PETA acts like a fish out of water |

PETA acts like a fish out of water

Barry Smith

Won’t you please join me in supporting the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals?

It’s been quite awhile since SINA got much attention – since the early 1960s, when founder G. C. Prout Jr. and spokesman Alan Abel made the rounds of talk shows and staged demonstrations outside zoos.

Their cause? Too many animals walking around in public places without any clothes. It was scandalous.

Naked cows standing in pastures. Cats walking in residential neighborhoods where young children could see them. Public zoos with bare bears.

For about five years, SINA got donations and quite a bit of publicity. Most people, I think, realized it was a hoax. Or just chalked it up to people who are wacky enough to believe anything.

It was, of course, a big joke perpetrated by Abel, one of America’s best hoaxsters. The president of the organization was a then-unknown actor named Buck Henry. SINA stood for decades among the biggest stunts pulled on the American public and media.

Until now.

These days, we have PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Until recently, I believed PETA was a legitimate organization that went around with people in animal costumes trying to persuade us not to eat meat. Showing video of chicken slaughterhouses. Standing up for defenseless animals being used for research.

Boy was I red-faced when I saw the other day that PETA has now taken up the cause of fish.

“Fish are so misunderstood because they’re so far removed from our daily lives,” an Associated Press article quoted Karin Robertson, 24, manager of the Empathy Project. “They’re such interesting, fascinating individuals, yet they’re so incredibly abused.”

Oh, man. Buck Henry couldn’t have delivered that line with a straight face. I was rolling on the floor, clutching my sides.

It’s time to come clean now, PETA. Well-meaning folks are actually donating money to your group when they could be supporting real causes. The joke’s over. It was funny for awhile, sure. But how are you going to top the Empathy Project for fish?

Good question. Just how gullible is the American public? Maybe you can take a gullibility test and try to identify the real organizations from the ones I made up on the spot:

n Save the grass. The California Native Grass Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving grass. It’s mission: “To raise public awareness of the ecological importance and natural diversity of California’s native grassland ecosystems.”

n Save the mullet. The Mullet Militia is charged with protecting Mulligarchy, otherwise known as the Royal Family of Mullet. It teaches people how to recognize true mullets – hair cut longer in back, commonly associated with the 1970s and professional wrestlers – from fake mullets.

n Save the wave. Surfrider USA has been working to protect oceans, waves and beaches for 20 years. If you get sick while swimming or surfing in the ocean, you can report it to this organization.

n Marry an American. This group wants to help disillusioned post-election Americans flee to Canada. “Legions of Canadians have already pledged to sacrifice their singlehood to save our southern neighbors from four more years of cowboy conservatism,” they say.

n Spotting aliens. Malevolent Alien Abduction Research helps people who have been abducted either by aliens or by the military and promises to find answers to “troubling questions surrounding the enigma.”

n Changing of the seasons. Seasonal Affective Disorder Association is a support group for people who suffer from SAD, which is a tendency to become depressed during winter months, which may be caused by shorter days and lesser amounts of sunlight. “Symptoms include regularly occurring symptoms of depression (excessive eating and sleeping, weight gain) during the fall or winter months.”

OK, here’s the answer: I didn’t make up any of them.

However, a couple of them – the Mullet Militia and Marry an American – are jokes made up by other people. I think.

The rest of them are real organizations with real causes. And none of them, frankly, sounds as wacky as PETA’s attempt to persuade us to stop eating fish because we might be hurting their feelings. The fish’s feelings – not the folks at PETA, although I’m pretty sure they get upset when I make a tuna salad sandwich.

It’s just a matter of time before SINA sees how short-sighted it has been and starts a branch called Society for Indecency to Naked Fish. Next time I go fishing and hook a big one, it better be wearing a swimsuit.

Barry Smith is editor of the Nevada Appeal. Contact him at or 881-1221.