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Circus accusations show animal rights irrationality

This page was last modified on 20 April 2012.

Contents


Published 13 February 1992 in The Carolinian (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

Circus accusations show animal rights irrationality

by James M. Wallace
Columnist

Many UNCG students are genuinely concerned about animal rights, but find themselves caught up in pointless protests that seem to go on forever without any visible results.

Last week, flyers calling for a protest against alleged animal abuse by Barnum and Bailey's circus appeared on campus because a circus elephant in Florida ran amok and had to be destroyed to protect spectators. The question has to be asked: Should there be a protest, and furthermore, is there anything to protest?

Those of you who checked your campus mailboxes last week will recognize the preceding as a satire of a flyer headlined "Animal abuse in the circus?" which was posted on the message stands outside the campus post office.

As reported by the Associated Press, a 27-year-old, 8,000-pound Indian elephant owned by the Great American Circus, went berserk while being ridden by a woman and five children and ran out of the tent. The elephant attacked and tried to crush a police officer who was trying to help the people get off its back. The officer escaped certain death and managed to rescue the passengers.

The elephant then returned to the tent where it began tugging at bleachers filled with spectators. The elephant left the tent again and was killed by police officers acting at the request of the circus owners.

The flyer suggested that a tranquilizer gun could have been used. Unfortunately, this was not a viable option as the animal would have remained dangerous until the tranquilizer took effect. Tragically, the only way to deal with a rogue elephant is to kill it as quickly as possible in order to protect human life.

A related flyer stated, "Animals are not ours to exploit." Animal rights activists are hung up on the human "exploitation" of other animals. Herbivores exploit the plants they eat, and carnivores exploit the herbivores they eat. Ecology reveals that "exploitation" is the normal state of affairs in nature.

Last summer, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the largest of the animal rights groups, established a new low for its usual lack of taste and common sense by placing an advertisement comparing the horrific crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer with the legitimate activities of the meat processing industry.

PETA official Kathy Guillermo was quoted as saying, "We hope to jolt a few people into realizing that what happened to those people is no different from what happens to animals."

What happened to those people was murder, the unlawful taking of human life; what happens to animals is slaughter, the killing and preparation of food. The difference is hardly subtle and is readily comprehensible by any reasonably intelligent and honest person.

How much weight should we ascribe to the views of an organization which lacks the intellectual acumen to distinguish between heinous criminality and food production?

PETA and other animal rights groups mistakenly place a value on lower animal life equal to that of human life. This fundamental error, which flies in the face of common sense, is the source of the irrationality inherent in their activities. This irrationality manifests itself from the silliness of PETA's "Fur is Dead" antifur campaign, to the obscenity of the Dahmer ad, to the harassment of hunters in the field, to the shortsighted call for a ban on the use of animals in medical research.

While abuse and neglect of animals are crimes and should be treated as such, the radical extremes to which the animal rights activists would lead us are unnatural and potentially disastrous. I hope the many excesses of the animal rights movement will jolt more than a few people into realizing what an irresponsible and dangerous philosophy they espouse.

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Original unedited column as submitted to The Carolinian (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

Resisting the Ignorance of the Animal Rights Movement

by James M. Wallace

IS THERE UNMITIGATED IGNORANCE HERE AT UNCG?

Yes! Sad, yet true, UNCG students are routinely drawn into supporting farcical "causes" that are not only ridiculous, but embarrassing to themselves and others.

Many of these students are reasonably intelligent but find themselves caught up in pointless protests that seem to go on forever without any visible results.

Last week, flyers calling for a protest against alleged animal abuse by Barnum and Bailey's circus appeared on campus because a circus elephant in Florida ran amok and had to be destroyed to protect spectators.

The question has to be asked: Should there be a protest, and furthermore, is there anything to protest?

No! Animal rights activists are hysterical irrationalists who suffer guilt complexes over being human. If you agree with me, read on.

Those of you who checked your campus mailboxes last week will recognize the preceding as a satire of a flyer headlined "ANIMAL ABUSE IN THE CIRCUS?" which was posted on the message stands outside the campus post office.

