The Black Hills Travel Blog

PETA Says Spearfish = Sea Kitten

By • Jan 7th, 2009 • Category: Culture

An illustrated sea kitten (a.k.a. fish) from PETA

I’m not kidding: PETA — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – wants Spearfish High School to change its name to Sea Kitten High School.

The animal rights group sent a letter today to Spearfish High School Principal Steve Morford urging him to change the school’s name, part of PETA’s larger campaign to encourage everyone to refer to fish as sea kittens, instead of fish.

Their reasoning: If you think of fish as something warm and cuddly, not cold and scaly, you might be less apt to stab them with sharp hooks, cut them up and eat them. (It’s sort of anthropomorphism by proxy; creatures warm and cuddly evoke the kind of empathy that is normally reserved for human babies.)

“We’re hoping that by calling fish ‘sea kittens,’ compassionate people who would never hurt a dog or a cat will realize that fish feel pain and fear, just like furry and winged animals do,” PETA wrote in its letter to Principal Morford.

Why Spearfish High School? I called Pulin Modi, a very nice young man who is a spokesman for PETA. He explained that letters were sent to schools in Spearfish and Whitefish, Mont., because they are fish-named cities and because students have a natural interest in helping animals.

“We’re taking our message to kids because they are naturally drawn to being kind to animals,” he said.

The chances of a Sea Kittens name change actually happening?  I called Principal Morford this afternoon. “I can guarantee you that there is not any remote possibility that we’re going to change our name from anything other than the Spearfish Spartans,” he said.

And I’m trying to picture how macho young football player would react if he had to play for Sea Kitten High.”Go Kitties!

Modi said PETA harbors no illusions that either school will change its name, or that people will start calling fish sea kittens, but he hopes young people will start talking about and thinking about fish differently.

In fact, PETA conceded as much in a press release: “The suggestion is tongue-in-cheek – which beats a hook in the mouth any day.”

About the Author

is an on-again, off-again Black Hills resident since 1978. The Aberdeen native hit the road after high school, building houses in Boulder, working oil rigs on Colorado's Western Slope, delivering cars in California. In Wyoming and Idaho, he worked as a newspaper journalist. But the Black Hills kept luring him back. For 18 years, he wrote for the Rapid City Journal. The job gave him a chance to see the Hills from atop Mount Rushmore and the bottom of the Homestake Mine. Whenever possible, Dan grabs his dog Kody and heads to the Hills. These days, he's perfecting the art of low-impact backpacking: hike two hours to a scenic spot, break out the wine, cook up the pasta, watch the sunset and fall asleep under the stars.
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