Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Lobster Lib comes to Maine--and Italy

Yesterday and today, PETA comes to New England with its Lobster Lib campaign. By campaigning in Portland and Bar Harbor Maine, PETA has come to the belly of the beast, as it were.

Apparently, according to today's NY Times, the lobster catch in the Gulf of Maine has been inexplicably plentiful recently--record-breaking, in fact--while the lobster population in Cape Cod and to the south of Massachusetts south languishes. So PETA must think, what better place to come to in order to discourage people from eating lobster than Maine? But people here are pretty hard-nosed (have a tough shell?) about their lobster. As long as they can't hear them scream when they die, into the pot they go.

But this doesn't stop the indefatigable PETA. I can't say I understand their need to champion the rights of invertebrates, but obviously PETA has a soft heart even for the lobster. Its "lobster lib" site makes it clear that PETA members are extremely unhappy about boiling lobsters alive--that's no surprise, really. But PETA is even sad about keeping them in tanks.

The site is filled with suggestions for PETA members and their sympathizers to try talk those in charge of lobster tanks into releasing them back to the wild, a plan which seems to have little to no chance of succeeding in New England, where lobster is exceedingly big business and traditional celebratory eating. As far as I can determine, the campaign for tank releases had its origins in an episode of the Ellen De Generes show. I can't imagine that many of the New Englanders I know will be signing up.

But residents of toney Reggio, Italy, seem to feel differently. They've even passed an ordinance banning the practice of boiling lobsters alive. This intrigued me--do the good people of Reggio even have access to lobsters? I looked it up on the map, and Reggio is not a coastal town.

So, what gives with Reggio? Is it the Italian headquarters of PETA? Well, sort of. According to this absolutely riveting article from the Telegraph, it's the town council, not the inhabitants of Reggio, who are the lobster protectors.

And it's not just lobster, either. About a year ago, according to the article, the town council passed, almost unanimously, an ordinance that just might qualify as the most PETA-friendly law on earth, and certainly one of the most absurd.

A few excerpts (but read the whole thing, as Glenn would say):

Under the bylaw, "sociable" birds such as budgerigars and parrots must be kept in pairs. Birdcages must be at least five times the bird's wingspan in width, and three times in height. It also makes it illegal to keep a goldfish in a round glass bowl.

But somehow, this is my favorite part:

Another clause requires owners to ensure that each pet sharing a meal gets an equal portion.

I can envision a certain problem with enforcement. But the councilors of Reggio certainly get the PETA golden leash award for effort.

So, what about it? Do lobsters feel pain in that pot? Unfortunately for the PETA folks (not that they care in the least), the best evidence from scientists indicates that the answer is "no." The study was done in Norway, but scientists in Maine were in agreeement:

The Norwegian report backs up a study in the early 1990s at the University of Maine and reinforces what people in the lobster industry have always contended, said Bob Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute, a research and education organization in Orono. "We've maintained all along that the lobster doesn't have the ability to process pain,'' Bayer said.

PETA claims Norwegian bias. What a surprise!

I think the final word on the question is this, from the same article: It's debatable whether the debate will ever be resolved.

Indeed. Until lobsters manage to speak to us in their death throes (or pet psychics channel them from beyond the grave), scientists will claim one thing and PETA folk the other.


At 11:53 AM, August 09, 2005, Blogger Joan said...

Ah, PETA. A nearly inexhaustible source of mockable material. I wish I were still on the East Coast so I could go and make fun of them.

Instead, I'll just savour the memories of the 4+ pound lobster I enjoyed with my family on our recent vacation.

At 12:08 PM, August 09, 2005, Blogger Solomon2 said...

Eat an Animal for PETA Day

At 12:49 PM, August 09, 2005, Blogger Goesh said...

My favorite is the element of the PETA camp that espouses humans were designed to be vegitarians. Did we really need frontal vision, upright posture, opposable thumbs, large brains and canine teeth to gather and eat bananas???

At 2:08 PM, August 09, 2005, Anonymous E.M.H. said...

"we really need frontal vision, upright posture, opposable thumbs, large brains and canine teeth to gather and eat bananas???"

ROTFL! I just got an image of an early group of cavemen holding spears sneaking up on a banana... then the banana bolts, and the cavemen run after it throwing their spears!

