PETA is an organization that has outlived its usefulness. It may have started with a noble idea, but People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is now all about publicity in its quest to make us all feel bad whenever we do something that offends the sensibilities of its radical members.
The group was in the news (shocking, right?) last week when it asked the American Veterinary Medical Association not to allow the famous fishmongers of Seattle's Pike Place Fish Market to conduct a fish-tossing exhibition during a convention in July.
PETA wrote one of its patented letters to the veterinarians group, saying in part: "You should know that people who care about animals are appalled that a veterinary organization, whose purpose is to represent the interests of those whose jobs involve protecting the well-being of animals would promote an event in which animals are treated so disrespectfully and are handled as if they were toys."
Memo to PETA: The fish are already long dead by the time the fishmongers get their hands on them.
The memo is not necessary, of course. PETA knows the fish-tossing spectacle is harmless, and the only people likely to be offended are those who might get hit in the back of the head by a wayward mackerel because they aren't paying attention.
The organization long ago stopped doing much of anything about real abuse of animals, and has instead morphed into a radical group that exists only to indoctrinate new members into a lifestyle it wants to force on everyone. PETA does this by attempting to turn everyday activities like eating a cheeseburger, drinking a glass of milk or fishing into acts of barbarism.
And we haven't even gotten to hunting.
That's right. I wrote the word "hunting." Somewhere out there, a PETA member's right eye just started twitching, and he or she doesn't know why. Later, an old lady wearing a fur is going to pay.
A colleague once opined that PETA should actually stand for "People Eating Tasty Animals." Well, as an enlightened 21st century man, I'm much more sensitive than that. But I'm still never going to pass PETA's membership test.
For starters, the shoes I'm wearing right now are made, in part, out of leather. Upon further review, so are my watch band and cell-phone case.
I like burgers, hot dogs, steak and chicken. Fish, too. Earlier today, I attended a graduation party at which the main course was a roasted pig. Tacos were served, too, and they weren't of the vegetarian variety.
And sometimes, when I get home from work, nothing goes better with a late-night peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich than a tall, cold glass of milk.
A few clicks on the Web are all it takes to figure out PETA doesn't approve of my lifestyle. The organization fronts a series of Web sites designed to illustrate how much better life would be if we all ate greens, wore non-leather sandals, drank nothing but water and didn't drop a line into a lake every so often.
Fishing, of course, hurts. That's another PETA-approved message. PETA calls fish "sea kittens," in an attempt to appeal to children and young adults whose minds can be - pun intended - hooked.
I was young once, too. A long time ago, I wondered in print why hunters had to go into the woods during deer season. As you might suspect, I had some fun with that column. But more than a few hunters didn't think I was so funny. I remember learning that my column had become, ahem, a fishwrapper for some of them, and the newspaper I worked for at the time lost a few subscriptions because of what I'd written.
I'm older and wiser now, and long ago recognized that most hunters are also diligent conservationists. Imagine PETA got its way and hunting was outlawed. You wouldn't want to live in that world.
I like animals. Three are members of my family. Ask around. I'm a sucker for a stray cat. One of our former sportswriters now has a cat my daughter and I found, but couldn't keep.
I even like the animals most people don't consider cute and cuddly. They're often the most fascinating creatures in existence.
Most of you are probably more like me than you're like the PETA radicals. We don't need to be told how to treat animals ethically. We're already doing so.
But that doesn't mean I won't be going fishing today. I might even bring along some burgers and wash them down with a pint of milk.
But, hey, I promise it will be 2-percent milk.