PETA’s Garbage Disguised As News

Since when does this garbage become newsworthy?   Seriously.   I can’t believe that a respected news gathering organization, like the Associated Press, continues to buy into disseminating this anti-fur propaganda year after year.   When Mr. Blackwell issues his “Best and Worst Dressed Lists” for the show biz industry it’s done in a fun-spirited manner with no harm intended.   But this is completely different.   PETA’s list is meant to intimidate, spread an anti-sportsman agenda, and influence public opinion in ways that go far beyond being fun-spirited.   Shame on any respected news outlet that chooses to print this inflammatory piece under the guise of being reportable news.

Aretha Makes PETA’s ‘Worst-Dressed’ List

NEW YORK — PETA thinks Aretha Franklin is no queen of soul when it comes to wearing fur.

Franklin was crowned this year’s worst-dressed celebrity by the animal rights organization. Her crime: wearing “yet another vulgar fur” at the Grammy Awards.

“… you looked as if you were going to perform ‘I Am the Walrus’ by the Beatles,” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said Wednesday of Franklin’s appearance. “You might be a queen, but you don’t know jack about compassion.”


“How ’bout some R-E-S-P-E-C-T for animals?” PETA added.

The other offenders are Marilyn Manson, Eva Longoria (“in her trashy furs, she looks like the streetwalker of Wisteria Lane”), Lindsay Lohan, Kate Moss and Kylie Minogue.

PETA called Minogue cold-blooded for toting a python purse. As for Lohan, the group remarked: “`I Know Who Killed Me’ isn’t just the title of Lindsay Lohan’s latest bomb, it’s the cry of the animals snuffed out so this `Mean Girl’ can pose in their pelts.”

Christina Ricci, Martha Stewart and Alicia Keys have said they’ve given up wearing fur since being singled out by PETA in previous years.

PETA asked people to vote on the Web site Fur Is Dead.

The group said it took Britney Spears out the running because they didn’t want to kick her while she’s down.

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2008 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.


Final Thoughts On Recent POMA Conference

I must admit it is with some mixed emotions I loaded up my truck and departed the recent Professional Outdoor Media Assn. (POMA) conference held in Minneapolis this past week.   Even though I staunchly back the organization for its solid pro-hunting and conservation oriented goals and ideals within the realm of the outdoors communications world, I fear (or shall I say sense) a lingering divide within the writer ranks.

I first posted about the strife within the Outdoor Writers Assn. of America (OWAA) back in April of 2005.   In a nutshell, many members who went on to create POMA felt the OWAA was being overtaken by members — both individual and corporate — who do not share our strong shooting sports beliefs.   Of course, that matter remains up for good-natured debate, but the upshot is a big wedge continues to fester within the organizational ranks of brethren and sisters who communicate the outdoors experience.

So why should this bother me?   Because disagreements are not a good thing whether they are in the workplace, a marriage, or anywhere in life.   The OWAA which decades ago was a strong association of about 2,000 professional outdoors communicators has now seen those numbers drop by about 25% in recent years.   Not a significant drop that would necessarily compromise the longevity of the organization, mind you, but certainly a negative sign that indicates trouble exists.

Nearly 20 years ago when I was fresh out of college and attended my first OWAA conference it was exciting, and to say the least, very beneficial toward my continued growth as a communicator.   Back in those years the organization was solid and the membership seemed to be fairly united.   Encouraging ethics, promoting conservation and improving communicating skills were some of the main goals.   But more importantly, you would go to the conference as a young writer and soon become overwhelmed as you sat in the presence of all the big names of the industry.   It was not only exciting, but very damn motivational, to say the least.

Those same feelings were missing from the recent POMA conference.   Albeit, the organization is still in its infancy and has lots of growing pains yet to come.   Oh, sure, there was still the dissemination of good information and helpful seminars on skill improvement…but something else was lacking.   It was not the same as the past OWAA conferences I had attended.   In fairness, I am older now and perhaps not so much in awe of all the great writers I once got to meet for the first time…but there was more to it than just that.

It’s like going to a family reunion knowing that many folks who should have been there choose to do something else on that day.   So, naturally what do folks in attendance do…of course, they talk about those who are not there.   Human nature, I suppose.   But there is still a lingering feeling of regret like why couldn’t everyone just put aside the differences for one day and act like a family once again?   It’s never that easy.   Truth is, it can take decades and perhaps generations before some families forget what it was that once split them up to cause the feud.

Please understand I am not dissing POMA or its leadership for failing to make a difference.   Quite the contrary.   I am mourning the fact that, much like some insidious disease such as cancer, we have allowed the outdoors writing family to split up.   Missing at the recent conference were many old friends who remain loyal to OWAA, and I can’t blame them for that.   Still, there comes a time in life when we all must ask ourselves if what we are loyal to continues to represent our steadfast beliefs.   At least for me, OWAA does not do it and POMA holds the best promise for the future.

The average hunter or fisherman might be asking themselves just who cares about this matter anyway.   Well, what I have been lamenting should deeply concern all of us.   And here’s why.

