Fish = Sea Kittens? Another Odd Campaign from PETA

Reflecting on the numerous times I’ve blogged about them, it’s clear that I have mixed emotions about the animal rights activist groups like PETA and the Humane Society. They have done a lot of important and laudable work, such as the fight over the California cheese ad campaign that “Happy Cows Come from California.” However, they have also undertaken some baffling projects that are funny but not in a good way, such as the protest over serving fish at an aquarium cafe (brought by PETA’s “Fish Empathy Project,” presumably the sponsor of the latest campaign), the effort to put a veggie chicken option on the KFC menu, a misdirected lawsuit against Amazon that’s preempted by 47 USC 230, PETA’s efforts to manufacture meat in vitro, and the ridiculous crusade against Internet hunting. (I’m also still grumbly about PETA v. Doughney, a terrible initial interest confusion case over “People Eating Tasty Animals” that distorted Cyberlaw for a few years before it was effectively overturned in the Lamparello case.)

The latest effort from PETA clearly falls into the “odd” category. Trying to raise awareness of the plight of fish, PETA is seeking to rebrand fish as “sea kittens”. Although I think the idea is that no one could every contemplate hurting or eating cute kittens, people will eat just about anything (1, 2, 3), so I wonder about the premise of the campaign.

I’m sympathetic the rebranding impetus that prompted this effort. Fish certainly don’t get the respect they deserve. I’m reminded of the lyrics from Nirvana’s Nevermind album that “it’s OK to eat fish cause they don’t have any feelings.”

But c’mon! There is a fine line between brilliance and insanity, and this effort IMO falls on the wrong side. Fish have nothing meaningful in common with kittens, and any attempt to import our positive feelings towards kittens and apply them to fish is so linguistically nonsensical that the branding has no chance of sticking. Instead, it just reiterates that PETA doesn’t speak for vegetarians like me. Sorry, guys, you’re on your own with this quixotic quest. Meow!

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