On that point: PETA has gone off the deep end

The environmental activist group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), has decided to put its efforts into a new campaign of renaming fish as “sea kittens.” No, unfortunately, I am not making this up.

The environmental activist group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), has decided to put its efforts into a new campaign of renaming fish as “sea kittens.” No, unfortunately, I am not making this up. While PETA, always a fringe group to say the least, has been involved in various questionable campaigns, this type of PR nonsense takes the cake. 

What’s sad is that ideologically PETA used to stand for good ideas: It did important investigations into the ethics of slaughterhouses; it questioned the necessity of meat consumption and the fur market, and was an advocate for creatures that had no voice.

Yet, renaming fish as sea kittens does nothing for the plight of the fish, and only treads on ridiculous and what a Jan. 26 article by The Economist called “dangerous” ground.

The justification PETA gives about its arbitrary renaming is laughable. On PETA’s Web site, it claims, “People don’t seem to like fish. They’re slithery and slimy, and they have eyes on either side of their pointy little heads—which is weird, to say the least. Plus, the small ones nibble at your feet when you’re swimming, and the big ones—well, the big ones will bite your face off if Jaws is anything to go by.”

It is plain to see PETA is trying to reach a young demographic by the way it explains its name reversal, yet using a young demographic isn’t the best way to change policy, or to ensure PETA’s goal to have the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stop promoting “sea kitten hunting” as viable.

PETA has chosen the name “sea kitten” because it provides positive connotation in the minds of young ones, but it added for good measure, “When your name can also be used as a verb that means driving a hook through your head, it’s time for a serious image makeover. And who could possibly want to put a hook through a sea kitten?”

Oh, how I weep for the future if children buy into this rubbish.

PETA assumes that by re-naming fish with a more user-friendly term it suddenly will produce results. People will suddenly stop fishing and consuming fish because they will now “think of the sea kittens.”

Is PETA really that dense? What does that say about PETA’s view of society, in that individuals are so enraptured with the animals that we deem as “cute” (i.e. kittens) that there is no way people, especially kids, could harm them? Let’s not allow PETA to prove us imbeciles.

Not only is this unsettling campaign suppose to tug at the heart strings of children, it is also suppose to scare them into not eating fish. Part of the campaign revolves around “bedtime stories” of various “sea kittens” with one story emphasizing the dangers of eating precious “sea kittens.”

“Already litter-trained at two months old, Tony went on to double-major in neuroscience and environmental studies at Clamford University, eventually graduating with honors. When Tony is caught and fed to a precocious young child who, having eaten one mercury-filled sea kitten too many, falls to the bottom of the class, the irony is not lost on him.”

This is blatant propaganda of the worst kind: It goes against scientifically backed facts. 

Yes, there is a slight chance of mercury poisoning with eating fish. According to a 2006 article in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, “In January 2001, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a commercial fish consumption advisory that warned of the health hazards from mercury and urged at-risk individuals to limit fish consumption.”

Those who were seen as at-risk were young children, nursing mothers and pregnant women.

Yet, this is only half the picture. What PETA fails to add, because it would go against everything it is trying to accomplish, is the positive health effects fish consumption can produce.

The FDA has done various experiments on the benefits of consuming fish, especially fish as an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. From one of its published research overviews, the FDA stated, “The experts noted that essential fatty acids are especially important for normal fetal and infant growth and development, especially for brain development and visual acuity.”

Also, the number of mercury poisonings a year due to fish consumption are relatively low compared to the vast number of people getting some of their essential nutrients from eating fish. PETA gives no statistics or analysis to back up any of its “stories.”

The Economist believes fish is an important part of a child’s diet, saying, “The case for promoting fish to children is clear; this campaign is wrong. Even by PETA’s own standards it is wrong. Humans are animals, too. We should no more insist that a tiger be fed tofu than we should tell a child not to eat fish.” I have to agree in this case.

Let’s call a spade a spade and not allow PETA to get away with its masquerading shenanigans. Call the organization out on its hypocrisy. Write a letter to PETA explaining its ineptitude to grasp the fundamentals of animal advocacy: using facts, not strategic, arbitrary renaming efforts, to back up value claims.

And one more thing: pass the “sea kitten” sticks.