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Commentary: From Fake News to Censorship

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Fake news may be a new term in the realm of politics, but radical animal activists have been using it for years. They sneak onto livestock farms, take undercover video, and then edit it together to tell a story of animal abuse that is not true. With this, they have destroyed the good reputation of many livestock farms, caused serious financial harm, and impacted consumer perception of livestock production. When farmers have tried to get laws passed to stop this tactic, these groups cry censorship and hide behind the first amendment. Yet, now these groups are using censorship as a new weapon against the animal industry.

The web site TripAdvisor provides ratings and reviews of hotels, resorts, restaurants, cruises, and entertainment destinations. You can even book reservations and tickets to many of these destinations. Starting in 2017 TripAdvisor entered into an alliance with PETA. TripAdvisor is no longer selling tickets for certain attractions that involve animals, such as elephant rides or swimming with dolphins. This obvious move toward censorship comes despite very high ratings for many of these venues. Many animal attractions are rated highly on TripAdvisor, with travelers reporting the conditions firsthand. In fact, TripAdvisor itself awards a number of venues that have elephants rides or swim-with-dolphins activity a “Certificate of Excellence,” which is awarded to attractions that “consistently earn great reviews from travelers.”

PETA likes to claim that animals in captivity are being harmed. Yet, like so many of PETA’s claims, the facts do not back this up. Take dolphins, for example. According to the Center for Consumer Freedom, between 1973 and 2003, the median life expectancy for dolphins in human care was 5 years longer than for dolphins in the wild. Additional research has found that the stress hormone cortisol is lower after dolphins have interaction with humans. All of this indicates that swim-with-dolphins programs are good for the animals, along with being something that many families enjoy. There’s a big difference between a ragtag operation and a well-regulated venue that many people experience firsthand and comment on. TripAdvisor’s ban on selling tickets for credible, humane attractions only serves the narrow agenda of PETA—not families planning a vacation.

So, what’s next? Will Travel Advisor stop listing reviews of steakhouses, horse racing tracks, and the like? Will PETA try to pressure other travel sites to engage in similar censorship? Will they put pressure on ticket selling companies like Ticket Master to stop selling tickets to animal or meat-related venues? Will they try to stop credit card companies from processing purchases at such establishments?

If you raise animals, eat meat, or just care about your freedom, you will express your outrage to sites that are aligned with these radical animal groups and that are censoring the information they provide you. You should not stand for censorship in the media or from web sites that claim to be honest and fair.

By Gary Truitt