PETA activists try to suck fun out of circus

James Taranto mentioned a story in the Washington Post yesterday, which displayed the, IMHO, retarded outlook of some animal rights activists. PETA-type groups protest Ringling Bros. circuses, telling little kids that the circus is cruel to elephants.

On the Other Tightrope

But the moral debate — whether its good or bad for kids to see circus animals doing tricks — is a serious parenting issue to some.”To see a bear ride a bicycle, it is ridicule. You’re really just laughing at that bear,” said Mel Levine, a renowned pediatrician at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who has written numerous books about child behavior and the way children learn. “So the question is: Whats the message youre giving to kids when you take them to the circus and they laugh at animals? I think to laugh at animals is to devalue them.”

It struck a chord with me, since Mrs. Bitterness has taken our four-year-old to see her first circus with her preschool class today. As a kid, I remember few things as incredible as witnessing lion-tamer Gunther Gable Williams’  farewell tour. i still have the poster from that circus, and always loved the pictures of Williams’ lions and tigers performing amazing tricks, and especially one shot of a leopard giving his “oppressor,” as PETA would have it, a big hug.

There is love in Williams’ eyes during that hug, and not a hint of fear that I ever detected.

The people-tricks — flying trapeez and tightropes &c — were impressive, but the animals were what really blew me away. My Labrador, Charlie, couldn’t even learn not to jump on my 8-year-old chest claws first, or to avoid the electric fence we put up to keep him from running away (guess that scuttles my hopes of PETA membership right there).

But this Williams guy convinced elephants to stand on step-ladders; lions let him put head and arms into their mouths. People can train long enough to perform most types of amazing feats. Big deal, we have large brains and lots of time on our hands.

But for an animal to learn how to perform and awe an audience, to me, is inspirational. They’re not being “subjugated,” or regarded with “intolerance.” They’re performing, and being paid in all the peanuts they can stomach, I expect.

If i find out any PETA-dweebs were picketing in Montgomery and scared my daughter, I might need to seek out someone’s nose to bust.


One Response to “PETA activists try to suck fun out of circus”

  1. welllll, personally, I think PETA’s a bunch of NUTS. I also personally believe that saying anyone “convinced” the animals do do things outside of their nature is a bit naive. I mean, I know that animal treatment has come a long way, and trainers in the U.S. are much more compassionate and gentle than the trainers of the 1920’s circuses, etc., but we all know there are punishments and rewards when training ANYthing, from a tiger to a toddler – and I only punish my dog when I have to, not when she won’t do a trick right for all the paying customers. Does that make sense? I may be babbling, I’m sorry – I FURTHER believe that laughing at animals is just fine. I laugh at my dog all the time, when she does things that are funny – whether on her own or when I “convince” her to…I laugh at my cat, too – and I don’t feel it’s demeaning. I know they laugh at me, too.

    I went to a circus in Phenix City a few years ago – shortly before I left Alabama, and while I was not appalled by any hideous treatment, nor did I witness any, the whole set-up, for some reason, did strike me as slightly sad and ridiculous. I was awed by some things, bored by others, laughed at still others – but I doubt I’ll go to another one. Give me a fair with rides and food and balloons any day…

    p.s. you have a Lab?! lemme see pictures, darlin

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