A recent story illustrates the point. Seems that some fish were killed in a traffic accident in Irvine, Calif., according to a story in the Orange County Register newspaper, and PETA wants a memorial erected to honor their deaths.
You read that right. A PETA supporter living in Irvine requested that the city install a sign to memorialize the hundreds of fish being taken to the Irvine Ranch Market that were killed last month when a tractor-trailer truck carrying 1,600 pounds of saltwater bass and several tanks of pure oxygen crashed into two other vehicles. (The oxygen was used to keep the fish alive as they were being taken to market).
In her letter, Dina Kourda, writing on behalf of PETA, asked the city’s street maintenance superintendent to place the sign at the site of the crash at the corner of Walnut and Yale Aves in Irvine. “Although such signs are traditionally reserved for human fatalities,” the letter stated, “I hope you’ll make an exception because of the enormous suffering involved in this case.”
The proposed sign would read: “In memory of hundreds of fish who suffered and died at this spot.”
According to Kourda’s letter, the idea was to remind truck drivers of their responsibility to the animals who are “hauled to their deaths every day.”
The letter also explained that fish are people, too.
“Research tells us that fish use tools, tell time, sing, and have impressive long-term memories and complex social structures,” Kourda’s letter read. “Yet fish used for food are routinely crushed, impaled, cut open, and gutted—all while still conscious.”
I guess the millions of mice, moles, gophers and other rodents routinely “crushed, impaled and cut open” by tractors and plows preparing farm fields for planting the soybeans and cereal grains on which we’re supposed to subsist don’t count—at least not as much as singing, tool-making, time-telling fish apparently do.
Of course, PETA knows that Irvine or any other city’s not about to spend money on a sign memorializing some sea bass that got spilled onto the highway. Their motive is “raising awareness.”
Such stunts help do exactly that: Make people aware of how utterly ridiculous their take on the animal kingdom really is.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.