Before her death, Leona “Queen of Mean” Helmsley reaffirmed the validity of her tyrannical moniker by removing any mention of human beings as benefactors of an estate valued at some $8 billion. Unfortunate indeed, although perhaps not as unfortunate as the party in particular that may ultimately benefit from the “mission statement” of her estate: PETA. As reported by the New York Times, Helmsley’s “mission statement” stipulates that “virtually all her estate be used for the care and welfare of dogs.” With this vast sum of money on the table, animal rights rhapsodist and PETA president Ingrid Newkirk has been posturing to claim a share of the estate, saying “it could make such a difference.” No doubt. But what kind difference would it make?
Perhaps the abolition of what Ms. Newkirk describes as “an absolutely abysmal situation brought about by human manipulation,” namely, pet ownership. Ironically, the fortune of the dog-owner Helmsley would be used to squelch this practice that PETA stridently opposes.
Then there are PETA’s other interests. We are all familiar with the cause célèbre of ending fur ownership and PETA’s misogynistic ad campaign. But PETA also fights the kind of animal research that has brought humanity insulin, antibiotics, bypass surgery and organ transplants. Furthermore, PETA has been implicated in supporting the eco-terrorist Animal Liberation Front, whose nationwide criminality included an April 1999 raid here at the University .
Is this band of sanctimonious and violent behavior really the kind of organization that Ms. Helmsley wanted to bequeath a share of her $8 billion? Already, PETA has applied its annual $30 million budget to purchasing stocks, pushing its agenda onto the public through shareholder influence in large companies. We hope that they are not given the means to expand even further out of dimension; otherwise the late “Queen of Mean” may vicariously wound us all.