Students at the Community Building Children’s Center arrived at their downtown preschool Monday morning to discover that their pet rabbit Sugar Bunny had been kidnapped over the weekend. Teachers found anti-circus flyers in his hutch.
The half-dozen flyers left behind advertised protests against the Ringling Brothers Circus, which was in town Sept. 20-23. The flyers showed a picture of a forlorn-looking bear, trying to escape underneath the bars of its cage. Animal rights groups PETA and the Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN) were listed along the bottom.
I hate bullies. The most contemptible kind of person in my book is someone who uses their power or position to inflict pain and humiliation on those less powerful. It doesn't matter whether the person on top is a playground terror beating up on smaller kids, a frustrated consumer berating service workers, an office tyrant having a temper tantrum, an oblivious executive assigning nicknames to his staff, or a high-paid jock organizing dog fights, they are all bullies and they all deserve to be condemned and shunned. Those who justify their bullying with pious moral positions are the worst kind.
Stealing the pet bunny from a bunch of pre-school kids is just mean. It is also not isolated behavior. When Rudy Giuliani had prostrate cancer in 2000, PETA used his face on billboards that read "Got prostate cancer? Drinking milk contributes to prostate cancer." Over the years, in a perfect imitation of the outer fringe of the anti-abortion movement, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) has moved from "liberating" animals, to attacking property, to intimidating workers and families of companies that use lab animals. It's only a matter of time before they kill someone.
It's only fair to point out that no one has officially taken responsibility or been charged for this action. PETA, in not quite a denial, issued a statement saying that "stealing a pet bunny is not something the group would endorse." NARN hadn't said anything when the article went to press. But, if the bunnynapping turns out to be the responsibility of someone inspired by PETA and NARN, rather than an official action blessed by their leaders, it won't dilute their responsibility.
This action manages to hit the trifecta of offensive activism: it's mean, it's self-righteous, and it's ineffective. No one will be won over to their cause by making a class full of pre-schoolers cry. Just the opposite. When the Croc Hunter, Steve Irwin, was killed filming a stingray, misguided fans went out and killed stingrays, an act that would have horrified him. This bunny liberation is exactly the sort of thing that could provoke a stupid reaction. It's entirely conceivable that some nut will feel justified killing bunnies "to show those animal rights nuts."
And what about Sugar Bunny? Mark Hoofnagle sums up the final ineffective irony of it all. "I can just imagine the liberation of this 8-year-old, probably overweight, pet-bred bunny into the wild. What do you guys think the survival time would be? 2 hours? 4? Morons." Or, as another famous bunny might say, "What a bunch of maroons."