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PETA wants to rename fish "sea kittens"

Goldfish or Sea Kitten?

Pity the humble goldfish (and his cousins the salmon, trout and tuna).  They're suffering, according to PETA, from a serious image problem.  And PETA is aiming to fix that through a new campaign -- one that, they hope, will cause people to think of undersea creatures as they think of their beloved mammalian pets.  From the campaign's website:

People don't seem to like fish. They're slithery and slimy, and they have eyes on either side of their pointy little heads -- which is weird, to say the least. Plus, the small ones nibble at your feet when you're swimming, and the big ones -- well, the big ones will bite your face off if Jaws is anything to go by.

Of course, if you look at it another way, what all this really means is that fish need to fire their PR guy -- stat.

The campaign's aim?  To rename fish "sea kittens."  In an interview with NPR's Anne Hillman, PETA campaign coordinator Ashley Byrne explains:

"Fish not only have the same ability to feel pain as a dog or a cat, but they also communicate with one another," she says. "They have complex social interactions; they form bonds; they express affection by gently rubbing against one another...

"Most parents would never dream of spending a weekend torturing kittens for fun with their families, but hooking a sea kitten through the mouth and dragging her through the water is the same as hooking a kitten through the mouth and dragging her behind your car," Byrne says.

The Sea Kitten campaign launched in North Carolina, but PETA plans to expand it across the nation, according to NPR.  And they've already asked South Dakota's Spearfish High School to change its name to "Sea Kitten High School."

What do you think -- is this a step too far?  Or do our finned friends need an image overhaul?

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (27)

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I heard this interview. And the decision to provide scarce airtime to this ridiculous extremism - when there is so much else that needs coverage - is enough to drive even a multi-decade NPR supporting center-left democrat bonkers. It is evidence of why Day-to-Day is going off the air.

Let's also be clear for once: there is no such thing as 'animal rights.' Rights do not exist out in the world. It is not possible to go into the woods and collect a basket full of rights. Rights are human inventions. They are social constructs. What scholars refer to as institutional facts. Unlike trees, grass, dirt, and oxygen (etc.) that will always be, when humans fade from this planet, so will all rights. Rights do not exist apart from human society.

In addition, a right must be claimed by its bearer. Non-human animals do not claim such rights; more to the point, they do not operate according to or recognize a system of rights. There has never been a case in which a zebra protested its death to a lionness as a violation of its right to life. Animals operate according to survival instincts and hierarchies of power, for both intra and interspecies relations.

The relationship between humans and other animals is not rights-based because there are no animal rights. We can't even agree on human rights, for goodness sakes. If there is an overarching relationship between humans and animals it is duty-based not rights-based. It is deontological. What duties toward the external natural world do we recognize as originating in and emanating from our own constructed moral code? NOT what behavior do their intrinsic rights impose upon us?

We have a duty to treat animals as well as we can; they have no rights to call upon us to do so.

I wonder how many innocent bacteria she killed during that interview?

Okay, so with the economy going down hill, let's add more stress to it and take away more jobs by getting rid of the fishing industry? Will peta pay their unemployment? What about the people that fish in third world countries, apparently peta doesn't think they need to eat.

Very well written Matthew Woods. When I first read 'animals have no rights', I thought to myself, "Of course they do". But after reading the rest of your post, you make absolute perfect sense.

Although, admittedly, I sometimes live in a bubble of idealism and fantasy with thoughts that my cats love me just as much as I do them, I am often brought back down to earth when reality takes over and I realise that this may not be the case. They're cold so they need a warm lap to sleep on. They're hungry so they need food. I happen to be the one that provides this. Whether they simply recognise that I will do their bidding or whether they like to show me they love me by smooching up to me, who knows. Most likely the former, but occasionally I like to think it's the latter.

The point is, as you state, it is our duty to ensure that they have what they need for survival. It is not their right to receive it.

the real problem is that the world is being overrun by cats & dogs, which are essentially glorified parasites

I applaud peta for trying to shift the paradigm

Lets face it. This isn't news. This is the pathetic blubbering of fanatics and 13 year old girls who are still stuck on the mental picture of dead baby cows.

The fortunate thing is that in our world, people who banish themselves to the outskirts of society with preposterous, intellectually bankrupt ideas also remove themselves from any sphere of influence.

While it's wonderfully amusing to think that my trout has whiskers and a cute button nose and is now a "sea kitten," that isn't going to change what I order for dinner.

Look on the bright side. PETA employs a lot of people who would probably be worthless in any legitimate mainstream economic sector, so their existence and role in this sort of garbage is no great loss.

They will never convince the American people of anything, so for now, it serves well as a nice piece of comic literature.

What sound does a sea kitty make anyway?

Fish don't have feelings.

PETA aren't very bright.

You sir are amphibious. Also, please join my new activist's group PETOPS (People for the Ethical Treatment Of Plants, Seriously). Please give these noble sedentary creatures the respect and freedom they deserve.

I happen to love SEA Kittens.... Blackened with a side of shrimp and grits, some cole slaw, hush puppies and a cold beer.

Matthew Woods says "a right must be claimed by its bearer." Really, so what of infants or brain-function imparied individuals? They have no concept of "rights" - nor do they claim any - Can I violate them needlessly because of this? Animals do have "rights" - to be left alone... It's just that man through his endless greed refuse to recognize these "rights".

"We have a duty to treat animals as well as we can"... Of course this is predicated on what "needs" we justify to exploit them. Name the animal and I can tell you how man "justifies" use and abuse to that animal. Man insists he's kind to animals - using & killing them only when "necessary". Yet, we see - the majority of animals are "used" in the most trite and silly of ways.

