Virtual Vermont Masthead
PETA and The State Beverage
One day during the summer of '98 (July, maybe? August? I don't really recall), I was in a local retail establishment, noting with half an ear that they were listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio. OK, I thought. Cool. I had been listening in the car, I could continue listening here.

I "zoomed in", as it were, as I registered Rush saying that this next item was from the front page of that day's Burlington Free Press, a copy of which had been faxed to him. It's not often Vermont makes the national news, less often Rush, so I decided to pay attention. I was not alone. Four or five others within earshot had dropped what they were doing, as well.

The Freep described how the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were taking issue with the status of cow's milk as the Official Beverage of The State of Vermont. They had written Governor Dean a letter, expressing their belief that for Vermont to officially designate and thus encourage the consumption of cow's milk above all other beverages was (are you ready for this?) racist.

Ayuh. Seems, according to PETA, that the vast majority of Hispanic-, African- and Oriental-Americans are lactose intolerant. The logical followon is that cow's milk is a WAS(P?) drink, thus discriminatory. PETA suggests soy milk instead.

Rush's reaction was twofold: PETA is a bunch of crazies to start with, of course. Do they really expect a dairy state to listen to this drivel? And, secondly, wasn't there anything more important going on in Vermont that day than to take up space on the front page of the Free Press with said drivel?

To the first question, not likely. To the second, possibly. Rush should be made aware that Vermont is relaxed enough that we occasionally have to raise issues such as this to headline status. With such a relatively small population, it is entirely possible that there wasn't anything more important going on that day (see this, also). We kinda like it like that. Rush's announcer is my cousin ("Thank you, Johnny Donovan"); maybe I'll give him a call and see if we can get Rush set straight.

Personally, I prefer not to offend someone if I can help it, but let's be realistic, shall we? There comes a point when this obsession with Political Correctness (PC) has just got to back off. You simply cannot satisfy everyone in a society as diverse as this.

Would the culinary preferences of any of these ethnic groups be considered prejudicial against people who cannot tolerate them, or would someone who is not able to consume certain foods simply be told not to eat them? I, for one, enjoy spicy foods, but must often have an antacid at the ready. Perhaps PETA should just distribute free samples of any of the lactose intolerance remedies available? Perhaps PETA should take on the makers of those remedies: notice that the people who are presented in the commercials as distraught over their inability to eat ice cream are all WASPish types? Where's the racial equity in that?

This episode suggests that PETA should be disbanded. Apparently, they have raised public consciousness and conscience to such a level that they don't have anything to do that is actually within their reason for existence. Are we to assume that there are no pressing animal welfare issues out there, leaving them time to branch off into racism, or is it something else? We all know that PETA thinks dairy animals are mistreated. Is this just an end run on the dairy industry?

Thanks, PETA, for the humor break. Now, let's all get back to what we're supposed to be doing, shall we? (June 3, 1999)

Matt Wills

ADDENDUM: Another example of the Freep's Front-Page-Decision-Making manifested itself during the second week of July, '00, when they ran a story about how the "dining" habits in Enosburgh Falls had changed since the opening of a McDonald's on the north side of the village. After all, for the first time, folks would not have to drive 20 miles to St. Albans to satisy a Big Mac attack. There, in full color, was the owner of a local eatery (the "Cownty Kitchen"), pointing up the street toward the intruder, accompanied by a write-up describing how her business had fallen off. I fully sympathize with her and would be saddened if she is seriously harmed by the Golden Arches being nearby, but I'm sure Rush would have something to say about it being front page material for the state's largest newspaper.

As for me, I live another 10 miles up the road, and am only slightly likely to stop as I pass by. I have long held that they spend a good percentage of their product development budget looking for ways to stretch a pound of meat ever further, to the point where the last McD's burger I ate bore a strong resemblance to brown air wrapped in bread. To their credit, though, they do a pretty good breakfast. Overall, when they put a Burger King in Richford, I'll be happy. [Back]

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September 30, 2000