At 2:51 PM, August 09, 2005, Anonymous Joe Schmoe said...

While it is painful to admit this, I sort of agree with PETA on this one.

This seafood resteraunt in Santa Monica, Gladstone's, used to have something really disturbing. Think of those machines at the grocery store that are filled with children's toys. You pay a quarter and manipulate a robotic arm that is suspended from the top of the tank. If you manage to snare a toy with the arm, you get to keep it the toy.

Well, Gladstone's used to have the same thing -- with live lobsters! It was like $5.00, and if you managed to grab a lobster with the robotic arm they would cook it for you.

Tell me this doesn't seem wrong. Cruel. Immoral.

To this day, I can't stand the sight of live lobsters in the tank at the grocery store. Especially when their claws are taped shut so they cannot defend themselves. That is what bothers me the most -- the claws. At least let them go down fighting!

I know that lobsters are primitive animals. They may or may not feel pain (though PETA has some fairly convincing evidence on this point, at least if its site is to be believed.)

I still eat lobsters and enjoy every succulent morsel. But I do think we need to treat them with more dignity and find a humane way to kill them that does not involve boiling alive.

At 5:21 PM, August 09, 2005, Blogger Dr. Sanity said...

If only PETA could find it in their hearts to champion the rights of people.

At 5:44 PM, August 09, 2005, Blogger Paul said...

Of course the lobster population has fallen south of Maine. The striped bass population has rebounded due to conservation efforts and they love lobsters. A friend of mine caught a bass that coughed up, two one-pound lobsters and a pound and a half lobster. Now if PETA could just convince the fish that they should become vegetarians...

At 6:15 PM, August 09, 2005, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

Dr. Sanity, are you mad? PETA champion the rights of people?

We were all raised on children's books with talking animals. This is a relatively new phenomenon. There are talking animals in Aesop and Grimm, but they are not human substitutes. From Pooh to Berenstain Bears to Nemo, the current animal heroes have very human personalities. People in our society do not interact much with actual animals except as pets. Stuffed animals as companion toys only came into being around 1900. Contact with real animals provides a natural counterbalance to these fantasies (Don't get me wrong here -- I loved Wind in the Willows and Watership Down. But there seems to be a cost).

PETA is populated with those people who still believe that Sammy Squirrel and Billy Bass live rich, meaningful lives. Notice also, the activists seldom have children, which would be another natural counterbalance.

Remember the bumper sticker "Animals are just people in fur coats?" Bizarre. Case closed.

At 7:30 PM, August 09, 2005, Blogger Pancho said...

Generally liking animals more many people I've encountered, I have to say that I have always felt rather sorry for lobsters. Not in the PETA sense as they drop into the pot...but the ones entrapped in the fish tanks in the seafood dept. of the grocery. Poor souls with their claws rubber banded.

At 9:19 PM, August 09, 2005, Blogger Goesh said...

Yeah, e.m.h. that's quite an image you have conjured up about our ancestors chasing and spearing bananas. You've heard about PPP haven't you? The PETA Pacification Program? They are launching a new campaign after the lobster liberation gig is over. Their research and investigations have shown that humans, white male Americans in particular, have caused aggression in the rest of the animal kingdom, the big cats in particular. The big predator cats can be taught not to attack helpless gazelles and zebras and deer, and can be taught to relish soyburgers instead. Its been proven in PETA animal liberation shelters the world over. I alluded to this in a previous post but didn't elaborate at the time. The initial pacification procedures, the IPP part of the PPP, will necessarily have to involve our military, men who are used to facing danger. Rangers and SEALS and Green Berets will be lowered from long ropes from helicopters hovering over packs of lions and they will drop soyburgers into the big cat's mouths when they roar and open their jaws in aggressive posturing. Once lions and tigers learn to relish soy protein, Bambi and his buddies will be safe and liberated. It is quite simple, really, but is so revolutionary it is almost orgasmic. All we are saying is give peace a chance..........lalala

At 10:02 PM, August 09, 2005, Blogger Nuroneer said...

