “it would have been better if you weren’t born,” or when we take the heartbreak of infertility and celebrate it as something positive…it starts to get a little uncomfortable.
And so if there’s any upside to this situation, I think it’s that it’s a loud, public illustration of the truth that whenever you say that new human life is a bad thing, it’s always personal.