Prior to an appearance by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Grand Forks, North Dakota, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals promised to pull out all the stops to protest. In a press release, PETA promised,
PETA Beauty Bares All, Including Truth Behind CircusÂ’s Phony Claims
. . .
Wearing nothing but shackles and covered in “scars” as a result of violent “beatings”Â—an everyday reality for animals in circusesÂ—a woman will protest the arrival of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. She will be joined by protesters holding a banner that reads, “Shackled, Lonely, Beaten,” while others show footage of elephant beatings on body screen TVs and hold poster-size photos of animals who have died at RinglingÂ’s hands:
The woman turned out to be PETA activist Christy Griffin. According to a report by the Grand Forks Herald,
Around noon, the woman, wearing a dark robe, showed up with a fully clothed companion and proceeded to set up a big, black sign on the sidewalk: “Circus animals: shackled, lonely, beaten.”
Then, following in Lady Godiva’s footsteps, she disrobed and half lay before the sign, wearing nothing but a pair of briefs and metal shackles. Makeup made it look as if she had three big gashes on her back.
This, she seemed to say, is what a human would be like if she were a circus animal.
As you can see from a picture that appeared in the Grand Forks Herald, however, Christy Griffin is clearly not naked,
This led some passersby to accuse PETA of lying,
“She’s got panties on,” said retiree Pete Nikel, who also says he thinks PETA people are crazy. “If you say you’re going to be totally naked, you gotta be totally naked!”
Grand Forks Herald columnist Ryan Bakken added a few days later,
In order to draw attention, PETA had promised a naked woman protesting the treatment of circus animals. Since she wore the blanket and briefs, the nudity guarantee was a half-truth, proving she has a bright future in politics.
This was an outrage, as many truth-seeking citizens (men) had surrendered their lunch hour to learn about mistreatment of circus animals. And, well, without the nudity, she lost her credibility as an expert. What would a clothes-wearing person know about animal cruelty?
One Grand Forks sanitation truck drove by the downtown street corner several times in hopes of finding a naked, credible spokeswoman. Mistreatment of circus animals also must be a high priority of construction workers, judging by their numerous drive-by visits.
Circus: Chained to a cause. Tu-Uyen Tran, Grand Forks Herald, August 12, 2005.
PETA: GF circus protest will feature shackled, ‘beaten’ naked woman. Grand Forks Herald, August 11, 2005.
Half naked? We barely noticed. Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald, August 14, 2005.
Naked WomanÂ—Chained And Â‘BeatenÂ’Â—Protests RinglingÂ’S Arrival In Fargo. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, August 11, 2005.