As reported by the Associated Press, a 27-year-old, 8,000-pound Indian elephant owned by the Great American Circus, went berserk while being ridden by a woman and five children and ran out of the tent. The elephant attacked and tried to crush a police officer who was trying to help the people get off its back. The officer escaped certain death and managed to rescue the passengers. The elephant then returned to the tent where it began tugging at bleachers filled with spectators. The elephant left the tent again and was killed by police officers acting at the request of the circus owners.

The flyer suggested that a tranquilizer gun could have been used. Unfortunately, this was not a viable option as the animal would have remained dangerous until the tranquilizer took effect. Tragically, the only way to deal with a rogue elephant is to kill it as quickly as possible in order to protect human life.

A related flyer stated, "Animals are not ours to exploit." Animal rights activists are hung up on the human "exploitation" of other animals. Herbivores exploit the plants they eat, and carnivores exploit the herbivores they eat. Ecology reveals that "exploitation" is the normal state of affairs in nature; exploitation is a law of nature.

Last summer, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the largest of the animal rights groups, established a new low for its usual lack of taste and common sense by placing an advertisement comparing the horrific crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer with the legitimate activities of the meat processing industry.

PETA official Kathy Guillermo was quoted as saying, "We hope to jolt a few people into realizing that what happened to those people is no different from what happens to animals." What happened to those people was murder, the unlawful taking of human life; what happens to animals is slaughter, the killing and preparation of food. The difference is hardly subtle and is readily comprehensible by any reasonably intelligent and honest person.

How much weight should we ascribe to the views of an organization which lacks the intellectual acumen to distinguish between heinous criminality and food production?

PETA and other animal rights groups mistakenly place a value on lower animal life equal to that of human life. This fundamental error, which flies in the face of common sense, is the source of the irrationality inherent in their activities. This irrationality manifests itself from the silliness of PETA's "Fur is Dead" antifur campaign to the obscenity of the Dahmer ad to the harassment of hunters in the field to the shortsighted call for a ban on the use of animals in medical research.

While abuse and neglect of animals are crimes and should be treated as such, the radical extremes to which the animal rights activists would lead us are unnatural and potentially disastrous. I hope the many excesses of the animal rights movement will jolt more than a few people into realizing what an irresponsible and dangerous philosophy they represent and prevent the tragedy that would be an "animal rights future."

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Commentary

Reading the beginnings of both versions of this column, I obviously intended it to be more aggressive than what was finally printed. In preparing it for publication, my editor dramatically reduced my belligerent, mocking tone. I was irritated that she took off my editorial's edge, but as it turned out, she probably did me a favor. (See below.)

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Messages left on my answering machine on 13 February 1992

Of all the controversial topics I've covered, this was the first and only time that I got phone messages which is extraordinary in and of itself. Even more extraordinary is that my callers had to endure the following announcement just for the opportunity:

Spoken with a Klingon snarl la Worf:

Greetings, humanoid! You have reached the telephone answering device of James Matthew Wallace. If you are a telemarketer, hang up now and never call him again! Doing so will ensure the continuation of your wretched existence. If you have legitimate business with him, leave your name, number, and message at the beep. He will return your call if he deems it NECESSARY!

Spoken with a normal voice:

Oh, alright! So, it's an obnoxious announcement. Answering machines are obnoxious by nature. So be a good little masochist and enjoy the abuse!

Even so, two self-loathing, misanthropic, glittering jewels of colossal ignorance honored me with these tidbits, but then what do you expect from fanatics.


Anonymous, spoken with a phony condescending patrician accent:

Perhaps you should not criticize things of which you have not the capahcity to understahnd.

The Compleat Heretic responds:

Perhaps you should not criticize things of which you have not the testicles to do so forthrightly as would a man. Furthermore, perhaps you should be more sensitive to my incapacity to understand; after all, I am not responsible for my being a mature adult male of the preeminent predatory species on the planet!


Mr. Spencer's adrenal glands were obviously functioning properly as he spoke with a wavering and cracking voice:

James, uh [PAUSE] my name's Rick Spencer, and [PAUSE] I was just calling about the [PAUSE] editorial you wrote. Um, [PAUSE] don't really appreciate it, and I think it's a poor misrepresentation of [PAUSE] the animal rights movement. Um, [PAUSE] I guess that's all I have to say. Bye.

