Bravo to PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals. The nation's most controversial and influential animal rights
group (650,000 members strong) is venturing across the last frontier in
its tireless campaign to raise public awareness about animal cruelty.
The group's latest public relations salvo is the firing off of 100,000
teaching kits and videos to educators across the country, instructing
the instructors on how to spot and stop animal cruelty. The more we find
out about child cruelty to animals, the more intrinsically linked such
behavior appears to be to violence against people perpetrated by older
children and adults.
PETA Director Lisa Lange says there have been links
between every recent perpetrator of mass school violence and animal
cruelty. She quotes the Boston Globe as reporting that the two killers
in Littleton, Colorado, bragged to their friends about animal torture.
In May of 1998, a front page New York Times article described high
school shoot-out meister and enfant terrible Kipland Kinkel, the
perpetrator of last year's horrible Thurston High School blood-letting
and murder of his own two parents in Oregon. The Times reported, "(Kipland
frequently) talked of guns, bombs and torturing animals. In middle
school, the yearbook named him, "Most Likely to Start World War III."
"He was always talking about what he did to animals," said David Willis,
a freshman who played with him on the football team at Thurston High
School. "He would like torture animals and stuff and tell us about it."
But the federal and state response has been to mimic the
Roman Emperor Nero and fiddle while the country burns. Even though the
FBI and the American Psychiatric Association have both reported that
animal cruelty is a key warning sign for future violence by young
people, there is no federal program and there are few state laws that
address this issue. Among the leaders: California recently passed a law
requiring psychological counseling for anyone found guilty of animal
cruelty and North Carolina recently became one of the first states to
prosecute pig farm managers for felony (as opposed to the usual
misdemeanor) cruelty to animals. That in a case where sows were being
horribly beaten and one poor screaming pig had her leg sawed off "for
fun" by farm workers.
PETA's goal is to help adults key in on troubled
children and get them into counseling before they become the next Eric
Harris or Dylan Klebold. Their initiative also includes a mailing of
brochures to more than 10,000 obstetricians and pediatricians in the
hope that doctors will display them in their offices, warning parents
and parents-to-be that cruelty to animals is not normal and should serve
as an immediate sign of a severely troubled child.
PETA recently won a significant victory, when major
manufacturer Procter & Gamble agreed to stop testing current products on
animals. The company has yet to agree to stop testing future products on
animals. But as PETA noted in a news release on P&G's agreement,
"History is made in small steps, and this is one of them." Similarly, we
are becoming a more enlightened society on the issue of animal cruelty.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, for example, recently banned an annual
pigeon shoot. The Chief Justice, in his opinion for the court, called
the practice, "Cruel and moronic," signaling a zero tolerance approach
on such acts of senseless barbarism.
We are definitely heading in the right direction. PETA
is extremely instrumental in taking us there. But we have a long, long
way ahead of us.
Go on to Deadly
E.coli in Half of US Cattle
Return to 19 January 2000 Issue
Return to Newsletters
** Fair Use Notice**
This document may contain copyrighted material, use of which has not been
specifically authorized by the copyright owners. I believe that this
not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes a fair use of the
copyrighted material (as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright
Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your
own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright