Courtesy PieAre SquareYup, you heard me correctly: sea kittens...kittens of the sea. At least, that's the mental image PETA would like us to picture every time we sit down to a fish dinner. Sea kittens are the latest marketing campaign cooked up by those crazy (like a fox?) folks at PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
According to PETA's website, the youth-oriented campaign hopes to give fish a make-over that will make them sound more cute and cuddly than they are. "PETA thought that by renaming fish sea kittens, compassionate people who would never dream of hurting a dog or a cat might extend that sympathy to fish, or sea kittens," says PETA campaign coordinator Ashley Byrne.
Byrne added, "Most parents would never dream of spending a weekend torturing kittens for fun with their families, but hooking a sea kitten through the mouth and dragging her through the water is the same as hooking a kitten through the mouth and dragging her behind your car."
When you visit PETA's Save the Sea Kittens website, you’ll notice that it’s definitely geared towards families with young children. You can make your own sea kitten, a.k.a. dress up cartoon fish in ridiculous outfits, or read sea kitten bedtime stories, which are even more factually-bereft than normal children's stories - you don't believe me, but it's true!
Beyond the website, PETA has focused its efforts on schools. PETA members have sent letters to several high schools, including Spearfish High School in South Dakota and Whitefish High School in Montana, asking them to change their names to Sea Kitten High School. Just imagine the fear the Sea Kittens would strike into the heart of their opponents on the basketball court or the football field!
Speaking of fear, campaign coordinators are counting on it to discourage kids from eating "sea kitten" products. "Knowing that the fish sticks in the school cafeteria are really made out of tortured sea kittens makes most kids want to lose their lunch." Personally though, if my memory of the fish sticks in the school cafeteria is anything to go on, they were gag-inducing enough on their own without knowing how they’re made – tortured or not.
While the results of this campaign remain to be seen, it's generating a lot of press, from newspapers and press releases to confused and frustrated bloggers. Even the Colbert Report jumped on the bandwagon and you can watch what Stephen Colbert had to say about the campaign during Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger below. (The PETA segment is about 1 minute, 30 seconds into the clip.)
Courtesy bistromathgirlAs for me, I'm all for ending harmful fishing practices - the lesser known purpose of this campaign - but that's not going to stop me from having some tasty fish for dinner tomorrow! And somehow, I don't really think that my pet fish will have anything to say on the matter...
Check out these sites for more information on the campaign and its impact around the world:
Courtesy william c hutton jrYou know what’s bad? Animal cruelty.
Seriously. I mean, I don’t want to go out on a political limb here, but… I’m against it. You can put that on your head and call it a hat: JGordon is officially against animal cruelty.
Unfortunately, I’m also lazy and ignorant. What exactly constitutes animal cruelty? And, if I’m taking part in it, will it be too inconvenient for me to change my ways?
Is dressing my dog up in clothes that match my own considered “cruel”? What if I take him out on the town, and refer to him as my “twin” and “special friend”?
Reaching into fish tanks to flick the goldfish—cruel, or playful? Because the fish seem to like it, even if their owners don’t.
Screaming at pigeons? And does the language I use matter?
And how, really, should I feel about the dairy industry?
Well, that’s when I turn to PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA is a non-profit animal rights organization that works to prevent animal cruelty in medical and cosmetic testing, factory farms, and fur farms (among other areas). It encourages activism, transparency in business’ use of animals, and community involvement. And changing the names of towns like Rodeo, California, and Hamburg, New York, to something “less suggestive of animal exploitation.” And comparing the treatment of animals to the Holocaust. And sending letters to celebrity babies, reminding them that they shouldn’t wear fur. Vital, heady stuff.
This week, PETA has sent a bold new letter to ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s, with a message sure to resonate in the hearts of non-celebrity baby people around the world: stop using cruelty-tainted cow’s milk for your gourmet ice cream, and start using delicious, healthy, human breast milk.
The letter points out that, in addiction to the cruelty employed in obtaining cow’s milk, drinking milk can lead to anemia and diabetes in children, as well as allergies and obesity and heart disease. This may very well be the case, although the citation for all of these arguments is a link to another PETA website called “milksucks.com.” Milksucks.com points out that a glass of milk is about 49 % fat, which seems like an awfully dubious figure. (The USDA says that whole milk is about 3.25% fat. But they would, wouldn’t they.) A variety of studies show both increases and decreases in cancer, heart diseases, etc, from consuming milk (Here’s a link to wikipedia’s milk medical research section, which has links to the original studies cited, which I don’t want to take the time to post here.)
Breast milk, it seems, is pretty good for babies, and may be good for folks with gastro-intestinal disorders. And it doesn’t come from sad cows, as far as I know.
PETA got the idea from a particular Swiss restaurant that plans to replace 75% percent of the cow’s milk they use with human milk. The obvious next step is to present the notion to a major ice cream maker, although I’m not sure that the massive breast milk infrastructure that will allow a Swiss restaurant to partially replace the cow milk they use exists in America. Still, the message was sent, and I think the American people heard it loud and clear: PETA has some ideas that we can relate to.