A Penn & Teller Video Worth Watching

If you’re read my blog for any amount of time you’ll already know that I am NO fan of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).   Recently while monitoring some blog feeds I noticed that Doug Howlett over at The Strut Zone had stumbled upon an interesting video about this do-good organization.   It’s narrated by the famous Penn & Teller, Las Vegas show entertainers…and it’s a marvelous piece every sportsman should take 15 minutes to view.   Be forewarned, the video does have some rough language…so viewer discretion is advised.

To view the Penn & Teller PETA video click HERE.   This video was apparently produced as part of SHOWTIME’S Penn & Teller Bullshit! reality series which you can learn more about by clicking HERE.

I know I sure have some new respect for this entertainment duo for being brave enough to tell it like it is in a very eloquent fashion.   No doubt the next time I’m in Vegas I will be buying tickets to support their live performances.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Exposing It All (almost) To Gain Exposure For The Cause

It happened yesterday in Minneapolis.   It happened again today in Duluth, Minnesota.   And tomorrow, a press release states it will occur once again on a busy street corner now in Madison, Wisconsin.   What sort of plague seems to be slowly working its way east, you say?   It’s just PETA’s (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) on-going ploy in an attempt to draw attention to an animal rights cause that can’t survive and capture the public’s attention on its own philosophical merit—it needs ostentatious behavior by a scantily clad woman to lure in the media cameras.

Let’s face it…if you’ve read this blog for awhile you’ll know that few things tend to get my hackles up quicker than an “anti” or animal rights activist spreading their ill-conceived message in some unusual way.   They strive to make hunters, trappers, farmers or anyone, for that matter who exercises some form of control on animals, out to be some great villain.   Truth is, history documents quite well that sportsmen have accomplished far more to enhance the conservation cause and to help animal populations than these groups have ever hoped to accomplish.   Farmers, likewise, have long-since discovered that stress-free animals grow faster and will be more effective commodity producers.

Photo by Mike Mosedale (City Pages)So, when Michelle Cho stripped nearly naked on a busy Minneapolis street corner at high noon, on display was not only her petite nude body outlined in a manner depicting a butcher’s chart of various meat cuts.   Rather, it was nothing more than a publicity stunt ridiculously attempting to draw attention to a worn-out animal rights belief that will gain few converts to the cause by performing such public antics.

Here’s my real gripe.   When a group of sportsmen assembled last year on the steps of the state capitol protesting the current state of the depressed waterfowl situation, the mainstream media gives it scant attention, at best.   Hundreds of sportsmen gathered with the very groups that have sometimes been at odds to join efforts and decry a desperate need for action by our state officials, and the only media that covers it extensively is the outdoors media.   Perhaps that’s the problem.   When sportsmen strive to seek attention we depend on a strong message to carry the cause, and not some law-breaking theatrics by the participants.   Oh how things would be different if all the hunters who protested our various causes stood on the grounds of the state capitol raising loaded shotguns high into the air and demanded attention and action.

But of course we don’t do that.   If we carried our shotguns when we protest it would look like a bunch of crazed hunters had finally gone beyond acceptable standards.   Sure, we would then draw plenty of attention…but for all the wrong reasons.

Personally, I wonder if the Michelle Cho’s of the world, who would perform such exhibitionist stunts throughout the upper Midwest, must suffer from some form of psychosis.   Truthfully!   A normal person would not move from major city to city in a calculated display to bare it all, no matter how strong they felt about a cause.   Actually, I feel sorry for Ms. Cho because she is nothing more than a puppet of the PETA media circus in a very pathetic display of attention.

So why is any of this important to the sportsman?   First, it goes to show you the radical and desperate actions these groups will take to sway public opinion.   Is it really effective…no, but it continues to draw attention to a cause that simply does not accept the way us sportsmen (or farmers) wish to carry out our lives.   More importantly, these groups are also well funded thanks to their spreading misinformation and lies to justify their cause.   Sportsmen cannot afford to dismiss what these groups are doing or the consequences someday could be devastating to the sports we enjoy.

Honestly, I really don’t understand why the police in Minneapolis or Duluth did not place Ms. Cho on a 72–hour medical hold for a psychiatric evaluation.   They have the power to do that…they even have the authority to do that.   Mentally healthy people do not remove most of their clothes and lay down on a busy Minnesota street during the middle of cold January.   Cause or no cause…such behavior begs for further examination.

