On November 5, Florida voters will be asked to decide whether or not pigs deserve constitutional rights. Don’t laugh — it’s for real.

In an Orlando Sentinel opinion piece, Weekly Standard writer Wesley J. Smith takes issue with this pig-in-a-poke. Smith agrees that the treatment of farm animals “is a perfectly legitimate subject for public debate,” but argues that “the Florida Constitution — like the U.S. constitution and other state constitutions — is concerned with the rights and responsibilities of people. It is not for pigs.”

Taking a more practical approach, the Florida Farm Bureau’s Frankie Hall writes in The Daytona Beach News-Journal that the proposed constitutional amendment “would only apply to two [pork] producers,” both of whom “will have thrown in the towel by January 2003.”

So why on earth are animal rights activists pushing a ballot measure that won’t govern anyone? Hall points out that they are using Floridians “as pawns to further a national agenda.”

He’s right. PETA campaign director Bruce Friedrich admitted as much 10 months ago, when he personally went to Florida to help gather signatures. A Florida victory, he wrote, will “help [them] lobby in Congress” and will ultimately “lead to similar… campaigns in other states.”

Understanding the bigger picture is even more important: in a speech at the Animal Rights 2002 convention a few months ago, PETA president and co-founder Ingrid Newkirk let the cat out of the bag: “If anybody wonders about – what’s this with all these reforms – you can hear us clearly. Our goal is total animal liberation.” [Click here for audio.]

For the uninitiated, “total animal liberation” means permanently eliminating beef, pork, poultry, eggs, milk and dairy, leather, fur, circuses, zoos, aquariums, pet ownership, rodeos, horse racing, hunting, and fishing. And don’t even think about medical research aimed at curing diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s. PETA’s Newkirk is on record saying: “Even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we’d be against it.”