Society and Culture

Sarah Palin vs. PETA: Welcome to the Overreaction Olympics

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Sarah Palin has a unique place in my heart–after all, there are very few people who I can count on to continually surprise me with the weird scandals they manage to get themselves involved in. But she may have just outdone herself.

The most recent Palin scandal started with a photo she posted to Facebook on New Years Day.

It shows her son, Trig, standing on his service dog, Jill, in order to reach a high counter. To me, this read as a relatively innocent photo. I’m not arguing that anyone should stand on dogs–that’s not nice–but little kids climb all over animals all the time. Palin definitely should have grabbed her son rather than post a picture, but in my eyes, it’s not really that big of a deal.

But that’s where this goes from “OK, probably not the world’s best pic to post on social media” to batshit crazy in a way that only a story involving Sarah Palin and PETA can.

So, after that picture was put on Facebook, PETA released this statement:

It’s odd that anyone—let alone a mother—would find it appropriate to post such a thing, with no apparent sympathy for the dog in the photo. Then again, PETA, along with everyone else, is used to the hard-hearted, seeming obliviousness of this bizarrely callous woman, who actually thought it appropriate to be filmed while turkeys were being slaughtered right behind her in full view of the camera.

Full disclosure here–I’m not a huge fan of PETA either. I think what it stands for–an end to animal cruelty–is excellent, but I think that its reactionary policies have the potential to do more harm than good. Anyway, the group got all upset about the picture of Trig stepping on the dog, and then Palin responded with a very long letter on her Facebook page responding to the PETA statement.

Have you come down with a case of the common but exhausting “Wow-These-People-Like-To-Hear-Themselves-Talkitis” yet? Because I certainly have.

Palin’s statement started as follows:

Dear PETA,

Chill. At least Trig didn’t eat the dog.


Did you go as crazy when your heroic Man-of-Your-Lifetime, Barack Obama, revealed he actually enjoyed eating dead dog meat?

Palin is referring to Obama eating dog meat as a child when he lived in Indonesia. Palin’s ethnocentrism here is important to recognize; the difference is that Obama was eating food that was a cultural norm in the place he was living. He describes it in the same paragraph as eating snake. Furthermore, he was a nine year old. He didn’t have much autonomy in that matter–Palin as a full-grown adult had the responsibility to take her kid off the dog that he was standing on.

Moving right along through Palin’s letter, there’s a super weird part where she accuses PETA of being a hypocrite in a very strange manner, saying:

Aren’t you the same anti-beef screamers blogging hate from your comfy leather office chairs, wrapped in your fashionable leather belts above your kickin’ new leather pumps you bought because your celebrity idols (who sport fur and crocodile purses) grinned in a tabloid wearing the exact same Louboutins exiting sleek cowhide covered limo seats on their way to some liberal fundraiser shindig at some sushi bar that features poor dead smelly roe (that I used to strip from our Bristol Bay-caught fish, and in a Dillingham cannery I packed those castoff fish eggs for you while laughing with co-workers about the suckers paying absurdly high prices to party with the throw away parts of our wild seafood)? I believe you call those discarded funky eggs “caviar”.

What? I am very certain that PETA is anti-fur and anti-leather, almost rabidly so. What she’s accusing PETA of here isn’t hypocrisy but elitism. Which to be fair, I doubt that the people at PETA are struggling to put food on their tables, but the entire thing seems like a weird attack on wealthy people (and let’s remember, Palin is doing pretty well herself). So in a post about being hypocritical, Palin is hypocritical, and wow, this headache is getting pretty bad.

Honestly this entire thing is so silly and features some of the most dramatic overreactions I’ve seen in a while. So, I have some advice for both of you embroiled in this lovely little smorgasbord of misplaced outrage.

Sarah Palin: don’t let your kid stand on a dog. Or if you do, don’t post pictures of it. It’s not worth it. I know he’s probably not hurting the dog, but if you really want to be the role model that you claim to be, just be careful with the social media. Also, learn how to say “yeah, probably not my shining moment. I’m sorry,” without making it about partisan politics.

PETA: There are animals actually suffering. Pay attention to them. You just wasted manpower, outrage, and attention over a dog that is probably fed better than I am. Yet thousands of animals languish in shelters. Use your powers for good


Anneliese Mahoney
Anneliese Mahoney is Managing Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at



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