I really want to work for the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. I grew up in a family that occasionally attended PETA events, usually on Christmas (to protest the abuse of the enslaved reindeer, forced to haul an obese septuagenarian around the world in a single night) and Easter (to protest the abuse of chickens forced to sacrifice their eggs to the masses, not to mention the horrors of eating bunny effigies).
I have fond memories of the time spent at PETA events with my family, which is why I’d like to become an employee of the organization. The problem is that as an adult I’ve sort of strayed from integral PETA beliefs. It’s because of bacon, honestly. I took one bite and I fell in love. I could probably go egg- and dairy-free without too much trouble, but giving up bacon? I just can’t do that. I can’t deny my love for bacon, even for PETA.
It shouldn’t be a problem, though, right? After all, surely they don’t expect everyone who works for them to share their beliefs. They have no right to dictate what other people eat and wear on their own time.
Yet, when I visited their website to look for open positions, I saw this statement:
Do you have to be vegetarian or vegan to work for PETA/FSAP?
Some of our positions do require you to be vegan (e.g., all campaign positions, fundraising and development positions, and media spokesperson positions). However, many positions do not require this. We look for compassionate people to work here.
I’m interested in education, so it’s likely any job I applied for would have the requirement of being vegan or vegetarian. How can they do that? How can they force you to hold to their moral and ethical beliefs just because you work for them? Why can’t I be a spokesperson for vegetarian/veganism while still eating bacon when I’m off the clock? If any of my coworkers or students see me eating bacon, I can just explain that what I do off the clock is my own business, and there’s no contradiction whatsoever between eating BLTs at home while telling the public that the slaughter of pigs for meat is cruel and inhumane.
Actually, a better idea would be to persuade my coworkers and students that bacon should be an exception to the rule. All I have to do is explain that my civil rights are being violated if I’m forced to work for an employer who expects me to abstain from bacon as a condition of employment, since I don’t personally believe that eating bacon is unethical or immoral. After all, a morality clause in my contract should be null and void if it violates my personal beliefs. I have to follow my conscience (and I should have no negative consequences for doing so).
I tried telling my plan to a friend, and she gave me a funny look. I asked what was wrong, and she made several points:
- I could easily work for an organization other than PETA if I want to eat bacon.
- I wouldn’t be forced to work for PETA – it would be my free choice to do so. If I got into the job knowing that I am supposed to abstain from bacon, it would be unethical of me to eat bacon or to encourage others to do so, whether I was on or off the clock.
- PETA’s requirement is to ensure that people who are dedicated to their mission are employed by them, since they only want people who are genuinely passionate about their cause to be in charge of communicating their message to others.
- If I voluntarily signed an agreement as a condition of hire to be a vegan or a vegetarian at all times, and and then I was caught eating bacon or supporting others who eat bacon, it’d be a violation of my contract and a fireable offense.
I don’t really understand her reasoning, but then, she’s one of those weird Catholics who think that Catholic schoolteachers should abide by the morality clauses in their contracts. What does she know?