April 25, 2008

Not Knowing What to Believe

Stough CanyonThis past week, an animal trainer was killed by a bear. [news story] It took place at a facility near Big Bear, where the animal was kept. It was a movie star bear, featured most recently in the movie Semi-Pro.

Predictably, the organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) complained that the animal had been mistreated, and that he and other show-business animals are treated cruelly. They complained about the care given to the facility's other animals, and called for the facility to be shut down. [PETA's response]

Unfortunately, PETA has a history of "crying wolf." If the animals are indeed being mistreated, then yes, action should be taken. However, when PETA says something, I have no way of knowing whether it's true or not. Some of PETA's campaigns in year's past have been quite outlandish. One of the most memorable (and infamous) was when they put much effort into a campaign that tried to convince people that, healthwise, they'd be better off drinking beer than milk.

It's not that I'm unsympathetic to PETA's ideals. Over a year ago, I made the decision to become a vegetarian, partly for health reasons, partly because I wanted to be more conscious about what I eat, but primarily because I wanted to reduce my negative impact on the environment. I'm not super-strict about it -- I will eat meat rather than refuse a host's hospitality -- but I am enough of a vegetarian that, when I ate chicken this week, my son exclaimed in surprise, "Dad! You're eating chicken!"

So I appreciate what PETA's trying to do. It's too bad that they have so little credibility that even a person sympathetic to their cause doesn't know when to believe them.

The picture is one I took last week at Stough Canyon in Burbank. It has nothing to do with the post, but it's pretty, isn't it?

No comments: