Thursday, February 20, 2014

Alex Giglio
Professor Wielgos
College Writing 2                                                 
            People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA for short, is the biggest nonprofit animal rights organization in the world.  PETA created their website in a specific way to get their argument across. PETA strategically placed every visual and text on their website to help them get their point across about animal abuse to strengthen their argument. They combined both visuals and texts to present their argument, of animal rights, and help show the purpose and motivation behind their organization. All together PETA does a great job at showing their argument about animal rights by expressing the rhetorical strategies of Ethos, pathos, and logos through the way that they created and arranged their website.
PETA’s purpose of their website is to stop animal abuse and neglect from happening and to inform the public about animal rights. PETA wants to present their argument about animal abuse with the use of visuals and articles about recent animal abuse cases. Their intended audience for PETA is anyone who is an animal lover or anyone who owns an animal. It is aimed more towards older people between ages 20-40 because of the cruelty they show in the pictures and because those would be the people who are old enough to donate money.
PETA has established a well-known credibility, ethos, over the years. One of the first images you see when viewing their website is an image of three Olympians all wearing shirts that say PETA on them, followed by the heading “Olympic Athletes Medal in Compassion”. They used this imagine because Olympians and athletes our seen as role models and our looked up to around the world. PETA uses this picture on purpose so that the viewers and audience will see that even famous people such as Olympians are supporting their campaign against animal rights. This gives PETA credibility so that people see them as a reliable and credible organization. Also on the homepage is a headline that reads, “Meet the People behind PETA.” They have this headline visible on the homepage so that the audience can develop some type of connection with the organization and to show viewers that they are proud to be a part of this organization and aren’t afraid to show you who they are. PETA’s website is developed and setup in a way so that anyone who views there website understands that they are a powerful and reliable organization against animal rights. PETA used the rhetorical strategy of Ethos so that their audience understands that they are a credible organization.
Fig. 1. Before and after picture of a starved dog. Source: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, “Man who starved dog gets life”
Not only is the rhetorical strategy of Ethos used, but also PETA uses strategy of Pathos throughout the website to add emotion to their argument. PETA’s website is full of pictures of beautiful and cute animals that catch your attention followed by depressing headlines about abused and neglected animals. PETA does this on purpose so that the visual catches your eye and then you think to yourself, how can someone treat such a cute and helpless animal like that? They are trying to evoke emotions such as anger, sadness, and guiltiness in their audience so that you want to join their cause and stop animal violence. For example, the biggest picture on PETA’s website is one of a dog whose bright blue eyes are just staring at you making the dog seem helpless and innocent. The dog’s bright red tongue is hanging out of its mouth making the dog seem like it is full of joy and just wants to play and have fun. This picture is followed by the headline “Man who Starved Dog gets Life.” This makes the viewer want to click on the link so that they our able to read more about the story. Once you click on the link the first visual you see is a before and after picture of the dog being starved. The picture is quite disturbing as you see that same dog look like it’s close to death and you can see how skinny and sick the dog has become because of being neglected. The dogs blue eyes are no longer visible and instead you can see the pain in its eyes, and its fur had become faded and lost its color. The picture makes you feel sad for the dog and evokes hatred towards it owner. They made the picture side by side like this so that the audience can see what abuse and neglect can do to such an innocent animal and it makes you want to get up and do something to help animal abuse from happening so that nothing like this can happen to other animals. PETA also has some visuals of animals, on their homepage, that look unhappy with their life and you can tell our being neglect by their owners. One example of how they show this is a picture of a grizzly bear who is obviously in a zoo, who is looking at the ground and backed up into a corner, and by its body language, you can tell how depressed it is. The use of dark colors and the cement background that is all beat up sets a depressing and sad mood in the picture. They use the rhetorical strategy of pathos to make the audience feel angry towards zoos for keeping these animals captive and do not respect their animals. They use these pictures on purpose to get their argument across, and place them in middle of the screen so that the visual catches your eye. All together PETA combines both visual and text in their website to evoke emotion in their audience. They mostly focus on the picture were a cute animal catches the viewer’s eye and leads you to the headline which relates to animal violence. These two visuals combine to create shocking and heartbreaking stories that make the audience members what to help their cause, to stop animal abuse, and become a member of PETA themselves.
            In addition to the rhetorical strategies of ethos and pathos, PETA also uses the strategy of logos to create their argument against animal cruelty. PETA created their website so that the audience will see, through the visuals that they use, the effect that animal abuse has on the animal. PETA organized their website so that the first thing you see when you open their website is a picture of animals who are playing and are extremely happy. They do this so that the viewer feels a connection with the animal and so that they do not want any harm to come to this animal.  The articles that PETA writes are of quality and they have a lot of evidence to back up their claims. A weakness in their argument that I found is that they use the slippery slope fallacy. They make the reader believe that since one zoo is abusing their animals, then every zoo is abusing and neglecting their animals. They are trying to trick their audience into believe that most animals in the world are abused and or neglected. Overall, PETA has good logic behind their argument and have the evidence to back it up.
            PETA’s website uses the rhetorical strategies of pathos, to evoke anger and sadness, ethos, to prove their credibility, and logos, to create their argument against animal cruelty. PETA’s website predominantly focuses on the visuals to catch the viewer’s eye and then complemented by the text to help strengthen their argument. The visuals let the audience see what exactly animal abuse and neglect does an animal and gives the viewer a deeper understand of how bad animal abuse can actually be. The prupose behind PETA’s website is to stop animal abuse and neglect and to do this they had to convince the audience that animal abuse is a big problem in our society, and to prove their point they used articles and visuals to back up their side.

Works Cited

Mullins, Alisa. "Man Who Starved Pit Bull Gets Jail Time." PETA Man Who Starved Pit Bull Gets Jail Time Comments. N.p., 11 Feb. 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2014. <>.

Works Cited
Mullins, Alisa. "Man Who Starved Pit Bull Gets Jail Time." PETA Man Who Starved Pit Bull Gets Jail Time Comments. N.p., 11 Feb. 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2014. <>.

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