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Thursday, May. 16, 2002
In keeping with the randomness of recent entry's, I was really hoping to come up with a substantive body of text for a title I had in mind. A title I positively itch to use. It deserves its' own marquee, and a prominent spot in Atlantic Monthly or Esquire or, at the very least, MAD magazine.

The PETA Principle.

Have you ever seen a more provocative title? Has all the hallmarks of an endearing, informative yet vaguely smart-assed editorial. Since I'm hardly one to be passionate about their cause, PETA would no doubt be banging on my door demanding a retraction, parading in front of my house with accusatory (and possibly misspelled) protest signs and throwing buckets of fake blood on my lawn.

Which couldn't hurt. The blood part, I mean. My weed filled lawn needs all the help it can get.

If for some reason the anacronym of PETA has escaped you I'll explain. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Their national headquarters is based nearby, I pass the building nearly every week, and always glance over to see what they might be up to. One time they were protesting fur as a clothing choice and got all excited about an ad campaign with the slogan "I'd rather go naked than wear fur!"

So they did. They went naked. Except for a bit of ornamental poster board with pithy catch phrases and shoulder straps, they paraded around their building on a very busy street and waved at vehicular passers-by. I suppose it came off as an effective demonstration in that the majority of the motorists honked horns or waved back, so perhaps they felt like they'd accomplished something. The fact that these onlookers were laughing their collective asses off sailed right over their heads.

It's only because they tend to alternately fascinate and groan me (i.e. - cause one to groan out loud at the sheer lunacy of it all) that I mention them at all. I mean, any group of individuals who celebrate the introduction of the Veggie Burger (flame broiled! tasty!) at Burger King needs no introduction from me.

Like I said, I just like the title. The PETA Principle. By definition, the Principle holds that anyone can have a concept of a cause, can organize it into a non-profit tax deferred corporation and have a wonderful time lambasting other peoples beliefs and daily habits. All in the name of doing "What's Right for You." Selected religious organizations have been doing it for years.

Yes, since I have no mind of my own, I depend on the learned scholars at PETA to educate me on the various wrong-doings at meat processing plants, hog farms and veterinarian offices. I appreciate their efforts to spread the harm caused by milk and dairy products by promoting beer as a viable substitute (truly I do. And no, I am not making this up). I really like the way they plant their employees into undercover work at animal shelters and doggie farms to report perceived ills and often blatantly manufactured stories about feline and canine abuse. Complete with blurry video shot from a mini-cam tucked into a satchel.

Locally, the residents of our fair city have come to regard this group as a lunatic fringe. I think when they first got started there was a majority who were quite supportive. Treating animals Ethically. It was a noble thought, and hardly one that you could argue with fundamentally. I don't go out of my way to kick cats or tip cows or hurt any animal just for the fun of it. Although there are a couple of those ugly Muscovy ducks in the neighborhood that I have issues with.

Trouble is, PETA just couldn't let it go at that. Rounding up feral cats and pulling dogs out of sewer grates doesn't quite make for continuous employment. (And make no mistake, this, like so may non-profit groups, makes a living. They might not show a profit at years end but they work out of a large and no doubt expensive building on the waterfront, pay salaries and buy equipment and fly around the country just like any other corporation.) So they started with the vegetarian thing. Equated animal suffering to hamburgers on the grill. Put up a website with pictures of sad-eyed cows being led to the executioner. Made guilt over eating a chicken sandwich the chic thing to do. Hauled in some Hollywood heavyweights with time on their hands and an agenda for media exposure to do some appearances. Put the touch on some corporate sponsors.

Presto! We have credibility, not to mention salaries.

I suppose it's only a matter of time before they get around to taking their argument against the wanton cruelty shown toward living things to its' inevitable end. When they start ranting about the cutting of grass and the pruning of roses. I mean, doesn't plant life have feelings too?

But then they'd have nothing left to eat, you see. Their tofu sandwiches and broccoli spears would have to go.

Given the amount of talent they have for attracting a national media audience, I'd be more than happy to see them apply themselves to the Ethical Treatment of Humans. As a warm blooded specie (if you buy the argument that Man is merely a form of animal, which I don't) we could stand a little more ethical behavior ourselves. Quite possibly, a lot more. Perhaps they feel that dictating ethics to the masses is more palatable when applied to fuzzy kittens than to thinking adults. More heart warming. Less inclined to divide due to race, religion or voting habits.

By the way, please don't write me and give me hell about not liking cats. I like them just fine. So does my Black Labrador. He's a member of DICKS (Dogs Inclined to Clobber Kittens and Squirrels).

He's also a meat eater. Which has got to cause PETA no end of distress.

It might explain why he ignored their last letter, asking for a donation.

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