For proof, just check out the far right and far left wings of our two major political parties. In one corner, you've got a consortium of tree hugging, beret wearing, flag burning, gay rights supporting, fetus killing socialists who believe everyone should get a free lunch. In the other corner, you've got a cabal of Sansabelt wearing, WWJD preaching, gay bashing, flag waving, baby saving conservatives who believe the only folks who deserve a free lunch are millionaires come tax time.
This division is also found in how these extremists approach the treatment of animals. On the left hand of the ledger, you've got People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recently renewing its battle to outlaw commercial and sport fishing. On the right, you've got a game hunting preserve down in Texas called live-shot.com offering up a way to kill real live critters by remote control via the Internet.
First, we'll start with PETA, the group that puts the wrong in animal rights. PETA officials have been trying to ban fishing seemingly since before Jesus fed the masses with two holy mackerels and a loaf of bread.
This group of loony leftists is trying to convince the American public through something called the Fish Empathy Project that fish are the cognitive equal of dogs and cats. To this I say, have you ever tried to pet an electric eel or cuddle with a tiger shark? Can goldfish fetch your paper? When you look into the cold black eye of a sole, do you detect a soul?
Fish have about as much in common with Fido or Tabby as Ben Afleck does with Tom Hanks, a real actor.
PETA also claims, despite numerous scientific studies to the contrary, that fish feel pain. That great white whale Bill Clinton claimed he felt my pain too, so I'm definitely not falling for that one again.
Bruce Friedrich, PETA's director of vegan outreach (and no ... I'm not making that title up) says, "No one would ever put a hook through a dog's or cat's mouth. Once people start to understand that fish, although they come in different packaging, are just as intelligent, they'll stop eating them."
Uh, no, Bruce. If you found a flounder that graduated summa cum laude from Princeton, speaks four languages fluently and can actually explain to me the popularity of rap music, I'd still bread him, fry him up and dip his overeducated butt in cocktail sauce because a fish will always be a fish, but a dog or cat is a companion (except in some parts of Asia, where it's the main course.)
Plus, there's no getting beyond the cuteness factor. A kitten is "aw, shucks" cute. A dogfish is "oooh, yuck" not-so cute.
The really screwy part of all this is that PETA is trying to talk folks into saying "sorry, Charlie" to tuna steaks when groups like the American Heart Association emphasize that fish are part of a healthy, balanced diet. Who are you going to listen to? A thoracic surgeon with years of medical school under his stethoscope who says fish are heart healthy food, or some sociology major dropout from the University of Vermont who says we shouldn't eat sturgeon because it has "feelings."
With all my depth and breadth of feeling, I say pass the Pisces and don't be stingy with the tartar sauce.
At the other end of the animal rights spectrum is the Texas outfit live-shot.com, which is in the process of setting it up so you can surf its Web site, pick out one of four species of animal roaming on their range via a Web cam, sight the creature in on a computerized scope linked with a genuine lead-spitting rifle, pull a virtual trigger from the comfort of your own desktop, and send actual bullets flying through the Texas haze and into the flesh of your trophy. After you've dropped your quarry, the ranch's staff cleans, guts and carves up your game, either shipping the meat to you for your own personal consumption or donating it to the Hunters for the Hungry program. So don't think of yourself as a cretin with the morals and sporting ethics of a gila monster ... By donating that meat, you're instantly transformed from big-time jerk into big-time philanthropist. Sorry folks, I gave at the slaughter house.
For this nightmarish service, which live-shot.com explains is a boon for disabled or handicapped hunters, you'll be charged $150, plus a $60 fee to process the meat. And talk about variety, you get to choose from Blackjack antelope, wild pig, Barbary sheep and just plain sheep. The ones who should be sheepish are the unscrupulous profiteers offering this service. Hunters are already given a bad enough name by slobs who litter the landscape with empty Budweiser cans and poachers who litter the landscape with illegally harvested game.
Actually, maybe the folks at live-shot.com aren't going far enough. Maybe they could contract with the Army or Marines and set up a few Web cams in Fallujah. I can hear the pitch now: "Step right up folks and kill an insurgent without leaving the safety of your home! Line up an Arab in your sights and you're just a click away from sending him on a one-way ticket to 72 virgins. Thrill to the sight of a murderous Muslim extremist dropping in real time thanks to your sharp shooting. Don't think of it as murder ... Think of it as your little contribution to the war on terror. And the best part? No messy clean-up afterward. And for an extra $60, we'll send you the actual head scarf your terminated terrorist was wearing when he embraced Allah, suitable for mounting right next to that 10-point buck in your den!"
Wake me when the weakfish inherit the Earth.
Tim Wilkins can be reached at 739-4322, Ext. 122, or by e-mail at email@example.com