Save the Cute Animals!

The inside story on protests against dog-eating, foie gras-enjoying, and fur-wearing

Protest No. 2 -- Anti-Foie Gras

I had no idea what foie gras was until I decided to protest it. Ducks are force-fed until they are so large they can barely move and can only waddle (kind of like Ralphie May of Last Comic Standing). They are crammed into a pen to wallow in their own filth (again, like Ralphie May of Last Comic Standing). Then their livers become so enlarged they turn diseased. Apparently, when made into pâté, these diseased livers are, according to gourmet chefs, an expensive delicacy and very delicious. (Ralphie May, of Last Comic Standing, must have a very delicious liver.)

Level of Adorable-ness of Animal at Hand: 8

The ad:

Please join IDA, Viva! USA, Farm Sanctuary, and Animal Place at an educational outreach event outside of this "special dinner," the actual intention of which is to justify and promote egregious cruelty to animals.

I'm told via e-mail, "It will be a peaceful event."

Yeah, right. Foie gras protesters have been known in the past to vandalize the cars of chefs, pour cement into restaurant sinks, and leave the water running at food establishments selling the product, as well as videotaping the family of a known foie gras producer, then sending it to him as an eerie warning.

This is going to be great. I love direct, angry protester confrontation. I imagine it to be like a modern version of Kent State, only instead of the Vietnam War, it's foie gras. Dramatic conflict makes for a great protest!

Eighteen people, mostly kindly older women, stand outside the Dining Room restaurant in San Mateo. Are these kindly older women the ones who poured cement into the sinks and vandalized a chef's car?! Besides me, the only other guy in attendance looks like he's here because his wife made him come. Every five minutes he switches to a new protest sign.

Without fanfare, or an introduction, I grab a sign, start vigorously waving it, and file in.

Quality of Protest Signs: 10-plus

The signs are first rate. There's a wide variety -- all mounted on sticks, all graphically gruesome, each offering different sayings:

"HOW MUCH CRUELTY CAN ONE SWALLOW"

"WHY PET SOME AND EAT OTHERS" (Good question, but it brings up others: Why let some run around a racetrack and place wagers on them and eat others? Why ride some at a summer camp in northern Wisconsin and eat others? Those would take one hell of a large sign, of course.)

"IT SUCKS FOR DUCKS" (Nice use of rhyming.)

"They're serving a 12-course meal, consisting entirely of duck," explains the cute protesting girl next to me. "Even the dessert is duck."

"Like duck sherbet? Or ducksickles?!"

Ducks made into dessert. That's going way too far. I start vigorously waving my "No Foie Gras" sign.

People drive by; some slow down, honk, and give the thumbs up. Others flip us off.

"I'd feel bad if we caused an accident," exclaims one of the kindly ladies.

A high school couple, dressed in prom formalwear, walks by.

"I don't want to go by there," I hear the date say as she approaches. "It scares me."

They're handed a flier.

Quality of Fliers: 9

"Foie Gras -- Cruelty Revealed" -- this is good, a tag line that sounds like a Dateline special investigative report.

A Chinatown mainstay is the classic whole duck hanging in the Chinese restaurant window. To add insult to injury, the browned, skin-still-on, dead ducks are hung in the window on a hook, to be viewed like Uday and Qusay shoved in front of cameras on U.S. television. But that form of duck abuse barely raises a protester eyebrow when it comes to the anti-foie gras crowd.

"There's so much violence in the world," a reporter is told by one protester. "This is one step against it you can personally do."

The reporter comes over for my comment on the restaurant serving foie gras.

"It's a delicacy of despair," I say in the perfect soundbite. She jots that down. I continue.

"It's gourmet cruelty." She writes that down.

"Foie gras leaves a bad taste in my mouth! It's a deadly dinner! A plate of hate!" She keeps writing.

"Foie gras is for quacks! Go Niners!" I throw out for no reason.

I tell another reporter, "Not only do we have to boycott foie gras, but also Rocky Mountain oysters. Farmers force the animals' testicles to swell to three times their normal size. Not to mention cow brains, which leaves the animal completely disoriented."

Quality of Protest Video: 9

Great video! It features hidden camera footage, professionally edited with clean, voice-over narration. The protesters from Korea's illegal dog and cat trade could take a page from the anti-foie gras group. Very artfully done in cinéma vérité style.

Really, though, I think the best part of being an animal rights protester is the abundance of cute, flirty, college-age girls.

"Do you want to share this with me?" says one who's holding a newly issued foie gras statement from the restaurant.

"Yes, I do. I do indeed. I'm against foie gras, too," I say and move in closer.

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