My GF shared your blog with me and being born and brought up in Maine, I laughed my a** off. I became an instant fan; but I'm definitely NOT a fan of Peta. I thought about offering to shoot any lobster I plan to eat in the future with my 30/06 but their brain would make too small a target. I would need something with more surgical precision. Thats when I came up with a deal I'd be willing to make with Peta. If they will provide me with a supply of the surgical awls that abortionists use to perform partial birth abortions, I will promise to stick it(but sterilized first of course)into the brains of every lobster before dropping them into a pot of boiling water. Seriously, I think its tragic that these misguided souls choose to put such a high value on animal rights when there is so much human suffering in the world. Priorities people.

At 10:19 PM, August 09, 2005, Anonymous johnfh said...

I have a more political observation to make. Reggio (Emilia) is a former bastion of the Italian Communist party. The same party and the same people who once supported Stalin and Togliatti one hundred percent. The same party and the same people who later supported Allende and Berlinguer and other approaches meant to combine socialism and democracy according to non-Soviet templates. The same party and the same people who later gave up calling themselves Communists altogether and started to think of themselves, albeit reluctantly, as socialdemocrats. The same party and the same people who now have nothing better to do than support PETAesque positions.

Bleached not white but pale green and pink by the vicissitudes of the shifting of the tectonic plates of political geography.

Those of us who self-identify as (neo) neo-cons or as liberal hawks have, to the contrary, become redder with each passing terror-filled day, and see green as a shade of yellow.

At 12:24 AM, August 10, 2005, Anonymous strcpy said...

"(though PETA has some fairly convincing evidence on this point, at least if its site is to be believed.)"

This is the problem - they can not. If you search around thier website you will eventually find two very funny and totally untrue things.

One is about vegan lifestyles for your pets. According to them, both dogs and cats live a fuller, healthier, longer, and happier life as vegans. And yes, the happier comes from them knowing they no longer have to kill others to live. Now, I don't know how much biology you know but dogs, and expecially cats, are carnivores. Not omnivores like us. They know this because they asked thier members if it were true, don't believe medical science.

Second, they have a pretty extensive "Jesus is a vegan and God outlaws killing animals". They have all sorts of quotes. Some they even flat out lie by cuting off the first part (and I'm going to paraphrase from memory) "one day people will come forth and say..." and cuting off the last part "...don't believe them - they are from satan". The middle reads like "People should never eat meat - to do so is a great cruelty and sin". That's not a simple misunderstanding. Last time I checked they also had a few quotes that didn't exist.

PETA has been caught getting jobs at meat processing plants and filming thier selfs killing the animals in a VERY cruel way. They did this to show how evil meat processing plants are (never mind not only did they totally violate the plants rules but got fired and fined for it). They run a few animal shelters and have a signifigantly higher kill rate than the other shelters. They have been known to kill captive animals because they thought the "Live free or die" rule sounded pretty good (PETA does this - and loudly claims it - around here from time to time to hunting dogs kept in fences).

You could write for pages upon pages about this stuff. Total disregard for accuracy, only a singleminded goal of "No killing or using of animals" and all else be damned.

They have some less than nutso members, some that hate the above tactics, some that hate them and deny they happen (though much of it is easily documentable and some on thier own website), and some that only see the name of the group and look no further. But the national hardliners you should never base any opinion on what they claim. They have said many many times that thier goal is so important that any tactic is reasonable (thier defense of the meat processing plant and other things).

At 7:19 AM, August 10, 2005, Anonymous Paul said...

I am for the ethical treatment of Maine lobstermen and I have a proposal to PETA. If you want to save the lobsters that the Mainers caught just pay them fair market value and I am certain they will release them. Now what could be more faair ?

At 10:29 AM, August 10, 2005, Blogger Goesh said...

Michele Malkin posts about PETA's doings in Conn. They were using huge, blown-up pictures of Blacks being mistreated and essentially comparing them to animals being mistreated - it really pissed off a bunch of people, the least of which were Blacks that were on hand

At 12:00 PM, August 10, 2005, Anonymous Rightwingtreehugger said...

I'm a newcomer here, and found your analysis the other day of the liberal mental disorder brilliant. So I'm hooked.

But am I correct that most of the people here are of the republican/conservative persuasion? It's kind of puzzling to me why we always hand the left the monopoly on environmental issues, when, termpermantally, green causes should be our turf. Conserving things instead of arrogantly trashing them, remember?

