When I think of Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin, he’s the ruthless real estate office manager in Glengarry Glen Ross or “Cucumber” Frank de Marco in Married to the Mob. He’s definitely not the guy talking in this radio public service announcement:
“I grew up loving the circuses and other traveling animal shows,” Baldwin explains. “But it never occurred to me what life might be like for the animals. Training wild animals to do things they don’t understand takes force. Routine discipline with a hook or a whip or the heel of a boot shows the animal exactly who’s the boss. Don’t patronize animal acts. Please contact People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (757-622-PETA).”
Like lots of people, I’m not ready to live the life that PETA wants me to live. I’m not prepared to go vegan, stop eating lobster, oppose all animal research, or tell a nine year old kid that we’re not going to the circus or zoo. But all of us should be ready to think and talk about what PETA asks. And PETA radio PSAs, downloadable in mp3 form here, offer an easy way to get that conversation started on the air. Here’s comedian Dick Gregory making Alec Baldwin’s point in his own unique style.
“The fight against oppression is never an easy one—it’s even harder if you have no voice. For animals held captive in circuses, life consists of cramped cages, shackles, and daily beatings. There is no escape. They cannot demand their freedom. Images like these bring only one word to mind—slavery. Be an abolitionist for the animals. Please don’t go to circuses. Thank you.”
I’ll admit that, being a celebrity conscious kind of guy, part of the draw of these PSAs for me is who is reading them. Whenever I think of William Shatner trying to be convincing, he’s Captain Kirk confronting some alien woman, insisting that “We’re human! We have emotions!” But here’s Shatner on a PETA PSA, talking about being human in a very different vein:
“Animals are often left behind by people fleeing hurricanes, fires, floods, and earthquakes. These abandoned animals cannot survive on their own. If you must evacuate your home, please never leave an animal behind. If you absolutely cannot take your animal with you, never leave him or her helplessly chained or caged. Many animals die because they cannot escape fires or rising waters. Animals need your help. Call PETA today at 757-622-7382 or log onto HelpingAnimals.com for more information. Thank you.”
PETA has dozens of PSAs like this. Many of them are no brainers: New York Giants defense player Michael Strayan urging listeners not to chain their dog outside in the cold; Charlize Theron on why you should not buy dogs at shopping malls; and American Idol talent judge Simon Cowell on keeping your pet out of hot cars.
Then there are the tougher sells, like vegetarianism and it’s even more stringent cousin, veganism. When I conjure up images of Casey Affleck, he’s the home town detective in Gone Baby Gone, not this voice:
“When people ask me why I don’t eat meat, or any other animal products, I say because they’re unhealthy, and they’re the product of a violent and inhumane industry. Chickens, cows, and pigs in factory farms spend their whole live in filthy cramped conditions, only to die a prolonged and painful death. Their bodies are then turned into food products proven to contribute to heart disease and cancer. To eat that is to eat poison. Please don’t contribute to an industry that makes unhealthy products by torturing animals.”
You don’t have to agree with PETA to be concerned about the many issues the organization raises. If you’ve got a local, call-in show and want to wake up your audience, these PSAs are sure to bring in a wide range of opinion.
I think my favorite comes from Fred Schneider of the B52s. “I’ve always sung the praises of lobsters,” he declares. “And it really burns my butt when people take them and drop them in a pot of boiling water. So take off those bibs and skip the lobster festival. Go to the beach instead. The sand is crawling with bright red, slow moving creatures to enjoy. They’re called sunburned tourists.”
“For more on lobsters,” Schneider concludes, “visit PETA online. Thanks!”
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