Politics & Policy

Hey Peta, Eat This!

A Thanksgiving tale.

Each year around Thanksgiving, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals makes the evening news with some new campaign to get people to stop eating turkey. This year PETA wants me to believe that if I enjoy my annual serving of turkey at Thanksgiving, then I’m probably going to get the Asian bird flu. In order to make sure I’m aware of the threat, PETA members will “lie naked in flower-decorated coffins outside the Department of Agriculture“–just in case I walk by. As an alternative, PETA says I should ingest something called “tofurkey.”

Although I’ll pass on the tofurkey, I would like to thank PETA for its sincere concern for my health and in return, offer up a little Thanksgiving anecdote sure to warm the cockles of their turkey-loving hearts.

We show up at the ranch pretty early–usually before dawn–to start setting up for the turkey shoot. For me, that involves standing around, drinking coffee and trying to avoid any actual work. Slowly, folks from all over start trickling in–greeting friends, trying to stay warm, and setting up tents where they’ll serve barbeque, tamales, and beer for the rest of the day.

Still others take out their rifles and start sighting in at the firing range. At the end of the range is a ditch. Pretty soon, if I’m working at the shoot, I have to take the four-wheeler down to the ditch and help set up. That involves taking a live turkey out of a trailer full of them, zip-tying its legs, and putting it in a wooden box with just its head sticking out. Another zip-tie holds the head in place, and then the box goes on top of a platform in the ditch so that just the turkey’s head and neck stick up over the top.

It’s $1 a shot. If you hit a turkey, it’s yours. Same rules apply to the archery range nearby.

A man and his wife are on the scene to clean your turkey and bag it. Local people get a turkey for (if they’re good shots) less than they otherwise would have paid. Sometimes, if they’re lucky, they can make two and have a Christmas turkey also. In addition, the proceeds from the shoot go to community organizations and charities. And it’s a whole lot of fun. Everybody wins!

Of course, I understand that the folks at PETA might not see it that way. Let me see if I can anticipate their objections and offer rebuttals.

1. The turkeys don’t stand a chance: True, but neither do they stand a chance when they’re lined up for the chopping block. At least this way is a bit more sporting.

2. It’s not sporting at all: Okay, PETA, let’s see you hit a target the size of a lemon from 100 yards.

3. What happens if the turkey doesn’t die right away?: The box sort of explodes with wing-flapping, at which point one of us has to run out and drag it down and take the turkey out of the box and strangle it.

4. You’re a sick freak: That may be true, but which one of us parades around in the nude on the sidewalk in front of the Department of Agriculture? Which, due to its proximity to the Smithsonian museums, is heavily trafficked by small children?

5. Yeah, but–: Speaking of children, PETA activists have always targeted this demographic in an attempt to alienate children from their parents and create a new generation of carnivore-hating radicals. The latest salvo in this effort is a series of comic books like “Your Daddy Kills Animals,” featuring a villainous father hoisting a fish in the air and slicing it open with knife. The books contain graphic images and passages like, “Imagine that a man dangles a piece of candy in front of you. … As you grab the candy, a huge metal hook stabs through your hand and you’re ripped off the ground. You fight to get away, but it doesn’t do any good… That would be an awful trick to play on someone, wouldn’t it?”

Probably the best thing about the turkey shoot is that there aren’t any PETA weirdoes in the part of Texas where we have it, so no one has to put up with college students in a giant fish costumes calling us murderers or naked protesters telling us that Thanksgiving is worse than the Holocaust (unless, of course, we venture too close to Austin). I’ll be going back there soon for a little break from the p.c. circus, and that’s something for which I’m very, very thankful.

Stephen Spruiell reports on the media for National Review Online’s new media blog.

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