Bovine badinage

Posted: May 25, 2002 12:00 AM
If the Left hadn't exclusively reserved the term "extremist" for pro-life Christian conservatives, they'd understand that it more accurately describes any number of fringe groups they identify with, such as animal rights activists. When you read newspaper stories about recent outlandish activities by this "movement" you simply don't see the term "extremist." But no word could be more fitting, except maybe "screwball." Just consider the following items, and tell me with a straight face that in a saner era, these people wouldn't be considered full-fledged wackos. -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the ACLU have sued the District of Columbia Arts Commission for discrimination because it rejected a sculpture of a weeping and shackled baby elephant wearing a circus sign. They're mad because the commission accepted another circus elephant sculpture that didn't have the proper political slant. (The accepted sculpture showed a happy elephant, God forbid.) Jane Garrison, PETA's -- get this -- "elephant specialist," trumpeted, "Life is no party for animals forced to perform in circuses. If elephants' cries for justice can't be heard in Washington, maybe the elephant should no longer be used to symbolize democracy." -- The Rhode Island legislature is considering a bill that would forbid live performances or displays of lions, elephants, tigers and bears in that state. Lions, tigers and bears, oh my! -- Some lawyers believe that animals ought to be able to sue in their own right. Cass Sunstein, a University of Chicago law professor, favors the appointment of legal guardians for animals. "African-Americans and women and handicapped people and homosexuals -- they're all able to talk," she said. "That made all the difference. If animals could speak, the law would look a lot different." I guess Ms. Sunstein is unfamiliar with Mr. Ed. -- Activists are urging the Eugene, Ore., City Council to amend its city ordinances to recognize that people don't "own" animals, but are their "guardians." One psychology professor advocating the amendment says it will encourage people to change the way they think about animals -- as beings instead of property. Yes, I suppose irate Republican animal guardians would be much less likely than Republican animal owners to kick their dogs when they got home from work. And that‘s a good thing. -- PETA is demanding that an Austin, Minn., high school stop using the nickname "Packers" (short for "meatpackers") because it is "offensive." The callous school remains defiant despite the hurt feelings of all animals whose family members have been executed at slaughterhouses. -- The German Bundestag voted to add "and animals" to a law that requires the government to respect and protect the dignity of human beings. The bill is mainly aimed at restricting the use of animals in scientific experiments. (Note: The vast left-wing conspiracy -- as distinguished from its feeble and fictitious counterpart on the right -- is an international affair.) -- The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) in New Zealand contaminated shampoo bottles with ammonia and hydrogen peroxide and snuck them in supermarkets around the country to bring attention to their claim that Procter & Gamble mistreats animals during its product testing. ALF said the action was dedicated to Barry Horne, a British vivisectionist serving an 18-year jail sentence for a series of arson attacks, who died during a hunger strike in November. Oh, that's understandable then. -- PETA was outraged with a Connellsville, Pa., high school's plan to exploit a cow to raise money for its prom. In the scheme, the school lawn was marked off in thousands of squares and each of them was "sold" for $10. Then a cow was led onto the lawn to defecate on a square. The "owner" of the lucky square would win $10,000, and the balance would fund the prom. PETA's apparent objection was that the cow was not consulted in advance. One of its "cruelty caseworkers" mooed that PETA is opposed to any activity using animals for entertainment. "Specifically, it's very demeaning to the animal." After reading about this, I tried to reach the cow for comment, but its guardian thought that additional publicity would just further erode its self-esteem. -- Spokesmen for the European Breast Conference said that women breast cancer patients will suffer and die unnecessarily because of delays caused by animal rights protesters. "Without animal research we wouldn't make many of our most important discoveries about breast cancer, but this wave of protest has cowed doctors and made everything more expensive," said Michael Baum, Emeritus Professor of Surgery at University College London. I rest my case.