COLUMN: PETA needs to pick battles

By Matt DeRosa

I’m sure you have heard about the victory PETA must be celebrating in the ban of foie gras in Chicago. Foie gras, if you aren’t aware, is French for fat liver and is a dish in which geese and ducks are force-fed to cause their livers to swell. Let me tell you, once you get the image of that tube shoved down the goose’s throat, it make it relatively easy to side with the birds and with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on this one.

However, sometimes groups get over-esteemed in their ideals. They let success go to their head and start taking on projects that are out of the realm of cause-worthy or logical, and instead fall under the category of just plain crazy and overzealous. I am referring to PETA’s protest of Six Flags Great America Amusement Park, not only up north in Gurnee, Ill., but their other locations around the country as well.

Why is PETA protesting Six Flags? Is it because they have gotten so wrapped up in animal rights they feel using Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny as mascots is unfair stereotyping of woodland creatures? No, thankfully they have not gone that far left of sane. PETA is protesting a contest Six Flags will be holding during Fright Fest 2006. As reported in the Chicago Sun-Times, patrons will receive a hopper pass which allows them to jump to the front of the line for any ride if they can eat and keep down “a live, three-inch Madagascar hissing cockroach.”

The park will also be inviting anyone in the public to an event on Oct. 13, where people can attempt to break the number of cockroaches eaten in one minute. The current record is 36 in case you’re raising an eyebrow in curiosity. It is currently held by Ken Edwards, a retired rat catcher from England.

Believe me, if you have free time, his story is worth looking up on the Internet. While his record is 36 live cockroaches eaten, the contest at Six Flags will be serving baked roaches instead.

But back to the topic on hand. It is astounding that this is what the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has deemed a cause worth standing up for. Jackie Vergerio, a spokeswoman for PETA, has claimed, “Six Flags is meant to be a safe place for family fun, not a place to teach children insensitivity to animals.” Let me reiterate the point: insensitivity to cockroaches. To quote the movie Zoolander, “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills” when it comes to understanding this one. PETA is against this contest because they fear children will get the idea that it is OK to mistreat cockroaches.

Quick poll to all my fellow students: Have you ever seen a cockroach in your apartment and not killed it or gotten someone to come in and spray to kill any other roaches possibly residing within?

I am going to assume the answer is no. This is what is hilarious about the politically correct response from Great America PR Manager Jim Taylor, who claims that people should know that roaches are high in protein and fat free. I think he is forgoing the more practical response I would have given: “They are cockroaches, and we really didn’t see anyone mourning them once they were gone.”

What is really confusing is that according to the Web site of the recently deceased Crocodile Hunter, cockroaches and crickets are used when feeding some species of birds.

So how about it PETA? You have no problem if people starve to prevent chickens, cows, and pigs from being eaten. Should we begin starving certain animals that eat insects since they now fall under your protective wing? Or is it finally time to admit you have overreached this time and need to pull back?