Posted on March 21, 2017
Penguin protest reveals group’s ignorance
According to the laws of the perverse liberal dreamworld in which we find ourselves living, concern is tantamount to expertise. Simply by declaring oneself to be an environmentalist, for example, and joining one of the approved activist groups, one is presumably imbued with knowledge of how much carbon dioxide should be in the atmosphere, what the mean temperature of the earth should be, and how many of which species belong in each geographical region.
This unearned expert status is often used by concerned liberals to dictate to the rest of us through the unquestioning liberal media. A member of the concerned class can go on television or to the newspapers and mindlessly warn that “climate change” is going to make Greenland disappear. Far be it for any non-activist to point out that Greenland is not made of ice. It is only the viewpoints of The Concerned that matter.
It is just this bias that causes the news media to amplify every complaint, however unserious or irrational, from People from the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Take, for instance, last month’s National Hockey League “Stadium Series” game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers at Heinz Field. As part of the festivities, the NHL arranged for a group of live penguins to be brought in for the fans’ amusement. At one point, some fireworks were set off, causing the birds to quickly waddle in the other direction, before turning and slowly walking back.
Being naturally concerned, PETA published an open letter, in which it claimed, “Public condemnation was swift after disturbing video footage was released showing penguins scrambling in terror after being paraded in front of a screaming Penguins-Flyers audience at Heinz Field and in close proximity to ear-splitting fireworks. A crowded arena is no place for animals, and as evidenced by the overwhelmingly negative response to the penguin promotion, it’s clear that the public does not support the abuse of animals for human entertainment. … It’s inherently stressful for wild animals – who naturally shun contact with humans and are extremely sensitive to environmental changes – to be hauled around, used as props, and exposed to noisy crowds, with or without explosives going off.”
The Pittsburgh Zoo, which supplied the animals at the NHL’s request, responded that the penguins are “very comfortable around people and noises.” So, whom are we to trust with the penguins’ welfare, the concerned and therefore knowledgeable liberal activists, or those stupid, stupid zoo people? There seemed to be little doubt among the media, especially Pittsburgh’s ABC affiliate, WTAE, which reported PETA’s complaint with all the prominence and authoritativeness with which it might treat the condemnation of a popular restaurant by the board of health.
A modicum of journalistic skepticism should have led any news editor to notice from the content of PETA’s letter that the group’s concerns were baseless, and therefore not newsworthy. For starters, there was no swift condemnation, nor any “overwhelmingly negative response” other than that in the letter itself. PETA’s claim that there was some massive, spontaneous viewer outrage is simply untrue.
Seeing that the penguins’ reaction to the fireworks only lasted a few seconds, the zoo’s characterization of them as “startled” seems more accurate than PETA’s claim that they had felt “terrorized.” After all, these penguins were not brought from Antarctica for this event. They live in Pittsburgh, and there are very few things we Pittsburghers enjoy more than watching stuff get blown up. Hardly a Saturday baseball game, outdoor concert or summer festival goes by in this city without the requisite fireworks display. So why should the penguins suddenly be “terrorized”? Had they seen the Monty Python penguin-on-top-of-the-telly sketch, and thought it would soon be time for them to explode?
Perhaps the most obvious flaw in PETA’s complaint is that penguins are not shy creatures that “naturally shun contact with humans.” To the contrary, their willingness to approach people is what makes them such a popular exhibit. Moreover, if penguins do experience terror, it’s in the wild, while watching each other get eaten by sea lions. The most significant impact that humans have had on penguins is to separate them from their natural predators. Don’t bother waiting for PETA to thank the zookeepers for providing the penguins with a peaceful existence, though.
This ill-considered protest is par for the course for PETA, which has a long and colorful history of extreme irresponsibility. So why do the media treat that group’s members as authorities on all things animal? Because they’re liberals, and they care.
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