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No Pain No Gain for Fishermen Opposing PETA

Why The Facts Don't Matter To PETA


Joe with Kentucky Smallmouth

Article author caught this nice smallmouth in Kentucky

Ronnie Garrison
by Joe Haubenreich

Secret Weapon Lures

Contemplating changes to its animal protection law, Norway's government commissioned a study on pain. According to Reuters news service, earthworms' nervous systems are too simple to feel pain; their writhing on a fishhook is just simple reflex. Lobsters and crabs, likewise, experience no pain as they're dumped into pots of boiling water. Those conclusions were said to apply to most invertebrates.

This research was cited on cable TV news recently as scientific evidence that undermines PETA's position.

Anglers across America breathed huge sighs of relief. Many of us assumed we just won a major battle in the war to preserve our sport against animal rights activists. Around water coolers and across sporting goods counters, we congratulated ourselves on being right after all. Our bait and the fish we catch are incapable of "pain awareness," so there's no cruelty involved with damaging them. No pain, no foul. A lobster's "screaming" as it is boiled alive is just gas escaping, like the noise a steam kettle makes. Worms are too simple to feel pain, they just wiggle.

While that may be true, let's not celebrate too soon. Even if invertebrates (and perhaps fish) feel no pain, I doubt it will make any impact on people who oppose bait fishing or sway those sitting on the fence.

PETA and others of their ilk who would outlaw hunting and fishing understand that facts are not nearly as important as perception in the battle for the public's minds (and votes). "Pain" is not the point, but whether people associate their own pain with an animal's reflex to stimuli.

Animal rights groups are focusing their attack on sportsfishing now. Eventually, their agenda will broaden to oppose the killing of any animal. Their message is this: Recreational anglers cause needless pain to animals. And when anglers cause needless pain to bait or fish, they brutalize their victims and, in so doing, debase themselves.

Regardless of whether the worm or crawdad feels pain as it's impaled on a hook, a child who hooks the bait associates his own concept of pain with his actions. He attributes to the writhing animal his own pain response. Therefore, to bait his hook repeatedly, he must harden himself to causing pain in another creature and desensitize himself against caring about suffering in other creatures -- whether or not pain is actually being caused. Eventually, PETA posits, that lesson in how to turn off "caring about the pain of others" leads to desensitizing ourselves against the pain we cause in animals that do feel pain and also in people.

So the Oslo findings are not a setback to PETA's campaign. Since their argument about harming other living organisms is based on perception and not reality, they will continue to aim at the low-hanging fruit (hurting animals for sport), and move to more controversial targets (hurting animals for utilitarian reasons, like meat, hides, horns, and hooves).

If somehow they were to achieve their impossible dream of eliminating the killing of all animals, that would not satisfy them. Plant protection would be their next mission. It has long been recognized that plants respond to stimuli, silently "screaming" as brine shrimp are dumped to their deaths into a nearby pot of boiling water or as their own leaves or stems are clipped. PETA would just morph itself into PETL -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Life.

See part 2 of this article - What Should Anglers Do? >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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