Sure, PETA makes an ass of itself in so many ways, but their heart is in the right place. What's wrong with trying to uphold a kind of chivalry (can't think of any other word) towards defenseless animals, at least to the point of trying not to inflict needless harm or suffering upon them?

At 12:45 PM, August 10, 2005, Blogger Bryan J Weitzel said...

"Another clause requires owners to ensure that each pet sharing a meal gets an equal portion."

Huh? So now humans are supposed to interfere in the natural politics of other species? I thought we interfered too much. I guess if you have two dogs, it is your duty to ensure that the Alpha dog treats the other dog fairly.

Next thing you know we'll have to start interfering in lion prides to ensure that the male lion does more of his fair share of the hunting and doesn't just assume that he has the right to eat first, damn misogynistic bastard.

At 12:52 PM, August 10, 2005, Blogger Joe Katzman said...

If you don't boil them alive, the alternative is to cut through their shell while still alive, then throw the tail and claws on the BBQ.

I wonder if PETA considers that progress?

At 1:26 PM, August 10, 2005, Anonymous strcpy said...

"Sure, PETA makes an ass of itself in so many ways, but their heart is in the right place. What's wrong with trying to uphold a kind of chivalry (can't think of any other word) towards defenseless animals, at least to the point of trying not to inflict needless harm or suffering upon them?"

Most everybody's heart is "in the right place". Pol Pot thought he was doing a favor for his people, Castro is making a utopia, Hitler was saving the human race.

Good intentions, even if that is what PETA has, mean very little if nothing else you do has any redeming value, or even worse (as in PETA's case) is destructive of both general society and thier own broad stated goals.

At 3:23 PM, August 10, 2005, Anonymous Nikolaides said...

"What's wrong with trying to uphold a kind of chivalry (can't think of any other word) towards defenseless animals, at least to the point of trying not to inflict needless harm or suffering upon them?" asks rightwingtreehugger.

If that were all PETA were after, I'm sure most reasonable people would support them. Unfortunately, they go far, far beyond that. You are talking about animal welfare, while what PETA wants is animal rights -- that is, no ownership of animals, no eating of animals, no use of animals in medical research (not just no cruel or painful use in research --no use at all. It's better for people to die unnecessarily, PETA believes, than for an animal ever to be a research subject even under the most humane conditions.)

PETA's positions are based on a profound ignorance of animals and an assumption that animals want all of the same things that people want. You won't find many people who actually live and work with animals who believe that this is true -- but then again, you won't find many PETA members who have spent a lot of time living and working with animals other than a few pets, either.

Ironically, if the no-ownership idea were to succeed, the result would probably be the deaths and extinctions of most of the animals we know today. How many cows do you suppose would still be around 10 years after farmers stopped feeding, sheltering, and protecting them? How many horses? How many of the endangered animals that now mostly survive in zoos because their wild habitats are gone? Cats and dogs would survive and multiply on their own -- but just think how many would die neglected, lonely, hungry deaths if they could no longer be "companion animals" to people -- a ridiculous euphemism if I ever heard one! I have yet to hear any member of PETA address this issue.

At 3:39 PM, August 10, 2005, Anonymous Independent George said...

It's kind of puzzling to me why we always hand the left the monopoly on environmental issues, when, termpermantally, green causes should be our turf. Conserving things instead of arrogantly trashing them, remember.

Slightly off-topic, but that's the exact opposite of my vision of conservative environmentalism. You seem to be treating enironmentalism as a moral issue (that it should be 'conserved' in its native) rather than a resource management issue (evaluate the costs & benefits of various scenarios, and evaluate based on efficiency). It's the difference between saying, "We must reduce emissions" and "We must optimize our emissions per unit of production."

At 5:53 PM, August 10, 2005, Anonymous strcpy said...

" It's the difference between saying, "We must reduce emissions" and "We must optimize our emissions per unit of production.""

Another usual difference is also based on perspective. Much of the environmentalist rhetoric is relataivly focused. Say, for instance, reducing car emiisions and greenhouse gasses. People who want this, and are passionate about it, are usually on the left. They gain quite a bit of national respect because of thier passion.

