Sunday, July 10, 2005

save naked chimps! marriage rights for gay whales!

I don't consider myself an activist. I sign all the online petitions I agree with, and I give a little money here and there to liberal groups. But I've never been to a rally. I don't organize or protest. I'll freely admit that part of the reason is that I'm a bit lazy and ill-informed when it comes to politics, but the other part is the belief that every issue is shrouded in shades of grey. Activist groups are headed by people who see only black and white, who are so passionate about their cause they have difficulty understanding other points of view.

I don't consider myself a True Believer regarding any issue, and will even go so far as to say that most of the evils in this world are committed by fundamentalists (on any side).

However, there is one issue to which I am firmly wedded--one cause that will make me stop and listen, when otherwise I might find myself too "busy" to talk to the people with the clipboards--and that is animal rights.

I've been a vegetarian for eight years now. I'm not a card-carrying member of any group, but in my own way I effect the lives of our furry friends on a daily basis.

So, yesterday, when I see a woman at a table with a "SUPPORT ANIMAL RIGHTS" sign on Boylston Street, I go to talk to her.

"What's this about?" I ask in a curiously friendly tone.

"Well, we're lobbying--you do know what that means, right?" Hmm, I think, she seems awfully snippy for someone asking for help.

"It means to create laws," she finishes. I let it pass that unless she's a politician of some sort, she's not going to be creating any laws.

"We're asking for your help to support animal rights. What I need from you today is a ten dollar donation. Can you agree to that right now?"

Okay, that's a bit aggressive.

"Well, what exactly are you trying to do?"

And with a look that says she feels sorry for my unborn children she says, "We're creating laws to protect animals."

"I know that," I say, looking more closely at the table she's working from, "but can you tell me what laws you're trying to create to protect animals?" I notice a vaguely official-looking paper on a clipboard with no signatures and an article with a picture of a sad-eyed puppy and a large sign that says "SAVE HOMELESS KITTENS" flanking the front of the table.

"Look--" An uncomfortable expression comes over her face and she picks up her sign again. "I'm very busy here. Do you have the ten dollars or not?"

I look around to make certain that indeed, we are alone, and still my naive need to give the benefit of the doubt kicks in. "Well, if you want my ten dollars, you're going to have to tell me where it's going."

"I don't have time for this," she hisses and has already turned away from me. "SUPPORT ANIMAL RIGHTS!" I hear as I walk away, and only then do I realize it was all a scam.

I really hope that no other animal-loving do-gooder fell for her crap. I'd hate to think of that money going to pay for her next BigMac.

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