Jewish World Review May 6, 2003 / 4 Iyar, 5763

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

Grill a hamburger for PETA | In what might (but probably won't) be considered good news for budget- strained municipalities, the New York town of Hamburg has been offered $15,000 to change its name to Veggieburg.

The offer, needless to say, comes from PETA, short for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

(Apparently the name People for the Ethical Treatment of Everything But People was already taken. You may recall that PETA has, in the past, opposed the use of mice and rats for medical research purposes, suggesting instead that live humans be used in the tests. PETA also opposed using dolphins and sea lions to scout for mines and enemy divers during Gulf War II. Oddly enough, no PETA members volunteered to substitute for the marine mammals.) "The town's name conjures up visions of unhealthy patties of ground-up dead cows," said PETA spokesman Joe Haptas. Proving that it is, indeed, possible to make school lunches even more unpalatable than they already are, PETA has offered to supply area schools with $15,000 worth of non-meat patties for the name change.

Much to the relief of double-bacon-cheeseburger lovers worldwide, Hamburg Supervisor Patrick Hoak declined the offer.

"With all due respect, I think it's a delicacy in our community," Hoak said after briefly losing consciousness over the prospect of $15,000 worth of non-meat patties flooding his community. "We're proud of our name and proud of our heritage."

A suburb of Buffalo, Hamburg has proudly borne its name since 1812 and promotes itself as the birthplace of America's favorite fast food. Hamburg celebrates the birth of hamburgers at its annual Burgerfest.

PETA had the same lack of success in 1996 when it proposed that the Hudson Valley town of Fishkill change its name to Fishsave because the group believed the name brought to mind violent images of dead fish.

Perhaps addled by the lack of dead cow in their diet, PETA members overlooked the fact that the town was named by Dutch settlers in the early 1600s and that "kill" is the Dutch word for "stream." (Next on PETA's agenda: Blood Pudding, Texas; Viscera, Ill.; Chitlins, Ga.; Vivisection, Ohio, and Tripe, Fla.)

One can only hope that PETA will accept Hamburg's polite refusal to change its name to Veggieburg and not react violently as it has in the past to people wearing fur coats or eating Big Macs. I'm guessing that attendance at Burgerfest will drop sharply if PETA members start pelting festivalgoers with organically grown tomatoes or wads of tofu. (Does soybean curd feel pain when it is formed into squares?)

You can't, after all, rule out anything from an organization that did a TV ad comparing the raising of dairy cows to the Holocaust.

In the meantime, I am declaring today Eat an Animal for PETA Day and suggest we celebrate it by poaching some salmon, smoking some ribs or grilling a nice, big, fat, juicy ribeye steak. And for the appetizer? Hamburgers, of course.

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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