Story last updated at 1/21/2009 - 11:45 am
The following column originally appeared in the Pennisula Clarion.
To persuade people to stop catching and eating fish, PETA has embarked on its silliest crusade ever. In what this extremist animal-rights organization is calling the "cutest campaign ever to exist," they're asking us to think about fish not as fish, but as "sea kittens."
In a blog on PETA's Web site (Oct. 8, 2008), Christine Dor announced the launch of the euphemism, saying she was "thrilled" about it. She gushed, "When people realize how fascinating (and adorable) fish can be, they might think twice."
I certainly did. My first thought was, "How stupid do they think we are?" My second was, "How ridiculous can they get?"
PETA wasn't having much luck stopping people from catching and eating fish, so they decided to make fish cuter. The cartoonish fish on PETA's "Save the Sea Kittens!" Web page (www.peta.org/sea_kittens/) have eye lashes, a "must have" for animal cuteness. On the "Create Your Own Sea Kitten" Web page, you can tart up a trout with a princess dress, a tiara and lipstick. It's eyes even blink, the quintessence of cuteness.
According to PETA, "The easiest and most effective thing that you can do to help stop cruelty to fish and other animals is to stop eating them." I wonder if they know that the fish they're trying to save make a living mainly by eating other fish, alive.
In addition to wanting us to call fish "sea kittens," they want us to call fishing "sea-kitten hunting." They imagine that when we get the urge to go fishing, we'll be repelled by the thought of hooking kittens. Having imagined that, they imagine we'll substitute tofu for tuna and take up macram or ceramics. What imaginations they have!
PETA members and supporters - mostly young and impressionable - put together a 300-square-foot "Fish Empathy Quilt." Some quilt quotes: "Let us live in peace." "Fish have feelings too." "Fish are friends, not food." This last is from the 2003 animated movie "Finding Nemo." The full quote, a recitation by a shark named "Bruce," is, "I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food." Yeah, right.
"Angler" is a dirty word to PETA. These zealots intend to help us anglers believe that fish are sentient beings, and that fish have the same rights as humans. If we swallow that, they hope we'll rise to the idea that fish should never be caught for sport or eaten, and that all humans should become vegans, and that the shark shall lie down with the clownfish.
Les Palmer lives in Sterling.