31 August 2009 00:00 [Source: ICB]
ONE OF the tourist attractions of Seattle, Washington's 102-year-old Pike Place are the fish-throwers. At the big fish market there, these people throw salmon, halibut, mackerel, crabs and a variety of other seafood around with the elan of Cirque du Soleil, sometimes sending the fish flying 15 feet from ice-room to the counter.
These throwing skills developed over the decades as the easiest way to move the big fish around, and the fishmongers' prowess has achieved enough notoriety that they are often hired to perform at functions that vary from the government of Singapore to schoolkids in Oklahoma.
In July, the fishmongers performed for the American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) annual convention in Seattle. The fish were later served for lunch. But if campaign group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had had its way, the flingers wouldn't have flung at all.
PETA president Ingrid Newkirk stated, "What if it was kittens? Would they throw dead kittens like that? I think not!"
"I think it's important to point out that the fish are dead," Dr. Ron DeHaven, executive vice president of the AVMA, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "We would not condone any activity that would mistreat live fish."
Dr. DeHaven was polite enough not to mention that kittens are not considered food by most Americans.
But one angry thrower told a reporter that he'd be willing to "toss a dead Ingrid Newkirk for $29.99/lb."
PETA had a protest outside the AVMA's event, with several prerequisitely topless people there to gain news camera attention.
At the same time, PETA threatened to "take names and photos of the visiting vets who attend the... fish toss."
Newkirk told The Seattle Times that PETA would "identify every vet who participates, and carry the objection back to his/her hometown practice."
Not that I think the citizens of Whereverville, USA, will give two shakes about some already dead fish when the family's beloved pet is ill, but I am slightly bothered by statements like that.
They remind me of the case of J. David Jentsch, associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. Professor Jentsch's work in neuroscience, specifically schizophrenia, unfortunately requires that animals be experimented on (and later destroyed).
In March, animal rights protestors set Jentsch's car on fire- in his own driveway.
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