Say what you will about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The organization really knows how to attract attention to its cause of promoting vegan diets and animal welfare. However, that attention sometimes amounts to head-scratching, eye-rolling, laughter and “you-gotta-be-kidding” gasps, because of its far-out PR efforts.
A few years ago, the group was promoting an effort to have fish renamed “sea kittens,” so people would start seeing them as too “cuddly” to catch and eat. It didn’t catch on, but the effort got people talking about PETA … a lot. Granted, it was rarely with admiration or respect.
One of the most recent efforts of a PETA volunteer in Irvine has been a drive to get the city to erect a memorial sign commemorating the deaths of several hundred live bass in a traffic accident. It seems that a truck full of fish on its way to an Irvine market overturned at the intersection of Walnut and Yale streets — and while no humans were injured in the wreck, the fish were killed.
PETA’s proposed “memorial” road sign appears on page 24 of this issue.
The proposal has drawn numerous comments from locals, but not much support. Reactions in Orange County newspapers, on television and on the Web have ranged from outrage that officials might even consider a monument to slaughtered fish while most fatal-to-humans auto accidents are not similarly memorialized, to serious and concerned calls for fiscal restraint in paying for memorial signs, to laughter and shouts of “what will they think of next?”
A spokesman for the city of Irvine said there are no current plans to put up the fish memorial sign. However, PETA has already received a lot more nationwide publicity, thanks to just one seemingly outrageous local request.