- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 8, 2001

Noble: The National Football League (NFL), for maintaining a level playing field despite all kinds of officious pressure.
With the start of a new season, the NFL's referees decided to make old labor demands. They wanted more money, more benefits, and possibly more attractive outfits than the zebra-stripes that they are seasonally stuck with. Even when the league offered them a few of the points they demanded, the referees held out for a run-up of benefits.
Unfortunately, going long on incentives cost the referees the ball game, if not the entire season. The NFL sent them to the showers, and called in replacements from other leagues. The season will begin this week with substitutes on the field, a development which has brought hope into the heart of every hopeless fan of the moribund Redskins.
The replacements will be good for the league in other ways. Drunken fans will certainly enjoy a greater degree of certitude. After all, that "blind" referee may actually have missed the call. Unhappy coaches will have a much stronger case when scape-goating referees for lost ballgames, and if owners become unhappy with the performance of the replacements, they will presumably be able to find official replacement-replacements.
Some complain that replacement referees pose a safety threat to the players on the field. Yet those players pose a far greater threat to the populace when they step off the field. Ask anyone concerned with Ray Lewis' misdemeanor performance in a post-Super Bowl brawl that left two people dead two years ago. In fact, the league is so concerned about post-game antics that it has established mandatory seminars on the subject for rookies, and sent its own security officials to meet with each team. At least the replacement referees won't need that.

Knaves: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), for tearing into a campaign of such bad taste that eventually even they couldn't stomach it.
PETA loves sharks. So much so that they would offer a child's right arm to sate the incessant appetites of the beasts just so long as he or she isn't a member of their organization, presumably. Jessie Arbogast clearly wasn't, which is perhaps why PETA planned to put up a billboard in Pensacola Fla. asking, "Would you give your right arm to know why sharks attack? Could it be revenge?"
PETA, you see, is upset about sharks, and fish in general, being, "impaled, thrown, crushed, or mutilated while alive…" Perhaps PETA forgot that this is exactly what sharks are doing to the humans (like Jessie Arbogast) that they snack on.
PETA finally gave the hook to its astonishing campaign, but not without a throwing out a self-righteous line that should leave everyone reeling. In a press release, PETA spokesman Dan Shannon excused the brutal actions of the sharks before complaining, "But right now, people would just shoot the messenger without hearing the message."
Considering the murderous message PETA planned on posting, perhaps they should.


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