Tuesday, October 11, 2005

PETA strikes again

There has been a crime committed. A heinous act of deliberate violence, that resulted in the death of a living creature.

This on its own is disturbing, but it gets worse, much worse. The crime was committed by students, and even worse yet, on school property, during school hours, in full view of not only students but teachers and faculty.

What makes this even more disgusting, even more appalling, is that the students who could have stopped, instead cheered. They applauded and laughed.

It’s hard to describe the brutality. In fact PETA received complaints from several horrified students, and immediately intervened. Their actions were too late to bring back the dead, but they may prevent it from happening again in the future.

In their letter to the principle PETA said:

“If the reports we received are accurate, this cruel spectacle has no place in Federal Way public schools. Given the proliferation of violence in the schools, it is imperative that we teach compassion for all living beings rather than publicly encouraging cruelty to animals,"

They went on to point out that:

“…the incident may have been in violation of Washington’s cruelty statute, which tates that a person is guilty of cruelty to animals when "he or she … inflicts substantial pain on … or … kills an animal by a means causing undue suffering …."

So we have an act of deliberate brutality, and as yet no charges have been filed. What manner of miscarriage of justice is this? Has our culture really sunk so low?

Are Goldfish no longer safe?

Yes, Goldfish. Two students did this on a bet, that if one of them got elected a class officer, they would swallow Goldfish at an assembly. He did and they did.

I am gonna be honest, and say “so what?” Look, I understand what PETA represents, but honestly this just seems silly.

If PETA wants to campaign against animal cruelty, that’s fine. I even support them in principle on two issues. First I don’t have a need for fur, since there are enough synthetic alternatives. And I wont order or eat veal if I can help it. I see no use for killing calves for food, I draw the line there. Those are just my opinions.

I also have respect for my friends who are Vegans. I prefer a Big Mac myself, but they have the right to chose their own diet.

But goldfish? I mean these kids likely heard about it from parents or saw it in movies. I remember some Young Life leaders doing this at a fund raising carnival. Swallowing goldfish is practically an American tradition. OK., I will grant that in a school assembly may have been ill advised. But to equate this to Washington’s cruelty law? The representative I heard on the radio didn’t quite come out and say fishing should be criminalized, but she came close. In fact there is a webpage PETA runs called http://www.fishinghurts.com/ which nicely promotes it.

What bothers me is how often political groups intrude in our schools (and lives), often representing a minority faction. Not that I believe anyone’s rights are open to abuse, but in a democratic environment, where majority rules, the minority is often denied something, and suing is not always a viable option.

This begs the question:

Are we teaching them to protect their rights or to demand excess rights? Are we creating rights out of whole cloth? I personally think that sometimes that is exactly what we are doing.

It makes me wonder though. One of the biggest rights based groups is the ACLU, and they often support the oppressed, often when a minority is oppressed. One of their favorites is freedom of expression as a subset of freedom of speech. One aspect of that is living art or performance art.

Could their acts have been performance art, or freedom of expression? Would the ACLU come to their defense? Hmmm.

So if I decided to make a public statement by swallowing some goldfish on the capital steps- heck I’ll bring some friend and have goldfish swallowing event, to protest…errr…well to protest something. Would the ACLU come to my defense, and would PETA try to suppress me?

It would almost be worth it to see these two titans battle it out, but it wouldn’t happen. The ACLU has already gone to court to defend PETA

So, nevermind. I'll just chow down my Big Mac instead.