The main issue is that if those ideas are really effective. Note that in those goals "effective" and "Overall environment" are not an issue. There are two great examples.

First is electric cars - great on out of the tailpipe emissions. But, total cost of ownership is horrid in most areas. Most areas use coal for production, you loose energy each time it goes through a transformation, and you loose energy in transporting it over distance. End result is *more* pollution, just not from your tail pipe. It is arguable if they safe for other types (wind, nuclear, and hydroelectric)

Second is greenhouse emission. When I was in highschool (about 10 years ago), and I still see it sometimes, is a push for things like geothermal and wind. While these do produce less greenhouse gasses geothermal produces sulfuric gas (which produces rael acid rain - sulfuric acid to be exact) and enough wind turbines to power the country will sap too much energy out of the atmosphere causing quite a few weather related "incidinces" (such a droughts and such). While, yes, that reduces greenhouse gases you then get a great combination of the air either dropping sulfuric acid, no rain, and if you do both then no rain and air that forms sulfuric acid in your lungs when you breath. Personally I'll choose what we have now. Plsu for large scale solar the waste products from producing the cells is some pretty nasty stuff. Many of these alternatives work great on a small scale (hydroelectric and wind are to really good examples), but fail when everyone does it.

Ironically, the cleanest today is nuclear. The problem with things like three mile island were inflated by the press who didn't know what they were talking about, Chernobyl was gross negligence and an ovveride of multiple safetey systems (many of which can not be overrided in our plants - because we knew it would cause such a thing). The waste material can be safely stored now and the vast vast majority of it is reusable in either other reactors or in medical sciences. But out environmentalist see "nuclear" and go apeshit.

That analysis also tends to be the difference between left and right environmentalist. When I worked at Oak Ridge National Labs it was amusing hearing the two sides argue. The leftis never claimed the other side was wrong (that those issues were not present), never claimed that the greenhouse gasses were worse, just that they had to be reduced and were bad and that if you wanted to reduce them that was the only way (which is also true - and comes back to focus).

At 7:16 PM, August 10, 2005, Anonymous Nikolaides said...

Many of the most passionate environmentalists I know marched against nuclear power when they were younger. For a while there, it was quite fashionable to get arrested while protesting at a nuclear power site. I know lots of people who did that. (They used up lots of gasoline getting to and from the protests and their subsequent court dates, of course, since most plants are located in fairly remote areas. Well, they certainly weren't going to WALK there!) The protesters were very successful in strangling new nuclear power construction, and they got quite a few existing plants closed down. As a result, for a couple of decades we have burned much more coal for energy than we otherwise would have -- and we'll have to keep doing so for quite some time.

I wonder how many of those "no-nukers" have ever stopped to ask themselves how much of today's greenhouse effect problem might have been avoided, or at least minimized, if they hadn't stopped the development of nuclear energy. Do they ever stop blaming the "selfish greedy Republicans" for our environmental problems long long enough to glance into the mirror and think honestly, for just a moment, about their own responsibility?

At 9:42 AM, August 11, 2005, Anonymous Independent George said...

To be fair, the right is not without its faults here. First, there is a tendency to fall back to the 'Kyoto is a bad treaty' or 'cutting emissions means cutting economic growth' without further thought. I agree with both statements, but left unanswered are the questions, "What constitutes a good emissions treaty?", and "What is the optimal balance between emissions and growth"? It's just as wrong to ignore the negative effects of pollution as it is to ignore the positive effects of growth. The Republicans don't get a free pass on this one.

Second, the anti-tax rhetoric on the right also leads to some major economic inefficiency. Case in point: regulating fuel efficiency on the auto industry as a whole, instead of directly taxing fuel consumption. We regulate the average fuel efficiency of a manufacturer's entire fleet of vehicles, which forces them to limit consumer choice and subsidize the production of loss-leading vehicles to ensure that average fuel efficiency meets federal regulations. This somehow manages to be bad for the producer, bad for the consumer, and bad for the environment, all at the same time.

At 11:48 AM, August 11, 2005, Anonymous rightwingtreehugger said...

