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A rat is a chicken is an animal rights activist
By Scott Carpenter
Every time I log onto PETA's web site I giggle. When I regain my composure I have to sit and honestly remind myself what I'm seeing is for real and what I'm laughing so gleefully at is not the product of some wonderfully warped Gary Larson type mind (no offense intended Mr. Larson) but rather the end result of a very twisted philosophy.
For instance: there's a rolling billboard on their front page that contains the message:
URGENT! STARVING HENS NEED YOUR HELP!
For me the message conjures up pictures of a hoard of placard carrying chickens rallying on the White House lawn chanting slogans such as: "Food stamps for non sapiens!" or "We're finger lick'n hungry!". Peter Singer is the guest speaker and somewhere in the crowd a bold admirer screams: "Peter! I love you! I'm having your egg!"
[Note: There is no proof that animal rights guru and activist, Peter Singer, sleeps with chickens -- no matter what claims those dirty little birds make to the contrary!]
The crowd rants and chants as an 'activist' group known as the "Black Roosters" hands out literature on the evils of capitalism and the fast food industry. A single long combed, dirty chicken in tattered pants and a rotten Hawaiian tee shirt screams to any who will listen about the terrible years he spent in a prison camp somewhere deep in the jungles of Kentucky. Much to the dismay of his less paranoid avians he swears up and down this mysterious prison exists and is presided over by an evil and brutal man known only to the inmates as "The Colonel".
And then there's one of PETA's more recent press releases featuring a cute little pooch with a hook in it's mouth. The caption reads:
"If you wouldn't do this to a dog why would you do it to a fish?"
Well, the first reason that comes to mind is that it wouldn't be any fun. Part of the great thrill of fishing is surprise. You can't see the fish, you're not sure if they're even down there and if they are you have to figure out what they're biting on. Moreover, they're wild and your dog isn't. Nope, catching 'Spot' on a rubber jig with a biscuit attached is like shooting ducks in a barrel -- it just isn't sporting. On the other hand catching an eight pound Rainbow on a number ten, green Doc Sprately requires time, patience, stealth and skill.
I suspect though, the important question really isn't why you catch fish on hooks and not dogs but rather why one type of animal is acceptable as a food source and one isn't. Good question really. I'd guess it has something to do with culture or tradition. In fact, I see no good reason why Spot wouldn't make a perfectly fine meal if need be. But the truth is most of us view our pets as companions who are not suitable for consumption simply because we're used to having them as valued members of our household and not as part of the menu. On the other hand if the lights went out and the food supplies got short.....
Well. You get the point.
Anyway, the article concludes with: "Imagine using worms and flies to catch ... eagles and ospreys and hauling them around on 50 feet of line while they tried to get away. Then when you landed them, you'd release them. No one would tolerate that sort of thing with birds. But we will for fish because they're underwater and out of sight."
Hmmm. Interesting line of reasoning. Perhaps it never occurred to PETA or "Jack Turner, former angler" -- the gentlemen who supposedly penned this little gem -- the reason we don't launch worms into the air in pursuit of ospreys is because of a little thing called gravity? Mind you in a world where animals have rights maybe worms can fly too, eh?
Or is PETA's primary gripe with the idea that we catch fish just for fun as evidenced by the fact we often release our catch back into the murky depths from which they came? Well, hey -- if this is the case then I say we do away with catch and release altogether. By all means -- kill and eat what you catch and spare those poor little fish any further suffering.
See. I'm not unreasonable. I can compromise.
Of course none of this is really relevant anyway since PETA has so far failed to demonstrate in any way shape or form that animals have human rights. The reason being of course that 'rights' are a concept grounded firmly in the roots of reality. They are the result of a special quality that only man has so far displayed -- sapience. Animals exist in nature as a food source -- both for themselves and for us. From a completely natural standpoint they are nothing more than the main course. Any other roles they may take on are of our creation -- not theirs. And this may be the most important point of all. If you think animals should be treated like people then go ahead and live your little fantasy. But do me a favor: leave the rest of us alone to live in the real world.
Indeed, until a chicken wanders up and asks me for the time or directions to Yellowknife I'm afraid he'll have but one place in my world -- on my dinner plate. Until then we'll leave the food stamps for the humans (but not for long I hope) and leave starving chickens to "The Colonel". Now there's a finger lick'n good idea.
Scott Carpenter is a freelance writer and syndicated columnist with Le Quebecois Libre.
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