Tuesday, June 09, 2009

PETA Peeved by Pike Place's Piscatorial Projectiles

PIke Place Market in Seattle is a cool place. I visited it briefly when I was there with the college groups back in '06, although, being a Sunday and near closing time, I missed out on two big things: Discovering that the original Starbucks was located inside, and getting to see the famous fishmongers throwing fish.

The fish-throwing, needless to say, is a popular event for tourists and conventioneers, and one of the conventions that was scheduled to view a demonstration was the American Veterinary Medical Association, whose event takes place next month. But notice that I said was scheduled to view a demonstration. Why the past tense? Well, PETA got mad:
Ron DeHaven, chief executive of the American Veterinary Medical Association, based in Schaumburg, Ill., says his organization thought having one of Seattle's top tourist attractions - the fish-throwers at the Pike Place Fish Market - come to the event would be a great "team-building experience."

But after PETA raised concerns about the ethics of using dead fish as props at a veterinary event, DeHaven said the association would explore other options.
Those other options include using rubber fish instead of real, live real, dead ones.

So what's PETA steamed (or poached, fried, or boiled) about? Read on:
In a letter sent to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), PETA says fish are intelligent, sensitive animals. PETA writes: "You should know that people who care about animals are appalled that a veterinary organization, whose purpose is to represent the interests of those whose jobs involve protecting the well-being of animals, would promote an event in which animals are treated so disrespectfully and are handled as if they were toys."

PETA says that according to studies, fish not only feel pain, but they learn tasks, have long-term memories and show affection.
Like a lot of activist groups, PETA probably started out meaning well, but many of its statements, along with the actions of more than a few of its members, are so over-the-top that it crossed the border into wacko territory a long time ago. It appears that if PETA had its way, nobody would eat any animal products whatsoever or own any pets. (Never mind that a lot more animals' lives would end badly if they were allowed to propagate without limits or encroach upon human civilization even more than they do.) What I would say to a PETA member if I met one would pretty much be this: If you want to be a vegan who wears hemp sandals all year and never has a pet, you're welcome to do that. But don't try to push your lifestyle on me, OK?

For their part, the fishmongers responded with a bit of sly humor:
A spokesperson for the Pike Place Fish Market told KING 5: "We're not doing a fish-throwing presentation. We're doing a presentation, and there might be fish thrown."
Well said, and keep up the good fight. And hopefully the AMVA--which probably does more to help animals in a single day than PETA has done in its entire existence--won't cave on this one.

(Hat tip: Dave Barry's Blog, where the host says, "OK, but they're dead fish.")

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