Besides, with her fast-paced schedule of appearances…committing her to a psych ward for a few days would have surely wrecked havoc with some upcoming street corner engagement in another Midwest city.   And that would have been too bad.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Do We Really Need A QUAIL FOREVER Conservation Group?

Recently the Minnesota-based Pheasants Forever conservation organization announced it was starting a separate division called Quail Forever.   The goal is to model the new group’s conservation efforts patterned after the successful fundraising experience learned through PF.

Sounds like a great idea…another conservation group…right?   I say wrong.   I happen to believe there are already too many groups competing for the sportsman’s pocketbook.   Just in paying membership dues alone the typical sportsman could invest hundreds of dollars annually to belong to groups that support the various facets of outdoors life that a sportsman might enjoy.   And that’s not to mention the fundraising banquets, etc.   I once added it up that I attended over 12 banquets a year…that’s averaging 1 per month.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think philanthropy as a sportsman is very necessary and proper activity…but what concerns me is the formation of another group vying for my hard-earned bucks.   Each group has overhead, office staff, etc. that are part of the normal costs of doing business.   And that’s not to mention the marketing efforts (and expense) that must be employed to coax those greenbacks from my pocket.

I personally feel that adding a new conservation group, such as QF, simply dilutes and further splinters the sportsman base.   I’m not familiar with the politics behind why Quail Unlimited and now Quail Forever are competing…but it did sound as if QF tried to merge with the long-established Quail Unlimited organization before announcing its formation.   So for now, there will be TWO organizations competing for the quail hunter’s money.

I suppose some might argue that this competition is not a bad thing.   Let’s face it, having choices is always nice.   But I worry if the motivation behind the upstart organization is always completely sincere.   I know for a fact that when you get into the board rooms and the marketing manager’s offices of these organizations it is the almighty dollar that drives and motivates the decisions.   Oh sure, wildlife is the constant focus and intended goal…but raising new funds and building organizational coffers is of paramount concern.   And I make this blanket statement and believe it to be true with nearly every organization that exists soliciting the sportsman’s dollar.

Here’s the deal and it’s a deep-rooted human urge that sportsman need to master by gaining some control on.   The urge is we all like to feel a sense of “belonging” with a group of likeminded folks.   Take for instance a group of volunteer firefighters for a small town.   I can guarantee you it is feeling a sense of belonging and purpose that makes them a close-knit department willing to risk their life for what they believe is necessary.   Same goes with members of a local fraternal lodge…the same sense of belonging enables these groups to thrive and gain membership.

Don’t think for a moment that conservation groups are not keenly aware of this human trait.   Most, if not all, will tailor their marketing efforts to foster this desire to belong to their group.   And hey, for the small price of a couple boxes of ammo…a sportsman can begin boasting their affiliation with an organization by displaying window stickers on their truck’s bumper or back window.   This scenario happens thousands of times daily in all areas where sportsmen are known to exist.

But let’s get back on track with my original premise…and that being that we don’t need more conservation groups established.   My point is we need quality groups with a demonstrated focus of their efforts.   That’s not to say that given 10 or 15 years from now QF might become a solid voice for quail hunters.   In fact, given the history of the folks at PF that is a very likely prediction.

My contention is sportsman should not blindly belong to organizations without asking questions of why.   Find out what the organization’s long-term goals are…discover how the money you spend is personally helping the way you fish or hunt.   Look at the organization’s structure to determine its conservation expenditures are in line with what it spends administratively.   There needs to be a balance.

When sportsmen begin to demand MORE from their conservation groups it makes these existing groups more responsive to the membership base.   It also ensures that the money being spent by the individual sportsman is going to a good cause that has a solid purpose to enrich the sport.

If you think more is better when it comes to conservation affiliations…then book your calendar full with as many banquets (and conservation memberships) as you can possibly afford.   But if you’re more like me, the older you get the more careful you are with the money you have to spend.   Indeed, there’s lots of worthy causes out there deserving of our support…but we must realize that budgetary limitations require that we be judicious in determining which ones are truly necessary.

© 2005 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.