- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 23, 2003

Pity the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Things haven't gone very well of late and poor Ingrid Newkirk, PETA's president, is quickly becoming a candidate for the Guinness Book of World Records because she finds more ways to stick a foot in her mouth than anybody else possibly could.
Because of a recent outlandish request and certain statements regarding a donkey that was used by Palestinian terrorists in hopes of blowing up innocent people, Newkirk really owes the people of Israel an apology.
The way The Washington Post reported it, late last month members of a violent branch of Yasser Arafat's Fatah Party put a donkey alongside a road between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion. The donkey carried saddlebags filled with deadly explosives and when an Israeli bus passed, the explosives were detonated with a cell phone signal. Nobody on the bus died, but you can imagine what happened to the little jackass.
That's what ticked off Newkirk, who contacted Arafat and sort of asked him to tell his terrorists not to use donkeys when it comes to blowing up humans.
Mike Bolton, outdoors editor of the Birmingham (Ala.) News, said "PETA animal rights wackos contacted headquarters to demand action," which prompted Newkirk to fire off a letter to Arafat to ask him to please consider how cruel it is to turn a donkey into a walking bomb.
"Stop and think about that for a second," wrote Bolton. "Since 2000, 729 Israelis have died in suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks, the Israeli embassy says. [But] it took a dead donkey for some Americans to become concerned enough to take action."
Bolton is right. Imagine, an American animal rights activist showing more concern over the death of a donkey than that of hundreds of human beings who are relentlessly and senselessly attacked by terrorists.
Wrote Bolton: "PETA members are more concerned over the death of a single ass. I suppose it is human nature to be more concerned about your own kind."
As if that weren't enough to give PETA an Excedrin headache, consider the setback it received when James D. Rose, a professor of zoology and physiology at the University of Wyoming, concluded after lengthy study that fish do not feel pain when hooked.
In recent years, PETA not only hoped to outlaw recreational hunting, it also began a campaign to stop sport fishing, basing most of its battle against more than 60 million North American anglers on the unfounded belief that fish feel pain, hence suffer cruelly. PETA never was able to separate a fish's ability to feel something touching it from an ability to recognize pain.
Said Rose: "Awareness of pain depends on functions of specific regions of the cerebral cortex that fish do not possess."
If you missed it, PETA, fish are not capable of feeling pain. And as far as Mr. Rose's views about fishing are concerned, he said he used to be enormously concerned with the welfare of fish, but given his findings he now simply hopes that people worry more about well-managed, clean waters. I guess he figures the fish will take care of themselves if the water is in fine shape.
What was PETA's response to the professor's findings? Rather than admit that it might have been wrong, PETA continues to view sport fishing as a barbaric practice which suits me just fine. If it means that PETA members will stay clear of our already crowded fishing waters, I'll be happy to play the barbarian.
Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.


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