- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 1, 2006

The Fourth of July is almost here and we all know what that means: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals hopes to gross us out about hot dogs.

July is National Hot Dog month, you see, a glorious month when the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council tells us about the history of the dog, shares new recipes and explains why Americans will chomp down 150 million dogs during the July 4 break alone.

That’s why the folks at PETA want to gross us out about dogs.

“Every third-grade boy knows what nasty things lurk in hot dogs, from ears to eyelids,” writes Paula Moore on PETA’s Web site. “A U.S. Department of Agriculture official confirmed that hot dogs contain skeletal muscles, along with parts of pork stomach, snout, intestines, spleens, edible fat, and, yes, lips.”

That sounds like a Harry Potter recipe. It also sounds mighty tasty, so long as it’s ground up, stuffed into a sausage casing, grilled to perfection, smattered with mustard and washed down with an ice-cold beer.

Ms. Moore next focuses on a Wall Street Journal investigation that details hot dog complaints consumers sent to the federal government.

“They found several unsavory surprises, including a three-inch rubber band, something described as a greenish blue glob, pieces of glass, and even screws and other metal objects.”

Hey, Paula, that may be true, but I’ll bet a CAT scan of Howard Dean’s brain would locate the same items, and I don’t hear PETA complaining about that.

Ms. Moore then tries to frighten us about additional risks of eating hot dogs: that dogs are frequently contaminated by listeria, a deadly bacteria that can cause everything from flu-like symptoms to death to the desire to watch Fear Factor reruns.

But she forgets to point out that vegetables, one of the few foods PETA allows us to eat, can also contain listeria, or that listeria can be easily killed in a dog by grilling it to perfection before you wash it down with an ice-cold beer.

No attack on the American hot dog would be complete without telling us how much fat and salt are in every one. Ms. Moore says that even chicken and turkey dogs are loaded with the stuff. But not only are we aware of the fat and salt in dogs, this is why we eat them. Fat and salt are tasty, especially when they’re washed down with an ice-cold beer.

Ms. Moore goes on to call attention to the way animals are treated at some farms. She cites examples of pigs forced to live in unpleasant circumstances and of some of the cruel means used to kill them before they are sent off to the butcher.

We need to do better in the way we treat farm animals. We should treat all God’s creatures with honor and respect. We should allow them to live their lives in relative comfort and dignity. Then we should eat them.

I agree with the wit who said that if God didn’t want us to eat animals, why did he make them taste so good? Is it not, in fact, our duty to eat them? Isn’t that the best way to honor our ancestors, who had to claw their way to the top of the food chain?

I can’t wait to chomp down some hot dogs this Fourth of July. I’ll fire up the grill and wait for the briquettes to get red hot. I’ll toss on the dogs and let them sizzle until the skin begins to char.

Then I’ll gently set them into a couple of bleach-processed buns. I’ll smatter them with mustard and lots of fresh onions. I’ll mist up for a moment, as I pay homage to the ancestors who made it all possible. Then I’ll wash my gastronomic blessing down with a couple of ice-cold beers.

And I’ll hope like heck there’s no listeria in the onions.

TOM PURCELL

Tom Purcell’s weekly political humor column runs in newspapers and Web sites across America. Visit him at www.TomPurcell.com or contact him at [email protected]

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