I have mixed feelings about yesterday's assault on a PETA activist in downtown St. John's. While it may not go down in the annals of history as the organizations most electrifying protest, they will make millions because of the pie throwing incident.
Yesterday, I listened in disgust as VOCM Open Line host Randy Simms encouraged listeners to throw pies at the PETA activist dressed as a seal. He suggested that it would be great to see a bunch of people, armed with pies pelt the protester.
The Downhomer's mascot Salty did just that, but in a way which certainly did not make me proud. Salty approached (after jumping out of a van) a weary Emily Lavender, grabbed her, knocked her over (while trying to pull of the head of the costume), picked the pie up from the ground and planted it her face. The trip was accidental, but the scuffle looked ugly and mean. Yes in broad daylight a male physically assaulted a young girl and many have condoned it. Salty royally screwed up!
If we thought the assault on Fisheries Minister Gail Shea earlier this week by a PETA supporter was intolerable, what makes this incident acceptable? If we demanded that PETA be branded a terrorist organization than why should those who suggested that not demand the same of VOCM or the Downhomer. Yes folks, Randy Simms (who I have defended many times in the past) may have incited this assault on live radio yesterday morning. If we feel that Gail Shea was assaulted than surely we must feel that Emily Lavender was assaulted? What happened to freedom of association or freedom of speech? What happened to the reputation of warm open hospitality that we have worked so hard to develop?
37-year-old New York City resident Emily McCoy was charged with assault for striking Fisheries Minister Gail Shea in the face with a pie. McCoy, a supporter of PETA acted alone, the incident was not organized by the animal-rights group. Compare McCoys plop in the face with aggression and intensity of yesterdays assault. and your left with an empty feeling in your stomach.
For me this was just stupid. Sure, on first brush it may have given some people a rush of gotcha, in return for years of slagging the hunt and our people. In the long run we lose. We look like the savage bullies that we have been painted out to be. Perhaps this is just what the organization wanted to happen. We are our own worst enemies.
I may show great disdain for PETA, and their false messages, but I certainly support their right to protest. Imagine being forced to defend a PETA organizer because of the stupidly of my fellow Newfoundlanders'.
Two wrongs do not make a right it....stupid, stupid stupid.
- Peter L. Whittle
- A former journalist, broadcaster, political staffer and policy adviser, Peter has studied political science, journalism, public administration and Canadian politics. He has grown weary of partisan politics but remains engaged in public policy issues and community activism. Father to three teenage boys,he is committed to teaching them the values of cooperation, volunteering and caring for each other. All I want is for my children to be respectful and successful.