At least I can spell

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 1, 2005

I took one for the team last week.

To be quite frank, I took more than one for the team last week.

Regular readers of this Thursday space will recall last week's column dealing with an update from the world of PETA. I discovered and discussed, with my warped humor included, their impending gala in Hollywood, their choices of sex tape stars Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee as PETA spokespersons, their KFC (Kentucky Fried Cruelty) campaign and a recent advertising effort linking animal cruelty to slavery.

The response I received in return was enormous. E-mails came from nearly every corner of the United States. All but one took me to task for attempting to tarnish PETA's reputation as a world leader in animal rights.

Here's just a sampling of those e-mails:

"I read with interest your article/editorial condemning PETA's comparison of the treatment of some animals to the slave trade. If you really look at the comparison, there is no question as to its validity. Let's look at the circus elephant. Many are kidnapped from their families as children. They are beaten and tortured in order to "learn" how to perform demeaning tricks for human entertainment. When not performing, they live most of their lives in chains. Their lives are misery. Not like slavery? Think again!" Ann Bailey, Huntington, WV

"Looking back, we are certainly not proud of sending children into dangerous work environments, African slave trading, Native American abuse or the tremendous suffering in Nazi death camps.  Neither should we be proud or supportive of animal cruelty, abuse, and un-necessary suffering….but do we have to repeat history by ignoring it until someone actually steps up?  I applaud PETA's courage and encourage others to remember that children died and people were slaves until someone had the courage to say that it was wrong.  I also wonder, shutter to think, what would Cal Bryant be compared to." Libby Simons, Harrison, TN.      

"The fact that Mr. Bryant believes that chickens were put on this earth for one reason only and that is to feed his face is enough evidence for me that PETA's efforts are truly over his head.  Don't worry about PETA's campaigns Mr. Bryant.  They're not meant for you.  They're meant for people who actually believe there might be a chance that animals do feel pain and are not put here for our purpose."  Steve Greig, Denver, CO.

"Mr. Bryant's August 25 editorial entitled "Thank-you [sic] PETA" is a throw-back the 17th century, when philosopher Rene Descartes argued that animals lack thought and the ability to suffer.

These one-sided assertions were long ago disproven scientifically, and even today's schoolchildren recognize that non-human animals think and feel pain." Mark Langley, Garden City, NY

"This newspapar actually hired this &uot;writer&uot; while so many more qualified people are out of work?  This looks like the mindless drivle of the National Enquirer.  But he did spell most of the words correctly." Mark Crimaudo, Candler, N.C. (Editor's Note: It does appear I do have one thing going in my favor, I can indeed spell. This e-mail appears exactly as received. We did not change Mr. Crimaudo's spellings of "newspapar" or "drivle.")

"Get a grip, you arrogant people!  The ability to suffer is the one thing all of us animals have in common." Jean Bettanny, Port Townsend, WA.

I did learn one thing from all of this, other than the fact that I can spell; there are a lot of folks out there who are extremely passionate over animals. I join them in their effort to bring attention to overpopulation of certain pets, dogs and cats in particular. I also agree there are those who abuse or abandon their responsibility to meet the need of their pets, dogs and cats in particular.

However, I stop short of advocating for the rights of animals bred and raised for human consumption. I didn't crawl to the top of the food chain to eat carrots. If a chicken, cow or hog has to be held in captivity, killed, gutted and divided into eatable portions for my survival, then so be it. Maybe somewhere out there in the vast universe, there's an alternate world where the animals are at the top of the food chain and humans are listed on the menu.

What I do know and what this newspaper has been reporting since June 15 is that two PETA employees allegedly picked-up 28 dogs from the Bertie County Animal Shelter and three cats from Ahoskie Animal Hospital, stuck syringes full of life-ending drugs into their paws, stuffed them in heavy plastic bags and tossed 18 of them, including seven puppies, into a dumpster here in Ahoskie. Following their arrest, the other 13 dead animals were found inside the van they were operating.

Would someone please explain to me the difference between what these two people allegedly did in that van on June 15 and what animal rights activists spend so much time and effort lobbying against?

If their actions are acceptable in the name of animal suffering, then it’s not me who’s living in a dream world, nor arrogant, nor uninformed.