PETA sent packing once again

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 24, 2002

The acronym is enough to make my skin crawl. And yet there it was, big and bold on a fax received at the Herald office last Thursday -- PETA.

My first inclination was to throw it away and ignore it.

But after a quick skim, this release from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had my ire and needed to be made public. The topic of whether or not to run with the story was debated in the newsroom, but alas, we felt the public had a right to know what was being asked of Austin High School and Austin High Principal Joe Brown.

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As most are well aware by now, PETA is asking Austin High School change its nickname from Packers to something pig-friendly. The suggestion offered from vegan leader Dan Shannon, who signed the faxed letter, was Pickers.

Yes, can't you see it now, a big nose with a finger up it blazoned across the front of the scarlet and white of beloved Austin High. Right.

After the story first broke here on the pages of the Austin Daily Herald, it gained both regional and national exposure. It seems the community's fight with PETA is receiving the backing of many throughout the nation.

Reportedly, fans of the Green Bay Packers are behind us all the way, as well as another well-known meatpacking town -- Chicago.

In fact, Austin gained notoriety in the Thursday, May 16 edition of the Chicago Tribune, when columnist John Kass gave the Austin community a high-five for standing behind its meatpacking roots.

Kass said in the column: "As a former Chicago butcher, I'm sick of these hate crimes against humans who work with meat. They work all day with boning knives in their hands, so the rest of you can enjoy chops, steaks, SPAM and other meaty treats."

Well said, John.

In its letter to Brown and the media, PETA basically insults the heritage of the Austin community, suggesting meatpacking work "… is nothing to be proud of."

Well, that position couldn't be further from the truth. We all should be proud of Austin's meatpacking heritage and those that have worked for years in the industry to make Hormel and its products world-renown today. Name another community the size of Austin that is home to a Fortune 500 Company and has all of the wonderful things our community has. It can't be done.

Certainly PETA and its members have a right to their opinions. However, those opinions don't carry much weight when they include insults aimed at thousands of people and a way of life.

We have a right to be proud of who we are. We have taken the resources we have at our disposal, the ingenuity and hard work our people possess and made something the entire world depends on.

Ask any of a hundred retired meatpackers in town what they think of the nickname Packers and they will tell you they are honored to have the high school recognize their achievements.

Perhaps PETA is the group who should change its name to Pickers, because all it seems they do is stick their collective nose where it doesn't belong.