Does it concern you if a teacher in your child’s school system is so blatantly anti-hunting that on nearly a daily basis your child comes home and questions the need for your sporting traditions?   Does it bother you that the movie your child is begging you to go see has a blatant and obvious anti-hunting theme?   What if a counselor tells your child that guns are too dangerous and they shouldn’t be found in your home?   Each of these situations would get your gander up, correct?

Well, then, what if this same mentality is pervasive within the ranks of the organization for which your favorite outdoors writer or broadcaster belongs.   Not exactly the same thing, I understand, but it still creates confusion and disunity within a once proud and strong community.   The point is there are organizations out there that will stoop to any tactic to conquer and divide us — at any level.   Every inch of ground they gain is an inch of ground that we have lost…no matter how it occurs.

Indeed, the hour-long drive home from the POMA conference was somewhat cathartic as I reflected on what I had just experienced.   On one hand I was quite sad as I yearned back for the days when all of us in this outdoors writing community were in one big group.   Yet, on the other hand, I realized that life doesn’t always work out that way and a person must sometimes accept the inevitable changes.   Still, it doesn’t mean I can’t hope that the day will soon come when we can all get together once again as one big happy family.   In the meantime, I’m not holding my breath that will happen.

2007 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

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Surviving A Catastrophe…Watching The Healing Begin

If you’ve listened to the news during the past few days you’ve undoubtedly heard about the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis.   Words alone cannot adequately express the depth of this human tragedy.   Indeed, even days after this unfortunate occurrence, all eyes of the world remain on Minneapolis as the devastation and then the aftermath of this tragedy begin to finally show signs of some healing.

As I write this I’m sitting just a few miles from this devastation while I attend the 2007 Professional Outdoor Media Association business conference in North Minneapolis.   I’ll admit, occasionally my thoughts would drift to this tragic scene while sitting in the various craft improvement seminars at the conference the past few days.   But, life moves on even when the situation seems so sad and hopeless.

Gathered at the conference are over 200 of the nation’s top outdoors writers—folks such as J. Wayne Fears, Wayne Carlton, Larry Weishuhn and Jim Zumbo.   Yes, I said Jim Zumbo.   As most of us figured he would, he’s committed as an outdoors writer and I guarantee you the incident that happened to him roughly six months back has not put this fine hunting writer down for the count.   Obviously, Zumbo appears quite humbled by what has happened to his storied career in outdoors journalism…but this determined icon of the outdoors isn’t going away anytime soon.   He was warmly welcomed by all writers and encouraged to put the incident behind him and move on.

TgreshamBut in sort of a strange way I considered Zumbo to be a poster child of what is going on in this industry.   Certainly Zumbo learned his lesson (the hard way), but so, too, have most of the other writers in this industry.   But just in case, during today’s lunch, Tom Gresham, host of Gun Talk, informed all the writers just how important the “EBR” (Evil Black Rifle) is becoming to this industry.   In fact, Gresham pleaded with the writers to become familiar with the #1 selling firearm currently on the market.   He also told all writers that they must give it a chance and they will quickly discover just how much fun it is to shoot.

Since POMA splintered off from the Outdoor Writers Association of America about two years ago, this group consists heavily of hunters and shooters.   And perhaps because of that…a strong theme throughout the conference dealt with related gun owning issues.   Michael Bane, representing The Outdoor Channel, spoke on the importance of gun owners winning the cultural war.   He stated in many ways we have won the political battles thanks to the NRA…but we are losing the cultural war with the anti-gunners creating many false public perceptions.

Bane warned all us writers that there is a storm brewing and we better get prepared to deal with it.   EVERYONE needs to join the NRA now whether or not you like all of this group’s policies.   The fact of the matter is, if we are going to win the battles and continue to enjoy our gun freedoms we must “normalize” gun ownership in the public’s mind.   Bane explained to the gathering some of the sneaky tactics that the anti’s are using and it’s frustrating, to say the least.   Read more on Bane’s Blog.

All in all the writers in attendance seem pretty upbeat about the state of the industry.   Sure, the message that Gresham, Bane and the NRA’s Kayne Robinson delivered were words we all needed to hear as a wake up call to the industry, but I think for many of us that realization actually came last February in witnessing the aftermath of Jim Zumbo’s infamous blog post.

You know, oddly enough I see a parallel here with the bridge collapse and Jim Zumbo’s career.   In a matter of moments both the bridge and Zumbo’s career (as he once knew it) came tumbling down and the event changed many of our lives.   Some more than others.   Yet, as I witness, Zumbo is working hard to build bridges again and heal those wounds.   In just a few days he’s taking a bunch of Iraq war amputees with him to Africa to provide for them a special hunt.   He also offered up a 3–day prairie dog hunt that was provided as a POMA fundraising auction.   And guess what…both Zumbo and the auction winner will be shooting black rifles at the little critters.

Indeed, bridges can be rebuilt but the scars and memories certainly will all long remain.   Yet, just because a situation may seem bleak at the moment doesn’t mean something good and positive can’t eventually result from the unfortunate event.

2007 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

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