Jewish World Review June 17, 2002 / 7 Tamuz, 5762

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

Happy cows are really miserable? | The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, has weighed in again, proclaiming that the latest round of ads from the California Milk Advisory Board, is misleading. The spots show happy cows enjoying the bliss of the sundrenched California lifestyle. Because of their bliss, they produce a higher quality milk and cheese for a lactose-tolerant America than cows in the Midwest, who do not have the benefits of balmy weather, surfing, and movie stars.

"The truth is," Matthew Penze, a lawyer for PETA, told the San Francisco Chronicle, "that there's misery in every glass of milk."

I'm not a milk drinker myself, though I must admit I do enjoy a cracker with a wedge of Havarti dill on occasion, without giving a single thought to the emotional state of either the bovine creature from whence the cheese first issued, or of the humans who processed the cheese, inserted the dill, wrapped it in plastic, and placed it on the store shelf. Call me heartless, but I have seen a cow or two milked in my time, and I have seen my share of suffering as well. In my opinion, a cow milked is not a cow tortured. A cow bored maybe, but then cows always seem a little bored, don't they?

Sure, PETA has a point. Cows don't talk. Cows don't sing "Sunshine Day." Cows don't harbor horrible memories of Wisconsin. Cows probably don't consider California earthquakes to be a soothing foot massage. But again, when I'm sucking a chocolate malted through a straw, the emotional well-being of the entities which produced this fine product is not something I dwell on. Whether the cow or dairy farmer has achieved satori, or is shivering in a barn working through personal issues, is frankly a matter of indifference to me.

Previously, PETA has tried to stop the "Got Milk?" campaign on the basis that it promoted unhealthy products. But what has that go to do with the ethical treatment of animals? Skateboards aren't healthy for us either. Has PETA spoken out about that?

Certainly, we'd all be better off if the airwaves were uncluttered with rampant anthropomorphism, whether it's talking cows in the pasture or fuzzy little bears in the drier. And we'd probably be better off eating raw beets and soy beans and respecting our fur-bearing brethren as we ride our ten-speeds to our eco-conscious places of employment. In the meantime, set down that soy latte, and pass the Havarti, pal.

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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.


06/12/02: Very similar to a rock
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05/30/02: Pooches in sharkskin suits and the end of dog tags
05/22/02: We baby boomers used to rule the roost
05/20/02: The Files now Ex
05/14/02: Entangled in Spider-Man's web!?
05/02/02: April Showers May Come Our Yadda Yadda
04/24/02: From child murderer to milk hawker
04/10/02: New realities
03/21/02: You did it your way? I have to kill you now!
03/12/02: Life in the warehouse
01/28/02: Shoes and food
01/24/02: Suspension of disbelief has nothing to do with whether we accept something as real or not
01/22/02: Save the Grand Ole Opry?
12/15/01: If you truly want to appeal to the lowest common denominator
12/11/01: KNITTING!
12/07/01: Conspiracy by the 'fat suit' lobby?
12/04/01: The future of comic books
11/15/01: Literary tips in a jar
11/12/01: The ectoplasm of a ghost economy
11/05/01: Sumner Redstone's passions
10/31/01: My irony
10/29/01: Even in wartime, America can still bring it home
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10/17/01: Pathetic me
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10/01/01: Confessions of a sarcastic scribe
09/11/01: The end of Mom
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08/28/01: Buzz!
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08/20/01: I robot, you Jane
08/15/01: A wild and crazy world!
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08/08/01: Garage Dearth!
08/06/01: That Big Clock
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07/31/01: Catchphrase history of the world
07/26/01: The Bride of Science
07/23/01: That java jive
07/17/01: Homogenized hegemony
07/13/01: Applying Newton's First Law of Physics to textbooks
07/10/01: The dumb and the dead

© 2001, Ian Shoales