Mason County News
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The $32 Million Groundhog
Tuesday, February 2, 2010 • Posted February 2, 2010

People often send me stories about the gooberheads at peta, a group that is, for me, a never-ending source of column material. For over twelve years I’ve been pointing out the stupidity of these human punching bags. It stands to reason I’d get tired of it after a while. I wonder why I don’t.

Upbraiding President BO a while back for swatting a fly got peta a lot of attention, and pointed out their knotheadedness to the few people in America who still took them somewhat seriously. But peta is a persistent bunch. They don’t want almost everyone in the country thinking they’re idiots. They want it clear to all.

To that end the space cadets have lately been at it again, advertising their particular brand of insanity, making it clear that common sense is just not for everyone. Their latest shenanigans are a constant reminder that, no matter how pointless our lives may seem, there are always people out there who have it worse.

Every twelve months or so peta names its man and woman of the year, someone who has shown a remarkable unwillingness to conform to society and act like a normal human. The curse of political correctness allows these people to continue to function in our society as if they were normal people, and peta is drawn to such wackos.

The peta 2008 woman of the year was Oprah Winfrey. I have no idea what Winfrey did to deserve recognition, but I’m sure, considering the strange ideas she’s famous for, she deserved it.

The 2009 peta woman of the year honor was bestowed on Ellen DeGeneres, for using her television show to encourage vegetarianism, and to admonish her three fans to give up animal products. Which is the kind of thing you can expect from these Hollywood types.

The man of the year for 2009 is Tim Gunn who, despite having a pretty cool name, is a fruitcake. He’s a fashion designer who constantly tries to tell people what to wear. I don’t know what he did to deserve the peta award, but anyone who thinks fashion is important, for any reason, is suspect in my book. He calls normal people, like me, ‘fashion challenged.’ I looked him up on You Tube and couldn’t get through even one video. He’s too annoying.

Ingrid Newkirk, peta’s president and founder, claims that people have been changing their purchasing habits because Gunn and DeGenerate "spoke up for the voiceless." Maybe so. It sure makes me want to go buy a large, juicy steak.

Doug Jeanneret, vice president of marketing for the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, said, "Television stars and fashion designers may be thrilled to receive this dubious distinction from peta but to most people it means very little. The vast majority of Americans would consider any ‘honor’ from this group as idiocy." And well they should.

But, despite the irritation involved, naming certain weirdos as poster children for a cause is pretty benign. It doesn’t hurt anyone, just helps regular folks realize why they don’t want to belong to such an uneducated group. Unfortunately, peta is involved in plenty of more sinister activities.

Support for eco-terror groups such as the ALF and the ELF, and helping fund the defense of activists caught setting fire to research labs that use animals to develop drugs for humans, has caused peta to come under federal and state investigation for years. A rumor going around claims the FBI has finally put the peta on its list of actual terrorist groups, where it belongs, but so far I haven’t managed to confirm that.

The truth is that, while peta claims to care for animals, only a tiny fraction of the group’s $32 million annual budget is spent to help the critters. The rest is spent on ad campaigns to inform the public that red meat, milk, and hunting is bad for us. During 2008, for example, peta took in 2,216 animals, and found homes for exactly seven of them, according to peta’s own records, filed with the state of Virginia. Our friends at peat don’t care about animals. They care about control.

And now this nefarious club has attacked a tradition as American as apple pie – Punxsutawny Phil, the groundhog that, every year, predicts whether spring has arrived. The animal rights group says organizers should use an animatronic robot instead, and turn Phil loose. Really. A robot.

The claim is that it’s inhumane to keep Phil captive, and subject him to huge crowds and bright lights once a year. But Punxsutawney Groundhog Club president William Deeley says Phil, who lives in a climate-controlled environment and is regularly inspected by the Dept. of Agriculture, is treated "better than the average child in Pennsylvania."

Deeley hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that peta isn’t really interested in Phil, but is just out for publicity.

You never know what lunacy peta will come up with next. All we know for sure is that it won’t make any sense. It probably will, however, make a good column.

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker whose kids have it almost as good as Punxsutawney Phil. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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