People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has new
billboards out that claim fishing is cruel. I totally agree. The
last time I went, all I caught was a sunburn, three hooks in the
back of my thigh and hell from my pals for forgetting the Off.
Unfortunately, this is not what PETA means. PETA means fishing is
cruel to the fish. Seriously. PETA plans to put up billboards
across the U.S. and in Canada that show a Labrador retriever with
a hook in his bloody lip. IF YOU WOULDN'T DO IT TO A DOG, the
signs say, WHY DO IT TO A FISH?
And, of course, the answer is: Because fish do not bring me my
Look, I wailed for the whales. I fumed over fur. I emotionally
clubbed myself over the baby seals. But I'll be damned if I'm
going to weep over a walleye.
July 1, 2001
PETA says fish feel pain and that to snag one with a steel hook,
drag it along for 50 yards or so and then haul it out of the
water so it suffocates is sick. "Why do we throw a Frisbee to
some animals and a barbed hook to others?" PETA asks on its
And, of course, the answer is: Because fish really suck at
PETA thinks it's evil to eat fish, too. But why should we stop
eating them when they eat each other? Besides, they had their
chance to evolve. They could've crawled out of the primordial
ooze with us, but they didn't. They decided to stay behind and
swim in the water they pee in and go around never blinking. When
fish lift their scaly butts past us in the food chain, they can
eat us. Until then, pass the tartar sauce.
PETA even says catch-and-release is cruel. They say the harm and
stress caused by being caught and released is sometimes enough to
kill the fish later on. As if the fish go straight into therapy
after being caught.
Fish: I'm telling you, Doc, I was just minding my own business
when I got hauled into the sky, examined by some weird beings and
then thrown back!
Fish psychiatrist: Lemme guess. A UFO, right?
I mean, what's PETA going to do? You'll be sitting at the counter
in the deli, and suddenly, the PETA police will come running in,
shouting, "All right, back away from the tuna melt and nobody
gets hurt!" My God, we're talking about fish here. Fish have a
brain the size of a corn kernel.
Professor James Rose, a University of Wyoming neuroscientist,
studied fish for years and determined that they lack a neocortex
(parts of which process the brain's response to pain), much like
Cubs fans. Besides, if fish are so smart, why can you catch a
fish, throw it back and then, two hours later, catch the same
fish? I mean, do you really want to save something dumber than
Robert Downey Jr.?
Didn't Jesus fish? He seemed like a pretty sensitive guy. When He
zapped up all those fishes for 5,000 people, what do you think He
did with them, throw them back?
I know, I know--I hate hunting. But sitting in the back of a
pickup, taking a rifle with an infrared scope and killing a deer
from 1,000 yards away is not nearly the same thing as standing up
to your spleen in icy rushing river water, trying to cast the
perfectly tied fly into the perfect eddy to catch a rainbow
trout. Is it our fault that the trout falls for it? Tell you
what: I will get behind hunting when hunters come up with a
Why does PETA stop at fish? Where does PETA stand on the plight
of the worm? And plankton? And the 1,000,000 micro-organisms that
are crushed by your boots every time you go on a nature hike?
Have these PETA vegetarians ever gotten close to a broccoli to
hear its screams as it's violently yanked from its birthplace and
boiled to death?
Fishing is cruel? I always thought fishing was one of the most
peaceful things you could do. What are fathers and sons supposed
to do together, knit sweaters out of each other's navel lint?
What are we supposed to read, Hemingway's Old Man and the
I'll tell you one thing. Before I agree to this whole fish-human
truce, somebody had better have a long face-to-face with the
sharks about it. I say we send a bunch of PETA members down right