Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hey PETA: Keep Your Politics Away from Our Super Bowl

"I'm a level five vegan—I don't eat anything that casts a shadow."Jesse Grass, The Simpsons

Man, you gotta love the week of media gluttony leading up to the Super Bowl. It's the press's last chance of the season to gorge itself at the National Football League banquet. I don't mean to discount the Pro Bowl because it's obviously must-watch fare, but it's tough to follow up what has become America's most-beloved single day in its favorite sport.

What makes this last week even better is that everything that could possibly be relevant to the game has already been covered in the previous week of inactivity.

That means the really ridiculous, turn-you-stomach stuff that makes you a little ashamed to be an avid sports fan comes out this week. The Xs and Os have been hashed to death. The on-field exploits of the participants have been introduced, repeated, and beaten into the ground. So all that's left is the seedy underbelly of political crossover, scandal, and pop-culture hybridization.

Oh man, someone pass the Pepto 'cause I'm feelin' queasy.

My favorite so far has been this stellar little bit from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. It's kind of the political equivalent to shooting yourself in the thigh while dancing the night away at a club in Manhattan. That lovable crusader for animal rights apparently had an ad pulled that promoted vegetarianism as another avenue to better sex. If NBC's (the station that will air the Super Bowl and refused to use the ad) description is to be believed, the clip showed scantily clad lingerie models vaguely simulating autoeroticism.

Look, I've lived in San Francisco for pretty much my entire adult life. I spent a year in Austin, Texas and the rest either inside the City proper or in the immediate Bay Area.

That means I've had more than my share of first-hand experiences with two things relevant to this tempest in a teapot:

1. Vegetarians, vegans, and fructarians (I'm not kidding, these people won't eat food that requires harming a plant for its production) as well as any other PETA-types.

2. Public display and discourse of sexuality.

This doesn't make me enlightened or better than those of you in the middle of the country—I'm not one of those who is thoroughly convinced reason in America has been pulled to its coasts. I'm just saying it to give some pertinent context.

Because I loathe PETA and organizations like it (not everyone who subscribes to them, just the political entities).

I hate any group that so arrogantly believes the lifestyle it condones is the only appropriate lifestyle because the truth is that NOBODY knows what the appropriate lifestyle is. Those groups just think they have the straight dope on what is what and they are really, really loud about sharing their opinions.

But trust me—all the volume in the world doesn't make opinion fact.

The reality is those people don't know any better than you or I. Not the Republicans and their blindly devout evangelicals. Not the Democrats and their rabid environmentalists. Not the NRA. Not the ACLU. And definitely not PETA.

Before those PETA-sympathisers out there deny that's what the ORGANIZATION advocates, look at its jackass spokesperson's quote on the subject of its ad being pulled:

"PETA's veggie ads are locked out, while ads for fried chicken and burgers are allowed, even though these foods make Americans fat, sick and boring in bed."

Hmmm. Does it sound like this moron leaves any room for debate on the subject? Think this dude would engage in a reasoned debate on the merits of the alternative lifestyles?

Furthermore, how is that little byte gonna help advance your cause?

I'm a reasonable person; it's almost impossible to offend me and I'd willingly enter my thick skin in any contest to find the thickest out there. So, even as a meat-eater and lover of fried chicken, this kind of nonsense doesn't bother me. But it sure doesn't make me the slightest bit sympathetic to PETA.

And if I'm extreme in my tolerance for insult, how about all those carnivores below me on the tolerance totem pole? Think they're gonna be sending in their PETA contributions any time soon? After all, according to Mr. Einstein-Public-Relations-Man, we're all sick and boring our mates when the lights go off and/or the handcuffs go on.

I get his point. I get that fast food is currently a greater danger to our country than sexual abandon. I get that other products use sexual innuendo far blunter than that (apparently) used by PETA. I get the frustration.

I don't get the arrogance and delusion about subjects as nebulous as diet and lifestyle. I don't get the incredible condescension slathered on those with differing opinions regarding topics of eternal interest.

And I really don't like the timing.

Sports and politics necessarily mix and I think that can often be a very good thing.

But this is the Super Bowl. This is the pay-off for a season of loyalty, disappointment, and redemption.

Keep your damn dirty hands off.

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