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Garbage Pail | Animal Wrongs | Matt Sullivan | humor | column | Lollipop

Garbage Pail

Animal Wrongs

by Matt Sullivan
illustration by Dave Dawson

The animal-rights movement faces its toughest challenge yet - stopping animal-on-animal violence.

It was the taboo topic no one in the animal-rights movement dared discuss - too radical even for the radicals. Yet animal-on-animal violence kills more animals than hunting and scientific experimentation combined. "It's so much easier - and more fun - to bust-up university labs and throw blood on people wearing fur," concedes one top PETA official. "It's a lot more difficult to address the genocide going on in the animal community."

But now, one pioneering activist has made stopping the violence in the wilderness his "pet" cause. Dan Cassidy is the heart, brain, body and soul behind what critics dub the "Increase the Peace Among the Beasts" crusade. It's hard to question Cassidy's credentials - this is the man, after all, whose college thesis argued that cave people were morally wrong to wear fur ("not holding Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons ethically accountable for their actions is condescending," he wrote). Cassidy's legacy was furthered when he convinced legions of vegetarians to add anything that even suggested it was an animal - Animal Crackers, Goldfish, Gummi Bears - to their list of dietary no-nos.

When I meet Dan Cassidy, he is lying naked in the deep forest, swarmed by mosquitoes. The mosquitoes land on his body and bite him by the hundreds. "Humans are part of the food chain, and I accept this," he offers, "so three times a week, I give them an 'all you can eat' special."

It seems hypocritical of you, I say, since you're trying to stop lions from eating gazelles. Isn't that the food chain? "Lions have options; their violence is taught by the jungle culture," Cassidy argues, "I'm looking forward to the challenge of helping lions 'go vegan'."

Cassidy and his cohorts face various obstacles, not the least of which are Mother Nature's baser instincts. "It's going to take a lot of protests and demonstrations to get this point across to all species," he speculates. Also high on Cassidy's agenda is stopping the "snuff films" the rest of us call nature documentaries. "The Discovery Channel should be V-chipped," he snaps.

If anyone can pull this off, it's Cassidy. "Hopefully, one day we can stop all cannibalism among Earth's creatures," he dreams aloud. In fact, Cassidy is so confident in his resolve that he's already planning his next life-saving endeavor. "Let's put it this way," he says, "Plants are people, too."


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