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Gary Simonson, Fargo, Published January 18 2013

Letter: Forum’s use of PETA commentary troubling

As 2012 marched along, I noted a few commentaries/columns in The Forum, followed by many more, written by officers or staff writers of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA is one of the most radical animal rights extremist groups in the world. PETA’s President Ingrid Newark has been quoted as saying:

“Eating meat is primitive, barbaric and arrogant.”

– Washington City Paper (Dec. 20, 1985)

“There’s no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They’re all animals.”

– Washingtonian magazine (Aug. 1, 1986)

“Pet ownership is an absolutely abysmal situation brought about by human manipulation.”

– Harper’s (Aug. 1, 1988)

“Our goal is total animal liberation.”

– “Animal Rights 2002” convention (June 30, 2002)

The U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance recently released their “Dirty Dozen” list for the most extreme groups that undermine and manipulate systems across America to achieve their goals. The USSA says this: “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA – outrageous, radical and out of touch with mainstream America on issues related to pets, food, hunting, fishing and many other topics. PETA has many programs to turn children against farming, ranching, hunting, fishing and other mainstream lifestyles. This group paid legal fees for a convicted animal rights terrorist.”

To the farmers, ranchers, hunters, fisherman, meat eaters, pet owners and leather wearers of North Dakota, PETA is akin to a terrorist organization. They are so extreme in their views and goals that the majority of people surveyed reject most or all of their ideals. Don’t take my word for it, just look up PETA on Wikipedia and read in detail about this organization.

According to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, in 2012, 130,000 North Dakotans applied for a resident deer tag. 160,000 folks purchased a fishing license. Not to mention the number of farmers, ranchers, and food and dairy producers and processers. What percentage of North Dakotans are somehow connected to either food production or outdoor interests? How about poultry production, hay and forage producers, agricultural equipment manufacturers, commodity processors and construction companies serving these industries? The ripple effect of sporting and farming on North Dakota is the foundation of our economy. This is the most astounding case of missing your constituency I can imagine by The Forum.

The Forum has not had an outdoors section since the retirement of John Lohman many years ago. Instead of addressing the interests and lifestyles of tens of thousands of readers, The Forum continues to print extremist opinions that speak to a handful of PETA members presumably in the area. Forum readers saw many PETA propaganda articles this year instead of an entire section devoted to the interests and livelihood of the great majority of our residents. In 2012 North Dakota voters soundly defeated Measure 5, the animal cruelty legislation that was supported by PETA.

I have to wonder whether this is just lazy journalism. Is there an unsupervised Forum staffer who is downloading articles off the AP, Web or McClatchy News (as we see elsewhere in the Forum every day)? Or is this something more insidious where a Forum staffer is trying to force a radical agenda on the readership? I can’t imagine this could be the case from a newspaper that tells us all how to vote and what to think via the tired and condescending Prairie Rose/Leafy Spurge series and other Forum editorials.

I suspect that the newspaper business is all about circulation numbers. The Forum seems to be able to not only misidentify the interests and livelihood of the majority of potential (or lost) readers but manages to alienate them as well.