After former U.S. president Jimmy Carter appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and described how he was accidentally hooked on the face while fishing, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals fired off a letter urging Carter to give up his “cruel” habit of fishing.
Karin Robertson, PETA’s Fish Empathy Project Manager, wrote to Carter saying,
I am writing on the behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the world’s largest animal rights organization, with more than 800,000 members and supporters worldwide. I am writing to ask you to please consider recent research indicating that fish are as intelligent as dogs and cats and to most respectfully ask that you take up hiking, bird-watching, or boating without your rod and reel as an alternative to fishing, which causes the animals on the end of the line immeasurable agony.
I have grown up deeply impressed by your dedication to making the world a kinder, better place. Your post-presidential missions, both internationally and domestically, rightly impress the entire world. That’s why we are optimistic that our plea on behalf of other species will fall on sympathetic ears.
I heard you discussing, on Jay Leno’s program, how you were hooked through the face while fishing and the agony of having the hook pulled out of your face while you were held down. Our hope is that this experience may have given you a little insight into the fish’s point of viewÂ–every hooked fish experiences the physical agony that you went through.
Beyond the fact that fish feel pain in the same way and to the same degree that you and I do, please consider that fish are also interesting individualsÂ–as worthy of our concern as any dog or cat, animals you would never deliberately hook through the mouth, of course.
Bruce Friedrich chimed in that unlike Carter, fish “can’t go to the hospital” for their injuries (well, if they’d get jobs and a decent health plan . . .)
PETA has a beef with Jimmy Carter’s fishing. U.S. News and World Report, January 10, 2005.
PETA Encourages President Jimmy Carter to Show Fish Some Empathy! Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Undated.