I PETA the Fool

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I’m not one to criticize or pass judgment, but if there’s a bigger group of morons than the folks at PETA, I’ll eat my hat (which is made of trumpeter swan, by the way).

PETA is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the group’s latest victory in the war against common sense is that Disneyland employees will no longer shoot fake bullets at the fake hippos on the Jungle Cruise ride. This was long overdue, as the fake animals have been tormented by fake bullets shot from fake guns by fake river guides for decades. It took a fake hippo nearly fake dying from a fake bullet wound before Disney finally did the sensible thing and began shooting PETA members instead.

I’m kidding on the last part, but the no-more-shooting decision is true. Disney allegedly made the decision on its own, but People for the Ethical Treatment of Fake Animals has been suggesting it for a while. Presented with the fact that Disney and PETA should both cheer up a little and enjoy life for heaven’s sake, PETA spokeswoman Debbie Leahy was quoted in Monday’s Los Angeles Times as saying:

“If it was a fantasy baby or fantasy toddler, I don’t think somebody would find it funny. Clearly, we should not be accepting it for a hippo. It’s not humorous. It’s really a form of animal cruelty.”

I don’t even know where to begin here. First of all, I wouldn’t say unequivocally that pretending to shoot a “fantasy baby” would NEVER be funny. Is the baby dressed as a clown, perhaps? Are the bullets made out of tickles?

As for being “animal cruelty”: Even if it were a real hippo, it wouldn’t be cruel to fire blanks at it. And if it were charging your boat, I wouldn’t be opposed to firing real bullets, particularly if the hippo appeared to be rabid or shifty-eyed.

I do agree with one statement, though: “It’s not humorous.” This is true. Have you been on the Jungle Cruise? NOT FUNNY.

But I disagree strenuously with the idea that because it (generally) is not OK to shoot a baby human, it’s also not OK to shoot a hippo. What happens over at PETA headquarters that makes the members so bereft of self-esteem that they truly consider themselves no better than hippos? Do they have demotivational speakers come in to talk them down off their high-horses (I’m sorry, high-humans)? I mean, I’m no great piece of work, but I’m better than a hippo. Even your finest hippo, the very champion of the hippo race, is no match for me and my opposable thumbs and my mastery of the microwave oven.

PETA was also in the news this week for its proposed billboard on the East Coast, which said: “Would you give your right arm to know why sharks attack? Could it be revenge?” That’s right, all those shark attacks have been an act of revenge! The sharks have organized themselves and are systematically hunting down anyone who has ever wronged them. Also, they are eating innocent byswimmers — but hey, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette, right?

So PETA’s full of crazy people; we all know that. What I have the least patience for, though, is its attack on Wendy’s restaurants, as outlined at www.wickedwendys.com.

PETA’s beef (pardon me!) with Wendy’s is that it uses chickens and cows that have been genetically modified, kept in inhumane enclosures and belittled with insults and personal attacks, including wedgies, at which point Dave Thomas himself goes out there on a moonlit night, kills every single animal with his bare hands, drinks their blood, and then uses his folksy charm to persuade people to eat them.

All of this may be true, but it misses the point: Wendy’s food is delicious. If PETA would drag its pasty, tofu-weakened body down to Wendy’s just once and have a Monterey Jack Chicken Sandwich, PETA would change its mind in a hurry. Of course, they’ll have to lay off the fries, or else they’ll anger the People for the Ethical Treatment of Potatoes.

PETA is one of those topics where you wonder how I managed to write a humor column for four years without making fun of it already. It had always been in the back of my mind, but when the Disneyland thing and the shark billboard occurred the same week, I was roused to action. A visit to PETA's Web site (peta.org) led me to the Wendy's attack, which is truly tasteless, pardon the pun. The PETA folks are very dogmatic, to say the least. This column practically wrote itself.

For the record, I think one particular sentence in the column is funnier when altered slightly: "I mean, I'm no great piece of work, but I'm better than a damn hippo." I could have said it in the paper, but I decided to save myself the headaches that would have ensued.

Some 4 1/2 years after it was originally published, this column prompted an angry letter. She says she read all my PETA columns, but I'm including it here because of her reference to eating my hat, which suggests it was this column in particular that irked her.


Dear "D. Snider" if thats what you call yourself. [Um, no, I don't.]
After thoroughly reading your aritcles on PETA I concluded that you are an idiot. [Really? Most people figure it out a lot sooner.]You also seem incapable of writing a humour column, and would recommend that you don't call it that because really you are a disgrace to the world of writers. In my small amount of years upon this planet I have achieved a greater intellectual standard than you could ever hope to achieve throughout your hopefully short life. I really should eat that hat of yours [You should, or I should? Who's eating the hat here?] not just because you are wrong but because I hope it sticks in your throat and chokes you to death. Your "writing" [Like it or not, it WAS writing, so the sarcastic quotation marks don't make any sense] makes you sound like an old fat man who has no actual clue as to what is really happening and uses information he scrounges off the internet to write his "articles". [Which is odd, because all the information in my PETA columns comes directly from the PETA Web site. Also, again, it was an article whether you like it or not, so lay off the sarcastic quote marks.] Feel free to email me if you ever do come up with a decent argument against PETA. They do so much good for animal welfare worldwide and deserve to be congratulated not insulted. However I do not agree with some of their principles, for instance I am not a vegetarian but you would not find a piece of battery chicken on my plate. [Battery chicken? Is that a chicken made from batteries? Or is it battery-powered chicken?] If you feel happy eating a chicken that could easily have been scalded alive then you are more inhumane then i thought possible. I suppose with these views you also find hunting acceptable. [And I suppose with your spelling and grammar errors, you are retarded. See? Sometimes supposing things isn't logical!] If this is true I quite agree with you! I would be perfectly happy to ride out and hound you until you can run no more before skinning you alive. [You want me to choke to death on a hat and/or to be pursued and skinned alive. and I'm the inhumane one?] If this was legal I would not hesitate to do the honours.
Please do email me I would be happy to hear with any disagreements you have with my opinion.
Oh and please take some lessons in writing, because it really is atrocious

Four minutes later, she sent this addendum:

I also suggest you use your articles as bog roll because that is all they are useful for

It took her four minutes to come up with that. "Bog roll" is British slang for toilet paper, by the way. How I would use my Internet-only columns as toilet paper, she did not explain. Instead, I shall continue to use toilet paper made from the skins of baby seals.

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