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Weekly Alibi PETA: One Big Booboo

By Captain Opinion

MARCH 28, 2000:  I don't like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They're elitists who want to deny the rest of us the joy of biting into a bloody porterhouse smothered in onions and dipped in worcestershire sauce just so they can soothe their aching consciences and stop feeling like the worthless, ineffectual slugs they really are.

Every time PETA has sanctimoniously blathered about how the meat industry is mistreating cows, rabbits, bugs and rodents, I've gotten a butcher's poster that shows where the various cuts of cow or pig or horse meat come from and put it up next to my grill. It's not that I don't like cows. I love them. It's just that I love them best when they're sliced into manageable portions, rubbed with garlic, sprinkled lightly with pepper and grilled.

But PETA has finally taken up an issue that I agree with them about. It has launched an ad campaign against the dairy industry, urging college students to drink beer instead of milk. PETA says that beer is better than milk because milk contains fat. It also says that the dairy industry is cruel to cows.

I'm with PETA on this one, but not because I think that college kids should be drinking beer. College kids should be kept away from alcohol and locked in dark rooms until they realize that life is about stuffing their pockets full of money, and not about idealism, integrity or chanting silly slogans while marching in the hot sun. If the world ran on idealism we'd all be living in mud huts and eating ants. There'd be no SUVs, cable television or video games.

I support PETA because their allegation about the mistreatment of cows is true. I know it's true because as a kid I spent my summers on a dairy farm. What I saw there shocked and saddened my young eyes.

They had Guernsey cows on the farm -- big, lumbering brown and white beasts with thick eyelashes, luscious brown eyes, wet, nubby snouts and flaring nostrils. The cows spent their summer days walking around the sun-drenched pastures eating the tall, green hay, mooing and expelling their food. When they weren't eating, the cows would plop themselves down on the ground and lie there chewing their cuds while taking in the sun. Occasionally, they'd whip their curly tails around to swish the flies away from their huge bodies. Then they'd get up and eat some more and moo and expel and then they'd lie down again and lounge. The cows did that all day, until around 4 p.m., at which time they would get up -- sometimes at the insistence of barking dogs -- and slowly lumber toward the barn where they'd be milked.

One day I confronted my uncle, who owned the farm, about the situation.

"Why don't these cows have jobs?" I demanded. "They stink from being lazy. By allowing them to lounge around and eat all day you are robbing them of their self-esteem, sense of personal responsibility and desire to make something of themselves. You are sentencing them to perpetual dependency. Your treatment of them is oppressive and constitutes cruelty to animals."

My uncle was six feet, four inches. He had to stoop down real far to look me in the eye.

"I guess you never recovered from when they dropped you on your head, huh? You know, you're kind of weird," he said.

Not one to be deterred by personal insults, I persisted: "Not only do you rob them of dignity and ambition, but you demean them with names like Bossy, Betsy, Basha and Booboo. Not one of them has a business suit. Not one has climbed the corporate ladder and become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. You are imposing a glass ceiling on them. They are not here to give milk or die. They are more than just walking mammary glands. I shall report you."

My uncle scratched his head and slammed the rim of his metal milk pail on top of a field mouse scurrying around on the ground. Then he lifted the pail just enough so the mouse could squeeze out from underneath. When it did, he squished the thing with his size 14 foot.

I decided to take my message to the cows themselves. I ran into the pasture and confronted Booboo. Before I could say a word, she curled her large, sandpaper-like tongue around my flannel shirt and tried to eat it. I stepped back and spent an hour admonishing Booboo and the others for allowing themselves to be robbed of their dignity. I told them they were being exploited, and tried everything I could to shame them out of their laziness, including appealing to their patriotism and loyalty to their species.

"All you do is eat and sleep and drink all day," I said. "If you had jobs you'd have money and, like true Americans, you could go shopping. You could become the executive director of PETA and wage war on behalf of animals."

Booboo wasn't impressed. She blinked slowly at me, lowered her head, yanked at a clump of grass with her tongue and whipped her tail around to swish away the flies.

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