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Jewish World Review June 16, 2000 /13 Sivan, 5760

Michelle Malkin

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Consumer Reports

Dads, daughters, and
PETA's spoilsports -- MY DAD AND I have been fishing together for 25 years. These outings have produced some of my fondest childhood memories: muggy summers and muted autumn morns, salty hair and burnished skin, bright red-and-white bobbers, emerald waters, and cerulean skies; seagulls circling, minnows wriggling, bare feet dangling off our seaweed-strewn pier on the Jersey shore; the [start ital]whirrrr[end ital] and click of our side-by-side casts, the shared rite of silent anticipation, and steadfast companionship amid the constancy of tides.

Fishing, in other words, is not just about catching fish. It's a way for fathers to intimately convey the values of self-reliance, patience, resourcefulness, and stewardship to their children. Like thousands of dads and daughters who celebrated National Fishing Week last week, my dad and I spent a few quiet, precious hours casting, trolling, catching, releasing, and upholding a quarter-century-old tradition.

Leave it to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to try and spoil the party for all of us fishing families.

The animal rights' group traipsed across the country last week in an attempt to disrupt National Fishing Week activities and indoctrinate schoolchildren. Circumventing parents and teachers, PETA members stood outside schoolyards and distributed "Look, Don't Hook" toy binoculars to kids. A six-foot-tall anti-fishing mascot, "Gill the Fish," hovered nearby while activists spread the animal rights' gospel.

Our finned friends, the group argues, feel pain. "They have neurochemical systems like humans and sensitive nerve endings in their lips and mouths," declared a PETA press release. Never mind that marine biologists disagree about the neurological evidence, and that many scientists note that primitive fish brains make it unlikely that fish consciously experience pain stimuli.

Fishing, PETA insists on lecturing young anglers, is "cruel not cool."

The radical group directs children to throw away their poles, lobby the federal government to ban fishing, and hold demonstrations at fishing tournaments, piers, lakes, and ponds.

PETA's anti-fishing coordinator, Dawn Carr, is a bottomless well of compassionate-sounding platitudes: "Kids should be encouraged to enjoy nature without tormenting or killing animals," she says. "We should be teaching our kids to have empathy toward the pain and suffering of others -- and fishing is a lesson in insensitivity." And, Carr adds: "We seek to shift the ways animals are viewed, from being a resource to be exploited to that of the community of individuals that they are."

Well, let's talk about insensitivity, torment, and exploitation. In their zeal to ban fishing, PETA's animal rights colleagues in Britain and Germany have thrown rocks or sent scuba divers into angling waters to scare the fish away. Anti-angling extremists here in the U.S. have reportedly embraced similar tactics. Who knows what kind of psychological trauma these militant tactics are causing the "community of individuals" that PETA believes the fishies to be?

Kids, take note: This kind of self-indulgent terrorism by animal rights activists is truly "cruel not cool."

Over the past several months, PETA has targeted governors in Montana, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Kansas with anti-fishing fax attacks. Several of these states sponsor a program called "Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs." It provides bait, tackle, and lessons to children, with an emphasis on fishing as a family activity and lifetime pursuit. PETA argues that anglers young and old are ruining the environment. But those who fish, more than anyone else, have the strongest incentive to practice responsible conservation, protect watersheds and fish habitat, prevent pollution, and ensure that fish populations remain healthy for generations to come.

Thankfully, not everyone is taking PETA's bait. "Are you completely out of your mind?" a Missoula, Mont., woman said last month as she confronted the anti-anglers. "What could possibly be wrong with fathers taking their kids fishing?"

Amen. This Father's Day, fight back against those miserable spoilsports at PETA. Hook up with your dad and head for the nearest fishing hole.

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


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