Updated at the bottom with reaction from SeaWorld and L.A. author Earl Ofari Hutchinson. First posted at 11:27 a.m.
Animal rights -- perfectly normal, perfectly healthy. Yet where does the movement go too far, surpassing even the best wishes of a life-loving liberal?
Ah, PETA just answered that question today by unleashing a lawsuit against SeaWord. Mmm, SeaWorld. Don't they keep killer whales and orcas in captivity, holding them back from their natural environments? Sure, okay. We're with that characterization. Yes, but, this lawsuit is special:
It equates whales with ...
... American slaves!
That's right, PETA states "five wild-caught orcas forced to perform at SeaWorld are being held as slaves in violation of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."
Yes, this is constitutional, PETA is saying whales have the rights of humans, and the org equates whales with human beings who were held against their wills and forced to perform menial labor while abused. The shame of slavery, of course, helped shape American history and gave a voice to its popular culture. Whale captivity? Not so much.
PETA lawyer Jeffrey Kerr:
Slavery is slavery, and it does not depend on the species of the slave any more than it depends on gender, race, or religion.
Mmkay. Slavery is slavery, you leash-having dog owners.
The orcas in question include Kasatka, Corky, and Ulises in San Diego. The suit was filed U.S. District Court in that city.
PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk:
All five of these orcas were violently seized from the ocean and taken from their families as babies. They are denied freedom and everything else that is natural and important to them while kept in small concrete tanks and reduced to performing stupid tricks. The 13th Amendment prohibits slavery, and these orcas are, by definition, slaves.
We have a call into NAACP Los Angeles president Leon Jenkins for comment.
No word on whether any of the other whales is named Kunta Kinte. We do know this: That moaning, under-the-sea sound you hear is not the voice of whales suffering. It's the sound of liberals and minorities jumping ship when it comes to PETA.
[Update]: SeaWorld sent us its reaction, which reads, in part:
... This effort to extend the Thirteenth Amendment's solemn protections beyond human beings is baseless and in many ways offensive. SeaWorld is among the world's most respected zoological institutions. There is no higher priority than the welfare of the animals entrusted to our care and no facility sets higher standards in husbandry, veterinary care and enrichment than SeaWorld.
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It called the suit a "publicity stunt."
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, an African American L.A. author and leader who often speaks on matters of race, told us this:
It is insulting. Clearly the 13th 14th and 15th Amendments were passed directly as a result of a major bloody battle in this country to end slavery and to ensure civil and voting rights for African Americans.
When you butcher history to make a point you are not only alienating African Americans and those who understand these amendments and the protections they afford, you're saying whales have the same rights as African Americans. You're not going to make many friends among African Americans. My guess is there will be a backlash.