A good advertisement is designed to grab people's attention, but PETA's recent campaign to stop fishing has some fishermen, very much including MSNBC's Tucker Carlson, pretty annoyed.
PETA is distributing leaflets that show an angry cartoon father figure ripping apart a fish. Plastered over the picture in big letters, it says, "Your Daddy Kills Animals."
On Tuesday, Carlson welcomed Bruce Friedrich, PETA's director of farmed animal campaigns to as he said, "defend the indefensible."
To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.
TUCKER CARLSON: I'm offended by this. I can't believe actually that you put this out. This is an attack on fathers aimed at children. How could you do this?
BRUCE FRIEDRICH: Well, Tucker, it's an attack on cruelty to animals, and our point is very, very serious. If you fish, I can see how you'd be offended by it, because fishing supports cruelty to animals. If you wouldn't take a hook and put it through a dog's mouth and drag that animal behind the car, you shouldn't do that to fish.
CARLSON: Well, there are so many false statements in your last sentence, let me just pick them apart one by one.
First, I want to talk about this comic book ... "Your Daddy Kills Animals." In here you have lines like this, "Since your daddy is teaching you the wrong lessons about right and wrong, you should teach him fishing is killing. Until your daddy learns it's not fun to kill, keep your doggies and kitties away from him. He's so hooked on killing defenseless animals, they could be next."
I assume you have no children, right? You couldn't. Nobody with children would put this out, because that's the kind of thing that gives kids nightmares. I mean, seriously, your daddy's going to kill your dog? Come on.
FRIEDRICH: Tucker, we focus grouped the ad. Kids get it. If you watch MTV, you go to the web sites that kids like, even watch Saturday morning cartoons, this is the sort of hyperbole that kids really like. But it makes a serious point, scientifically, biologically. Fish feel pain in the same way that dogs and cats feel pain. Cruelty to fish is no more morally justifiable than is cruelty to dogs or cats.
CARLSON: What about cruelty to children and their fathers? I'm serious. I'm totally serious. Why go -- why go after kids? Why go after kids? Why? You have an adult point to make. Why not change adult minds?
FRIEDRICH: Well, I think it's important to go after both, but kids get it. We focus-grouped the comic book with kids. Kids, to a kid, thought that it was fantastic. And unlike a lot of the other things that were being focused-grouped, kids could, after reading it, they remembered what they had read, because it was appealing and it was interesting.
CARLSON: Bruce, even in Washington, a focus group is not a moral justification. I don't care what your focus group said. How about common sense? How about you don't accuse parents of wanting to kill the family pet? I mean, that's so sick. That's so over the top. Totally serious, actually.
FRIEDRICH: I know you're totally serious, but you're underestimating these kids. I worked for more than six years in a homeless shelter for families. I spend a lot of time around kids. You're underestimating them.
CARLSON: I've got four kids. Don't lecture me about kids. I know I would-if someone slipped this under my door, I'd punch them out. I couldn't handle it.
FRIEDRICH: You as a fisherman don't like it.
CARLSON: Hold on, first of all, I'm a fisherman who doesn't ever kill fish. I not only unhook the fish on barbless hooks, but I you know, do my best not to kill them, and they rarely die. I'm not attempting to justify my own fishing. I don't need to.
Here's the point I want to make, though, and it's a public policy point. Fishermen help and save fish populations. Where do you think the money from fishing licenses goes? It goes to save wetlands, inland wetlands in this country, and it goes to repopulate streams, brooks, and lakes with fish. That's why we have a lot of fish because of fishermen, period. It's true.
FRIEDRICH: Tucker, fish feel pain in the same way as dogs and cats. Impaling them on hook supports cruelty to animals, and it's not justifiable. Additionally, eating fish rots your brain. The Environmental Protection Agency says that if you eat fish as few as two times...
CARLSON: You're switching from topic to topic.
FRIEDRICH: Yes, but if we're going to be talking about what we should be offended about, we should be offended that the Environmental Protection Agency isn't telling you that if you're feeding your kid fish, you're feeding them poison.
CARLSON: Hold on. Hold on. Without getting, if you feed your kid poisoned fish, you're feeding them poison.
CARLSON: If you're feeding them unpoisoned fish, you're not. But look, I don't...
FRIEDRICH: If you're feeding your kid tuna or salmon or fish sticks, you're feeding your kid poison.
CARLSON: Now you're attacking. Now you're attacking.
FRIEDRICH: The 'Wall Street Journal' front page piece about a kid who was eating tuna sandwiches on a daily basis. He went from being an honor student to being in remedial reading. He went from being a jock to being unable to catch a football. Front page, "Wall Street Journal," August 1.
CARLSON: It must be true. It was in the newspaper. Of course it's true. Come on, Bruce, you know that. It's axiomatic.
FRIEDRICH: Tucker, it's based on the Environmental Protection Agency saying that if you eat any fish as few as two times a week, you will have measurable decrease in your cognitive function.
CARLSON: I guess I'm just amazed, as I have been before. I've interviewed Ingrid Newkirk, the head of your organization. And I'm sympathetic. I love animals. I have a lot of animals.
FRIEDRICH: Thank you.
CARLSON: Unlike Ingrid Newkirk, who has no animals, incidentally.
FRIEDRICH: The point is, she cares for...
CARLSON: Yes, she cares, but she doesn't have any. The point -- the point I'm making, you're very concerned about the feelings of fish. But you don't care at all about the feelings of kids, or their parents.
FRIEDRICH: That's not fair.
CARLSON: No, it's totally fair. You're putting out this garbage. If you cared, you wouldn't.
FRIEDRICH: Tucker, kids like it. You're underestimating them. Kids like it. It's focused on kids age 12 and up, and it speaks to them in a language that they understand. No kids are going to be traumatized by this. Kids, to a kid, think it's fantastic and retain the information.
CARLSON: Don't send it to my house, Bruce.
FRIEDRICH: OK, I won't.
CARLSON: I wouldn't care for it one bit. I appreciate you coming on anyway.
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