PETA is known for many things, but good taste? Not one of them. The latest case in point: a billboard slated to go up in Sarasota that mocks a local man who was severely bitten in the thigh by a bull shark this week, landing him in intensive care. The ad features a shark gnawing on a human leg with the tagline, “Payback is hell. Go vegan.”
And no, it’s not a coincidence:
"Humans hook, spear, maim, and kill fish for 'sport' every day," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "The most dangerous predator of all is the one holding the fishing rod or standing at the 'all you can eat' seafood buffet." The organization said fish are aware of their surroundings, have complex nervous systems, and feel pain.
In a Skype interview, Campaign Director Ashley Byrne said, "We are very glad that Mr. Wickersham [the shark-attack victim] is going to be ok, but we do hope that this painful and frightening experience makes him think about the pain and fear that he’s causing to fish — and other fisherman are causing to fish.”
Fish may well be aware of their surroundings, but apparently PETA is not. The victim’s mother was not impressed by the publicity stunt, declining to dignify the campaign with a comment and instead focusing on the recovery of her son. Two summers ago, the group caused an uproar in Jacksonville, Fla., over another veganism-pushing billboard that compared overweight women to whales. Floridians would probably appreciate it if PETA stopped picking on them and left the state.
Also joining the feeding frenzy is the Humane Society of the United States’s own California state director Jennifer Fearing, who tweeted a few weeks ago a recommendation to sharks that “this would be good week [sic] to avoid biting any humans, much as we may deserve it.” We’ve always known that HSUS is just PETA in a suit and tie, but it’s disturbing to see a moral compass so far out of whack at a group that’s supposedly “mainstream.” Does the next 8-year-old who has an arm bitten off “deserve it,” HSUS?
A note to the animal-rights lobby: Jaws was not the good guy. And rooting for the shark to win shows how out of touch these groups are with ordinary people.