The Compleat Heretic responds:

Rick, my name's Matt Wallace, and I was just writing about the message you left. Don't really care, and I think my editorial is a fair representation of the fanatical wackos in the animal rights movement. I guess that's all I have to say-- for now. Bye.

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Letter to the Editor published 20 February 1992 in The Carolinian (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro), copyright 1992 by The Carolinian

Animal rights activists' views not considered

Upon reading the two articles by James Wallace and Chris Jones on the student protest of the circus which came to Greensboro two weeks ago, we must say, distinguishing between the "objective" article by Mr. Jones and the editorial by Wallace, was quite a task indeed.

Then, upon reading the phrase in the editorial policy of The Carolinian which states that the paper is "devoted to upholding the fair representation of all ideas and opinions relevant to...the UNCG community," we were further amazed by this seemingly obvious contridiction in the publication.

Nonetheless, despite how much The Carolinian would like to misdirect the issue into several petty ones (the protest was organized before the elephant was killed and the misinformed flier was printed), an accurate representation of the protestors' views in the form of a letter is quite necessary since the paper seems to have failed miserably.

Addressing the article by Chris Jones, it seems that not only the method by which the information was obtained was terribly slanted, but also the way the information was presented. After spending the evening of the protest speaking to circus officials, Jones or his informant approached one of the organizers of the protest something to the effect of "Do you realize that Barnum & Bailey's circus' animal treatment record is the greatest in the business?"

The organizer answered with the quote that was printed and then was asked if he knew that the flier advertising the protest was incorrect (regarding the Indian elephant shooting in Florida). He answered and then Jones left himself to use a PETA flier for the rest of his information in the article.

Granted, the flier contained many of the protestor's views; however, if Jones would have spoken to us about the issue, perhaps he would have seen that the protestors disagree with the use of animals in circuses for entertainment and, as mentioned before, the protest was planned before the news of the killed elephant. So "despite the circus' exemplary record" of cruelty, we "felt it necessary to protest."

Somewhat less disturbing, but equally as uninformed, was the editorial column by Wallace. His stereotyping the animal rights movement; re-directing the focus of the protest from issue to flier; and his general misunderstanding of vegetarianism, the meat industry, and PETA's methods of activism were all rather "irrational" in themselves.

If Wallace would like to write about potentially disasterous and unnatural "extremes," maybe he should learn more about the effects of the beef industry on our earth's resources: water, land, trees, and air. If every American were to become a vegetarian, world hunger would be eliminated. We do feel that all life has equal worth. That's fine if you disagree, but why should animal rights activists be persecuted because we happen to have a higher level of compassion than most people?

Wallace is correct, to an extent. Mere existence causes detriment to our planet. A crucial decision must be made to cause as little impact as possible. So, while we, as herbivores do "exploit" the land, we do not destroy it by forcing animals to live in feedlots, from which excrement pollutes the land, sky, and water.

Cattle eat 90% of America's agricultural production in feedlots, and a pound of cattle flesh could feed 5 people in a starving nation with the food that the cattle was force-fed.

The Carolinian has managed to do nothing short of an excellent job of putting down the way of life we choose through yellow journalism, without showing the views of the protestors. Not once were the protestors properly quoted regarding the issue of animal cruelty in the circus. It was not our intention to spend vast amounts of energy with the circus issue.

As cruel as the circus is, most of us would like to address the issues which Wallace criticized so ignorantly and to crush those typical stereotypes. Why is it that the kind and gentle are subjected to so much ridicule? Censor this letter as you deem it necessary. Thanks.

Animal Rights Activists of UNCG

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The Compleat Heretic responds:

After reading your anonymous collective letter and receiving your phone messages, I realize that, as you assert and unlike you, I'm abysmally ignorant and irrational. Also unlike you, I have absolutely no idea of what I was writing about, and, unlike your letter, my editorial was filled with outrageous inaccuracies, wanton misrepresentations, and dogmatic assertions. I stand corrected. NOT!

"[W]hy should animal rights activists be persecuted because [they] happen to have a higher level of compassion than most people? ... Why is it that the kind and gentle are subjected to so much ridicule?" Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you're a bunch of ignorant, irrational, sanctimonious, environmentalist wackos. Why don't you do something that might actually help save the planet by reducing the environmental strain and also by improving the human gene pool? KILL YOURSELVES!

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