By LARRY WOODY
After a Florida teenager almost lost a leg in a shark attack while spear-fishing, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) showed which side of the food chain it's on.
It produced a billboard showing a shark swimming off with a bloody human leg clutched in its jaws, and the inscription: "Payback is Hell!"
In other words, PETA gave the shark a big attaboy.
Manatee County, home of the seriously-injured youngster, refused to allow PETA to put up the billboard there, saying it was in bad taste (no pun intended) to praise a shark for eating a member of the human species.
PETA's response: hey, turnabout is fair play.
PETA designated nitwit Ashley Byrne, speaking over the whistle of air through the hole in her head in the space normally occupied by a brain, put it this way:
"With the shark attack in the news, we thought it'd be a good time to remind people that sharks are not the world's biggest predator - we are."
According to Ashley, Americans kill 12 billion fish annually for food. (Actually the total is now 12 billion and six. I caught six bluegills last week and had them for supper.)
I suppose if PETA finds out about my bluegill binge they'll picket my house wearing rubber fish suits and carrying placards that read, "Free Our Finny Friends!"
The way Ms. Byrne sees it, "People have a choice to be kind every time they sit down to a meal. We hope the billboard will lead to Floridians choosing a healthy Vegan diet."
(No, Vegans are not weird little people from the planet Vega. Vegans are weird little people from the planet Earth.)
They not only don't believe in eating meat or fish, they also balk at consuming any animal by-products such as milk or cheese. Just the thought of a cheese-grater gives Vegans nightmares. (The veggies eaten by Vegans were fertilized with a certain barnyard-animal by-product but they don't dwell on it.)
It's not just eating meat that makes PETA madder than a wet artichoke; it is opposed to even harming a fly.
A PETA guy fired off a snippy message to the White House after the President swatted a fly during a press. The Prez became irritated when he realized that not all the irritating buzzing was coming from Wolf Blitzer.
Flies have feelings too, and hopes and dreams and aspirations for a better life for their little pupas after they hatch on a dead horse and head out into the world on their own.
The PETA guy suggested that next time instead of resorting to violence, the President should invite the fly to Camp David and, over dinner, iron out their differences.
I'm kiddng. What he actually suggested was even wackier: the fly should have been trapped and gently released back into the outdoors to take its place in the natural order alongside rats, roaches, fleas and PETA people.
That's the kind of brain power that results from subsisting on bean sprouts and prune juice.
Back to the shark poster: Apparently the irony is lost on the PETA people. They don't want humans to eat fish but think it's OK for fish to eat humans. What does PETA think we're made of, tofu?
I'll make a deal with PETA. When it convinces sharks to stop eating meat and convert to vegetarianism, I will too.
I'll wait on the shore while Ashley swims out to deliver the message.