Does man truly "need" rodeos? Circuses? Zoos? Leather? Meat? NO. But because we are too lazy to utilize alternatives we continue with these practices saying they are "necessary". It is moral dissonance. We don't want to admit the truth - that indeed we are very cruel to animals without genuine, real cause.

Tara... the economy was also used as "justification" to keep Indians, slaves, children and women confined to their given status. If something is "wrong" to do - pragmatically excusing it for monetary gain doesn't make it "right".

Ben: "They will never convince the American people of anything". No, people will convince themselves - There is no logic that says it's "okay to harm animals who suffer and feel pain the same way we do". More people are becoming aware of this everyday and are making compassionate Vegan choices. It's all a matter of time.

Has the world gone mad? I raised my boys fishing and now have a 7mo old daughter which I will take along too. We have made memories that will last a lifetime and have bonded in ways that can't be described. PETA is a bunch of wackos! My sons and I practice catch and release with Bass but that's just because they aren't all that great to eat. Who the hell cares even if fish did have feelings? I have feeling too and mine are hunger! I don't think they will succeed in making fishing go away but EVEN if they did someone would have have to take my rod from my cold dead hands :) Sound familiar?

I'm sorry, but PETA just looks stupid now. Not that they didn't sometimes before, its just this is a new level. I'm all for protecting endangered species and stuff, but humans are part of the ecosystem too, and trying to end all human consumption of meat - as PETA seems to hope to do - would seemingly be just as much a threat to the ecosystem as many of the things that PETA tries to stop.

I believe PETA is very efficient. They very effectively destroy any sympathy people have for animals by going so extreme. Humans are omnivores. I would like to see PETA telling a bear that the salmon its eating should be called a "sea kitten." Animals should be treated with compassion, but they would kill and eat us if given the chance. Why on earth should we do any different to them?

Mmmmmm, sea kittens and chips. Fried sea kitten. Poached sea kitten amandine. Grilled seakitten. Raw sea kitten sashimi with soy sauce.

Fish are food. Kittens are pets. PETA's real agenda is to get people to become entirely vegan. Good luck with that.

A couple things PETA didn't consider:

1. Not all fish live in the sea. Therefore to call them "sea kittens" would be misleading. You would think that a group obsessed with animals would know that.

2. Some fish live past the age of maturity and therefore are no longer kittens. Therefore to call them "sea kittens" would be misleading. You would think that a group obsessed with animals would know that.

3. Calling fish "sea kittens" would give real kittens a bad name.

Is the air in LA so bad that the people there are so oxygen starved that it's affecting their brain capacity?

anyone want some sea kitten steaks for dinner tonight?

Wait a minute... Don't kittens eat fish?

This article really made me laugh out loud!!!!

Go take a hike Peta!

Whatever next?

Giant african land puppies?

To Bea Elliott -
'There is no logic that says it's "okay to harm animals who suffer and feel pain the same way we do".'

There is no logic to say that it's not okay to harm animals. There is actually nothing out there that tells you what you should or shouldn't do.
This is related to Matthew Woods' point that rights are a human construct, we agree on the rules of how we treat each other then try to stick by them.

There is no such thing as an inherently wrong act, simply whatever you believe to be wrong, or whatever happens to be wrong in the framework of law by which you have agreed to abide.

Fear not my fellow countrymen, I am currently working on a plan with MY congress to solve the Sea Kitten problem. MY plan is to fund research, development and education for the valuable sea kitten industry by infusing $8 BILLION as a part of Barack Obamas get back to work program. This is a wonderful idea that our friends at PETA have come up with and we hope to create a million more jobs with this passage.

This is maybe the most embarrassing campaign that PETA has ever run, and that's saying something in light of past actions including (but not limited to): a campaign asking "Are animals the new slaves?" a brochure telling children that "Your mommy kills animals!" and statements comparing animal killing, for whatever reason, including consumption, to the Holocaust.

Yes, all of these really happened.

I'm all for stopping cruelty to animals and preserving endangered species, but this has obviously gone too far. Nothing is wrong with responsible fishing, and if you want a new name for fish, its NOT SEA KITTENS, but rather SEA FOOD.

The PETA idiots who thought of this should be eaten by a bear; even animals have the common sense to realize that what they are doing is perfectly natural - THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH EATING ANIMALS.

im a member of PETA just like everyone else on here that has made comments about this sea kitten crap!

People Eating Tasting Animals!

PETA couldn't care less about actual cats; therefore, trying to rename fish "sea kittens" is pathetically hypocritical of them.

Humans are hardly the only animals that eat fish. Does PETA plan on harassing seals and dolphins next?

All in all, my theory about PETA stands: They're less concerned with protecting any given species of animal than with shaming one in particular.

In conclusion: This garbage makes me want to go get fish and chips. Preferably, enough to share with my cats.

First it was treehuggers now seakitten lovers is insect idolism next???

I fish for kittens daily. I find that deep sea of the local neighborhood dumpster is an especially productive fishing hole. In fact, I hereby announce the start of my campaign to rename a reclassify kittens as fish.

I do believe that this is an acceptable way to try and reform the way that people think about animals. PETA gets a bad rep for it's extremism but they know how to get the attention of people, that's for sure. They're looking out for those who cannot speak for themselves. Telling them that's wrong says something about us.

PETA is so concerned about a cold blooded creature that is quite low on its level of sophistication (brain capacity etc.), but the VAST majority (if not nearly all of their members are fully comfortable with the murder of fully formed unborn human beings. If they can't get their priorities in order, they will remain a laughing stock. Maybe we should rename the unborn - human kittens.


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