PETA fishing for sympathy for ‘sea kittens’ | Misty Harris | Jan. 13, 2009

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has launched a marketing campaign to rebrand fish as “sea kittens,” a name the organization hopes will increase awareness and make the vertebrates more endearing to those who would eat them.

“A lot of people don’t realize that fish are capable of feeling fear and pain, that they develop relationships with each other, and even show affection by gently rubbing against one another,” says Ashley Byrne, PETA’s sea kitten campaign co-ordinator. “Knowing that the fish sticks in the school cafeteria are really made out of tortured sea kittens makes most kids want to lose their lunch.”

The advocacy effort, which also addresses environmental concerns about over-fishing, is the latest in a growing list of publicity campaigns by non-profits, conservationists and animal activists that treat “misunderstood” creatures – everything from cats to slugs and spiders – as if they were celebrities in need of better representation.

As a humourous entry on the sea kitten website states, “fish need to fire their PR guy-stat. Whoever was in charge of creating a positive image for fish needs to go right back to working on the Britney Spears account and leave our scaly little friends alone.”

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3 thoughts on “PETA fishing for sympathy for ‘sea kittens’

  1. This is hilarious. The Simpsons should definitely include a reference in their parody of American life. Sadly, with “sea kittens,” the writers do not even have to try hard.


  2. Though PETA is often extreme and frequently just silly in their approach, I don’t think it’s necessarily Christian to denigrate sympathy for non-human animals as mere secular humanism.

    Consider C.S. Lewis’s chapter on animal suffering in “The Problem of Pain”:

    The Christian defender … is very apt to say that we are entitled to do anything we please to animals because they ‘have no souls’. But what does this mean? If it means that animals have no consciousness, then how is this known? They certainly behave as if they had, or at least the higher animals do. I myself am inclined to think that far fewer animals than is supposed have what we should recognize as consciousness. But that is only an opinion. Unless we know on other grounds that vivisection is right we must not take the moral risk of tormenting them on a mere opinion.

    On the other hand, the statement that they ‘have no souls’ may mean that they have no moral responsibilities and are not immortal. But the absence of ‘soul’ in that sense makes the infliction of pain upon them not easier but harder to justify, for it means that animals cannot deserve pain, nor profit morally by the discipline of pain, nor be recompensed by happiness in another life for suffering in this. … ‘Soullessness’, in so far as it is relevant to the question at all, is an argument against vivisection.

  3. James K.:

    …I don’t think it’s necessarily Christian to denigrate sympathy for non-human animals as mere secular humanism.

    Then it is a good thing the author is not doing that. It is, however, perfectly valid (and not un-Christian) to criticize PETA for failing to differentiate between the value of human and animal life, and for redefining things (this time in a silly manner) for purposes of propaganda.

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