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Tuesday, April 1, 2003

The loons at PETA have a cow
Attack on TV ad, 'chicken Holocaust' the latest displays of fanaticism


The former writer for President Reagan lives in Carmel

The only thing that bothers me about the "Happy Cows" TV commercials that run throughout California is that the cows seem happier than I am and their lives look a lot more interesting.

But the fanatical People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has more serious problems with the humorous ads that show cows lolling around in lush pastures and engaging in snappy patter. In a lawsuit aimed at forcing the campaign off the air for false advertising, a cheesed-off PETA contended that most California dairy cows live in filthy, grassless fields and are forced to give too much milk.

Countering their charges, California Milk Advisory Board spokeswoman Nancy Fletcher said it's in the best interest of dairy farmers to create pleasant conditions for their herds. "The better our farmers care for their cows, the more productive they are," she said. In proof that sanity can sometimes prevail even in Northern California, a San Francisco-based Superior Court judge last week threw out the PETA suit.

That's good news for Happy Cows fans and for California dairy farmers, who see our state closing in on the title of leading U.S. cheese producer. In 2001, the last year for which statistics are available, California farmers produced 1.6 billion pounds of cheese. Take that, Wisconsin.

The bad news for sane society is that PETA has become so off the wall in its radicalism, its tactics now border on psychological terrorism. This is a group that has said that even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS it would oppose it, that arson, property destruction and theft are acceptable when used for the animal cause, that if the death of one rat cured all disease it would be wrong and that humans are the biggest blight on Earth, among other debased pronouncements. PETA is to reasonable discourse what al-Qaida is to statesmanlike diplomacy.

These are also the people who tried to encourage college students to drink beer in place of milk, finally backing down in the wake of outrage from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Any doubts that PETA could not sink lower evaporated in March when it devised a campaign comparing the killing of chickens with the murder of Jews in Nazi concentration camps. One photo, posted on PETA's Web site and included in a touring display, shows emaciated Jewish men on bunks in a death camp juxtaposed with a picture of chickens in cages. Others in the campaign PETA calls "The Holocaust on your plate" compare livestock and Jews.

Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel was angered to find himself in one of the photos used in the campaign. He and his father were sent to Buchenwald, where Wiesel's father died before the camp was liberated in 1945. Viewing pictures at a PETA display in Thousand Oaks, the now 74-year old Wiesel confirmed he was the boy shown in one of them.

The campaign's creator, Matt Prescott, said that to PETA's knowledge the photos used do not depict any other living Holocaust survivors. He added that any thought of apologizing to Wiesel "hasn't come up within the organization." Apparently, being idiotic means never having to say you're sorry.

I hope this demonstration that even extremism can be taken to extremes convinces some PETA supporters that such ugliness is unworthy of their continued financial involvement. And it would be refreshing to see mainstream vegetarians, if that's not an oxymoron, speak out against the ever-escalating outrages of a group that, even in today's degraded culture, gives new meaning to the word vile.

For anyone with even one foot in reality, PETA's poisoned rhetoric is impossible to swallow.

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