One of the animal rights movement’s most controversial (and disturbing) beliefs is the notion that modern animal agriculture is similar to the horrors inflicted on human beings during the Nazi Holocaust. This twisted worldview has reared its ugly head in print, on the Internet, and in traveling exhibits. Now it’s playing a small part in the confirmation hearings for a U.S. Supreme Court nominee. Stephen Dujack, an environmental writer expected to be highly critical of high-court hopeful Samuel Alito, was dropped from the hearings’ witness list after word spread about a 2003 Los Angeles Times essay in which he claimed raising chickens and cows for food constituted a “modern-day Holocaust on animals.

The animal-rights comparison of Old MacDonald with Adolf Hitler has a long history, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) president Ingrid Newkirk’s mournful remark that “six million Jews died in concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses.” Entire animal-rights books have been written in an attempt to justify this point of view (click here and here for examples). And PETA’s multi-nation photo exhibit, titled “The Holocaust on Your Plate,” openly compared Jewish victims of Auschwitz with ordinary livestock.

What distinguishes Stephen Dujack (an ardent animal rightist) from the rest of his movement is that he seems to have recognized that he crossed the line between passion and lunacy. Speaking to The Daily Princetonian on Saturday, Dujack acknowledged:

I regret very much having written that article. It’s caused so much pain to people that I didn’t intend to, so many who suffered like my family and worse … That’s the only thing I’ve written that I wish I could pull back. We all make mistakes sometimes.

The only other such apology on record was a half-hearted mea culpa for PETA’s “Holocaust” project last year from Ingrid Newkirk, a statement that The Jerusalem Post noted was largely “devoted to explaining the rationale behind launching the campaign” in the first place. This non-apology apology also didn’t stop PETA from moving forward with its equally offensive public comparison of African-American slaves to farm animals.