Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

I PETA the Fool

Just when you thought the JonBenet Ramsey murder case had everything -- a pint-sized beauty queen, a bogus Santa Claus, a ransom note right out of Matlock and, finally, a suspect with a yen for confessing and wearing eyeliner -- another player enters the picture.


Yes, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has joined the circus with a letter sent Tuesday to Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca, requesting that John Mark Karr be put on a violence-free, vegetarian diet.

"It's been found that many serial killers have a background history of torturing animals," wrote PETA VP Bruce Friedrich in the memo reproduced below. "Feeding inmates bean burritos rather than baby back ribs might just help break the cycle of violence."

And result in a very smelly cell. Still, no more garlicky shrimp and champagne for you, pal. -- Patricia Calhoun

The PETA memo:

Dear Sheriff Baca,

On behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), I am writing to ask that you put John Mark Karr on an exclusively vegetarian diet.

As you may know, Mr. Karr's final meals before being put into your custody included roast duck and foie gras, the latter of which is produced by ramming a pipe down birds' throats and force-feeding them until their livers become so grossly distended that the birds have trouble moving. Mr. Karr's meals supported cruelty to animals that would warrant felony charges were dogs or cats abused in the same ways.

Undercover investigations at America's two leading foie gras producers revealed that ducks were kept isolated in wire cages so small that the birds could barely move. Barrels full of dead ducks who had choked to death or whose organs had ruptured during force-feeding were also discovered. Day-to-day operations in such places are enough to make even seasoned crime scene investigators feel queasy.

Mr. Karr is alleged to be a child pornographer, and we have all heard his statement about JonBenet Ramsey. Regardless of his guilt or innocence, please don't let Mr. Karr be responsible for the death of even one more living being. Please feed him something other than the remains of factory-farmed animals. In fact, keeping meat off all inmates' plates could help killers lose their taste for blood. As you know, many violent sociopaths, including Jeffrey Dahmer and Timothy McVeigh, started out as animal abusers, and all the school shooters and serial killers of recent years have a history of torturing animals for the feeling of power it gave them. Feeding inmates bean burritos rather than baby back ribs might just help break the cycle of violence.

Some of the world's greatest visionaries, including Albert Schweitzer, Mohandas Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy, and Albert Einstein, advocated vegetarianism as an extension of humanitarianism. Nonviolence begins in the kitchen -- in this case, it can begin in the prison kitchen.

Other animals feel every bit as much pain as we do, they are horrified at the sight and smells of the slaughterhouse, and they're afraid to die. Like human beings, they fight for their lives and wish to avoid pain. Unlike the humans in the prison system, all of them are innocent.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Bruce Friedrich Vice President, International Grassroots Campaigns

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun