Due to a daring damsel, animal lover par excellence, Laurel Lee Hines. This afternoon Laurel was driving on 25th Street, past K Mart (or whatever the heck it is called now), and noticed some adult ducks on the other side of the road—the airport side. Then she saw some other tiny dots in the road, desperate newly born ducklings frantically trying to climb up a high curb and get to their mothers. Laurel stops her car. She watches vehicles speeding by in both directions, some missing the ducklings by only a few inches.
Finally...a slight break in the traffic. She dashes across the road and starts to scoop up ducklings as they try to scurry away from her. The mother ducks are honking at the babies, while the males are further away, probably oblivious to the whole situation. Laurel gets all the ducklings up on the roadside, and the duck families waddle off to a water-filled ditch, not exactly the optimum environment for the them, but better than a four lane highway.
Three quacks for Laurel! Interestingly, this morning I had read portions of a lengthy New Yorker article to her (April 14 issue) called “The Extremist: the woman behind the most successful radical group in America” (PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). This woman, Ingrid Newkirk, is a fascinating person. And PETA is a fascinating organization. We’re members, and support their animal rights efforts, especially when they involve ad campaigns featuring beautiful women promoting vegetarianism (see left side, second row).
PETA is wonderfully creative, though undeniably controversial. But when I read in the article about how cruelly chickens, pigs, and other animals are raised on factory farms so people can eat unhealthy meat, some in-your-face activism seems entirely justified. The article's author, Michael Specter, goes to visit a poultry "farm" (actually, shed), and describes what he saw after he opened the door to the shed, every window of which was covered with blackout curtains:
"I was almost knocked to the ground by the overpowering smell of feces and ammonia. My eyes burned and so did my lungs, and I could neither see nor breathe. I put my arm across my mouth and immediately moved back toward the door, where I saw a dimmer switch. I turned it up. There must have been thirty thousand chickens sitting silently on the floor in front of me. They didn't move, didn't cluck. They were almost like statues of chickens, living in nearly total darkness and they would spend every minute of their six-week lives that way."
PETA’s mission statement reads, “Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on or use for entertainment.” Amen. Except maybe for the wearing part—I’m not ready to give up leather yet. Aside from the main www.peta.com web site, PETA sponsors a host of other sites, including www.furshame.com , www.kentuckyfriedcruelty.com , and www.wickedwendys.com . Burger King gets some kudos from PETA, since BK offers vegetarian burgers now (they are pretty good).
Anyway, it was fitting that vegetarian Laurel saved the ducklings, because it would have been the height of hypocrisy for a meat-eater to feel self-righteous about helping them, when he or she would be eating other animals for dinner the very same day. Plain fact: anyone who isn't a vegetarian isn't an animal lover, no matter what they say. You don’t love animals by killing them.