@strcpy, Nikolaides:
But that's my point. By our default, the loonies and whackos own the issue, turn it into the silly and laughable, and the animals pay. I'm pretty familiar with the Portland area of Maine, very pc. Now and then I toy with the idea of running for office on a platform of capital punishment for people who are cruel to animals. I bet I'd do surprisingly well with the PETA types there, who would be enchanted by a little rightwing rigor brought to the subject. The animals sure would! (though whether to hang people for lobster cookouts would be a real head scratcher if it came up in debate.)
@Independent George :
"You seem to be treating enironmentalism as a moral issue
(that it should be 'conserved' in its native) rather than a resource management issue (evaluate the costs & benefits of various scenarios, and evaluate based on efficiency). "
Interesting point. I hadn't thought of it that way, but, yeah, I do think environmentalism is a moral issue, or more accurately, a moral litmus test. By that I mean that to be conservative is to be very shy about squandering things that have been around a lot longer than we, be it laws or institutions or the planet itself. Intuitively, don't you feel there's a kind of Hippocratic Oath to 'first do no harm' that conservatism swore and its political opposite didn't? Hence the subsidiary traits of frugality, husbandry, respect for the time honored. I'm no economist or scientist, but nukes, for example, seem to fall on the right side of that oath in that they're so scary nobody dares to play the fool with them.
Sorry for being so long winded.

At 3:36 AM, August 12, 2005, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

Courtesy Boortz…


I think the PETAphiles are pretty close to the prime examples of hypocritical scum.

I think my favorite example was Charlotte Ross, an attractive actress from the TV Series NYPD Blue. She once did one of PETA’s “I’d rather be naked than wear fur” spots.

Some time later, she pops up on an SPCA/Humane Society TV spot, advising people to “Spay or neuter your pets”.

Why? Mainly for the convenience of pet owners...

Yeah, "The animal will feel better".

I'm quite sure the members of PETA would do better, live longer, if they had their gonads removed (actually removed, not mentally)... strange they aren't queueing up for the procedure.

Now, I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that the right to your reproductive organs is certainly one of the most basic.

I’m not saying there is something wrong with fixing your animals, but if they DO have rights, that would certainly be one of the most significant… There’s a serious disconnect going on, there.

At 3:50 AM, August 12, 2005, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

This stupid editor blows.

Link Here

At 3:56 AM, August 12, 2005, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

Chernobyl was gross negligence and an ovveride of multiple safetey systems (many of which can not be overrided in our plants - because we knew it would cause such a thing).

Actually, Chernobyl had NOTHING to do with commercial power generation in the West. NOT ONE THING

All western commercial power generation systems are pressurized water reactors (PWR). They use water as both a coolant and as a partial moderator (something to control the reaction speed).

Chernobyl (and many Russian reactors) was a carbon moderated reactor(CMR)... much like the very first one ever built under the squash court by Fermi & Co.

Now, the thing to realize is that, back in the 1950s (!) with the 1950s attitude towards radiation, the scientists of the West rejected the CMR design on the grounds that it was unsafe. Right.

By --50s-- standards, it was unsafe.

The real answer lies in the moderator, and it showed with spectacular effectiveness its problem at Chernobyl.

The "carbon moderator" is in the form of charcoal.

Yes, charcoal.

Think about that. You've got a device you're going to heat up considerably, and has at least a potential to heat up uncontrollably -- and you're going to surround it with Bar-B-Q Briquettes!!!

...And the picture now in your head is exactly what happened. The system overheated, the charcoal caught fire, burned ragingly out of control, and this broke containment AND the fire provided a spectacularly effective means of releasing radiation into the environment... think about the smoke prevalent after a series of brush fires, all contaminated with radioactive carbon as well as radioactive particulates from the melting reactor.

Now, what this decision says about the concern of the supreme Soviet government for the safety of its peoples (and thus about communism/socialism and its wonderful "compassion") is left to the reader. Someone may attempt to argue with it being an isolated incidence of poor judgement, but, if you look for it, you will see such a systemic lack of concern for the environment and the people (Kishtym, Chechoslovakia!!) that the proper conclusion is undeniable.

At 2:26 AM, January 23, 2006, Anonymous Atkins said...

From what I can see, not many blogs talk about stuff like chopper air cleaners and that is sad. I think your blog is great that way.

keep it up.


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