Dan Murphy: When Animals Attack

Which is the greater tragedy? Killing an animal (accidentally, let’s stipulate) with your car, or bringing one to football game? PETA thinks Bevo should be retired. ( University of Texas )

Which is the greater tragedy? Killing an animal (accidentally, let’s stipulate) with your car, or bringing one to football game? If you agree with PETA, the real horror is the animal mascot.

They say that politics makes for strange bedfellows.

Especially partisan politics, such as the brand of take-no-prisoners preaching practiced by our friends at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

If you were to ask a PETA person, “Is it okay to eat meat?” after they stopped screaming, you’d hear the equivalent of how an Inuit native answers the question, “What’s that stuff falling from the sky?”

In other words, 35 different ways to say NO!!”

Turns out there’s one exception, however: If the meat you’re planning to eat came from an animal that you hit with your car or truck, you’re good to go — although the animal you just ran over … not so much.

The world’s premier meat-hating organization adopted such an unexpected stance because on New Year’s Day, a law took effect in Oregon that legalized the consumption of meat from roadkill. Drivers who run over game animals in the state can now “harvest” them for food.

In the wake of that development, PETA issued a statement that deserves to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame of Backhanded Compliments:

“Eating roadkill is healthier for the consumer than meat laden with antibiotics, hormones and growth stimulants, as most meat is today.”

Honestly, that statement reads like it was written by some vegetarian intern tasked with sounding tough in response to a law about which PETA’s honchos could care less.

Talk about mailing it in.

Animal vs. animal

Hard to figure out why the Meat Is Murder people would issue such a bland talking point about one of the greatest horrors on Earth — the consumption of anything edible that came from an animal — until you recognize that on the very same day that Oregon’s legislation was going into effect, a much bigger, far greater atrocity was taking place some 2,500 miles away from the Beaver State.

While Oregon drivers were busy swerving into any deer or elk that might venture onto the highway, a true tragedy was unfolding inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

That’s because while the football teams representing the University of Texas and the University of Georgia were getting set to battle it out in the 2019 Allstate Sugar Bowl, behind the scenes an animal was being horribly traumatized, an event that fires up PETA people with a passion a football fanatic can only dream about.

Before the teams took the field, representatives from both universities arranged a “meeting” between the two school’s mascots, Bevo, the full-grown Texas longhorn steer, and Uga, the pugnacious English Bulldog. Only the encounter quickly went from a meet-and-greet to a one-sided beatdown that ironically paralleled the action that subsequently took place in the football game.

Turns out that whether we’re talking college football players or college football mascots, size matters.

As USA Today reported, “In a somewhat scary moment on the sidelines of the Superdome before the contest, Texas mascot Bevo appeared to be angered by the presence of Uga. Bevo charged toward the bulldog, easily blowing through the metal barrier that separated the mascots.”

The newspaper noted that Uga and “several human bystanders” were able to scramble away from the steer, as Bevo’s handlers rushed to get him under control.

In the two-and-a-half hours of football that followed, however, Georgia’s offensive squad was unable to scamper away from the Longhorn’s pressure, and their defense, while not (wisely) turning tail like Uga, nevertheless ended up metaphorically on the business end of those six-foot horns as Texas posted a 28-21 upset of the 5th-ranked Bulldogs.

But for PETA, the tragedy wasn’t about one team’s bowl game hopes getting dashed, it was the horror of the universities having animal mascots in the first place.

The group quickly issued a statement — one not written by whatever intern was working (for free) over the holidays, by the way — saying that it is “indefensible to subject animals to the stress” of screaming fans in a packed stadium.

Yeah, because animals living their natural lives of peace and freedom in the forest or on the prairie are never subjected to any “stress” from predators intent on killing them.

“PETA is calling on the University of Texas and the University of Georgia to learn from this dangerous incident,” said Lisa Lange, the group’s senior vice president, “and retire their live-animal mascots, and stick to the talented costumed mascots who can lead cheers, react to the crowd, and pump up the team.”

Too bad PETA doesn’t take its own advice, since their idea of “talented mascots” is a parade of near-naked women either covered only with fake blood or a few fake leaves.

You know, to pump up the crowd in a way that steers and dogs just can’t manage.

The opinions in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and commentator.