After so many years of tracking, documenting and challenging the endless stunts and protests conducted by the hardcore animal activist community, it’s tempting to start thinking you’ve seen it all.
Dispel that thought, because a recent incident that happened in Colorado is unlike any other previous one — not because it’s so outrageous, but because it’s just weird.
Here’s what happened:
A high school student named Ateret Goldman, who apparently is a veteran protestor at age 15, decided to make a statement about the usual issues activists always conflate, namely, the fact the raising livestock constitutes abuse, and eating meat abets such criminal activity.
But young Ms. Goldman took a different tack. According to a report in the Boulder-based Daily Camera, she purchased $10.80 worth of white carnations, walked into the Ideal Market grocery store in Boulder, and sprinkled the flowers inside the meat case.
“My actions are done out of the spirit of compassion and justice,” Goldman, who’s a student at the local New Vista High School, told the newspaper. “If we live in a world where those actions are seen as criminal, I’m willing to take part in those with pride and pay the consequences.”
Pretty articulate for a young person, don’t you think?
By the way, the names of juveniles are not normally published in reporting on potential criminal cases, but the story in the Daily Camera noted that the activist group Direct Action Everywhere, of which Goldman is apparently a member, already publicized her name.
According to the story, Goldman turned herself in last Friday after school and spent three hours in the Boulder County Jail on suspicion of felony criminal mischief and misdemeanor tampering.
Her alleged accomplice in the stunt, a 23-year-old named Maximilan Knight, now faces numerous charges, according to the story, including contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He also was booked and released from jail.
Now for the strange part, and the ironic twist to this story.
Death by Flower
First of all, guess who the corporate owner of Ideal Market is? None other than the self-described “leader” in promoting animal compassion and humane handling. It is Whole Foods, the multi-billion dollar supermarket chain that wants its customers to believe that they’re so strict about (allegedly) monitoring their suppliers that all of their animal foods can be bought with a clear conscience.
You have to love the fact that a dedicated animal activist chose a Whole Foods property to stage her protest against the very industry its corporate owner pretends to be better than.
Now for the weird part.
As far as all the news stories have reported — and surveillance camera footage has confirmed — Goldman and Knight literally walked past the meat aisle sprinkling shredded carnations onto the product on display.
Immediately afterward, a spokesperson for Whole Foods claimed that about $1,100 of meat was ruined and had to be thrown away.
This was a typical meat case, with packaged ground beef, pork chops and chicken breasts sitting there waiting for shoppers to paw through the packages looking for the best deal. The only difference was the implied well-being that the animals enjoyed prior to being packaged, and the price tags on the products, which would provide the majority of Americans who never set foot in a Whole Foods store with some serious sticker shock.
I guess in an abundance of caution, store management emptied the meat case and disposed of every package “contaminated” by a flower petal.
This raises the obvious question: If a flower can contaminate the product inside a package of meat or poultry, why is it that dozens — hundreds — of shoppers manhandling those same packages over and over again, searching for just the right size and price point, cause no problems whatsoever?
You know how experts always insist that “We will never negotiate with terrorists”? That’s because once you break that rule, once you cave in and meet whatever demands they’ve made, you’ve opened the door to future bad actors to follow the exact same playbook.
I’m not suggesting that a 15-year old veggie activist is a terrorist; only that by trashing the entire meat case, Whole Foods just sent a message to the entire activist community: For less than $11, you can destroy an entire cold case of animal flesh in a matter of seconds.
If I were inclined to make symbolic statements against an industry and a product I despised, I’d by online at Flowers.com like, yesterday.
And you know what?
If incidents similar to this stunt do start occurring at Whole Foods stores around the country, it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of hypocrites.
The opinions in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and commentator.