“What’s on your dinner menu for the weekend? If it’s fish, PETA’s got you in its sights,” writes one columnist today about the radical animal rights group’s latest campaign to force Americans into strict vegetarianism. And while everyone knows People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals swims against mainstream values, its latest anti-seafood effort claims that fish are actually deep-thinking, smiling creatures that feel pain and have the right to be free from fishermen. In less than 24 hours, the feel-bad animal rights story has already hauled in over 150 media placements. It’s just another small step toward PETA’s stated goal of hooking Americans into “total animal liberation”: a strange state of affairs where eating fish — let alone fishing for fish — would be unthinkable.

The fish-feel-pain lark is just more carping by an animal-rights group bent on forcing the rest
of us into a vegan nightmare. PETA has sought a fishing ban in state parks. Its publicity-stunt presidential campaign has even called for a Constitutional amendment protecting fish.

And when PETA recently tried to scare fishermen away from their sport by claiming fish contain poison, campaign director Bruce Friedrich admitted his strategy to an animal-rights e-mail list: “For people who don’t care about the suffering of fish, I suspect this will terrify them into not eating them.” That sort of scare tactic is from the current normally occupied by PETA’s quasi-medical front group, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which ran an ad in the Washington Post highlighting the same bogus charges. We responded, in our own irreverent way, with an ad of our own that set the record straight on seafood — and fishy animal-rights groups promoting fake health scares.

As the splash from PETA’s newest propaganda campaign continues to ripple outward, it’s important to remember that the group wades into violent waters. Friedrich — the same man who said in 2001 that “it would be great” if restaurants serving meat and seafood “exploded tomorrow” — is in charge of organizing planned demonstrations “at selected seafood restaurants nationwide” starting next month. PETA has also endorsed the Animal Liberation Front and funded the Earth Liberation Front, which together claimed responsibility (on September 11, 2001, of all days) for firebombing two McDonald’s franchises.