PEOPLE for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the animal rights group, must have been bored when it asked a handful of cities recently to change their names to something more animal-friendly.
It began with a proposition that Slaughterville, Okla., become Veggieville, with no consideration for those researchers who insist that plants have feelings, too.
But Slaughterville, named for a local merchant named Slaughter, rejected PETA's entreaty. Undaunted, PETA turned its attention to Rodeo, Calif., and the communities of Hamburg and Fishkill, N.Y., suggesting that they should find more animal-friendly names. Three more rejections.
Etymology surely had something to do with it. The kill in Fishkill has nothing to do with killing fish. Rather it refers to a stream or river. Similarly, the burg in Hamburg, of German origin, suggests a town. The German city of the same name began as the moated Hammaburg Castle in about 825. Hard to reduce history like that to an American diet staple.
Oklahoma's response to PETA was a cookout at the town hall, and an offer of $20,000 in hamburger if the group would go away, preferably to India, where vegetarian diets are more common.
PETA needn't go that far. Reggio Emilia, a wealthy town in central Italy, is PETA's kind of place.
Town fathers there passed a law to take effect this week requiring the pampering of pets in ways quite reflective of PETA's anthropomorphic bent.
For example, dogs must have spacious houses in shady, sheltered locations. Single canaries must be protected from loneliness with a significant other.
And no pink poodles. It'll be illegal to tint a pet's fur.
In Reggio Emilia, live lobsters must be killed before they go into boiling water, preventing what the town calls "a useless torture."
It's not clear how rigid the enforcement will be, or whether people must report how they dispatch their lobsters or find love for their canaries. But fines run from 25 to 495 euros, each worth about $1.25. That's going to give the good people of Reggio Emilia pause.
We're all for the ethical treatment of animals and don't like to see abuse in any form. Sometimes, however, PETA's zeal amounts to abuse of common sense.