In the FAQ section on its website, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals uses 225 words to answer the question “Why does PETA use controversial tactics?,” when really just 15 would do. “We try to make our actions colorful and controversial, thereby grabbing headlines around the world,” the organization says, insisting that, since it has no real advertising, it relies on the media to spread its animal-loving message.
Well, here we are, writing about PETA’s latest cruelty-free thirst trap. Last week, a Cozy Harbor Seafood truck carrying 7,000 pounds of live lobster overturned on Route 1 in Brunswick, Maine, scattering 60 to 70 crates across the highway. The Portland Press-Herald estimated that 4,500 lobsters were killed in the crash—but it also sort of shrugged and reminded Mainers that the state harvested 110 million pounds of lobster last year.
PETA, though, is not content to let them go to that Big Lobster Pot in the sky. It quickly contacted the Maine Department of Transportation, asking for permission to memorialize those late lobsters by erecting a five-foot tall granite tombstone with a giant lobster engraved on its right-hand side. "In Memory of the Lobsters Who Suffered and Died at This Spot" it said, just above the words “Try Vegan.”
"Countless sensitive crustaceans experienced an agonizing death when this truck rolled over and their bodies came crashing down onto the highway," PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman wrote in an email to the DOT. “PETA hopes to pay tribute to these individuals who didn't want to die with a memorial urging people to help prevent future suffering by keeping lobsters and all other animals off their plates.”
As far as the crash—the non-crustacean driver of the truck had minor injuries—Brunswick Police Detective William told WGME that he’d never seen anything like it before. "Some lobsters were loose on the ground from being spilled over so we went to work to save the ones we could." (Cozy Harbor sent a second truck to collect the living lobster, but they were considered unmarketable, after being unrefrigerated for several hours and exposed to rainfall.)
The DOT received PETA’s request, and then politely declined it, citing safety concerns. “Route 1 in Brunswick is a Controlled-Access Highway, meaning this section of highway is controlled from development and all forms of signs are prohibited along these corridors,” Jim Bullings, the DOT’s Chief Counsel wrote. “There are various reasons for the prohibition of signs, and in your case, a tombstone memorial, but the main reason is safety.”
That should be the end of it, but it’s not, because PETA. They contacted the DOT again, asking what the closest possible (and permissible) location for the tombstone might be. According to the Press-Herald, this isn’t the first time PETA has tried to get granite memorials for non-human crash victims, including “hundreds of fish” in Irvine, California; “hundreds of terrified turkeys” in Sioux City, Iowa; and a proposed five-foot granite headstone to memorialize Nebraskan hogs headed to slaughter. To date, none of those memorials have ever gone beyond the “BUT LOOK AT THIS .JPG” stage. (Incredibly, PETA was not involved in the roadside vigil for a chicken killed in a truck crash in Delaware.)
"I'm not cruel to animals but that goes way too far [...] We don't even put monuments up for people who die,” Maine resident Janie Roy told WGME. "What's the difference between them falling on the road and dying, or being thrown in boil hot water? We eat them every single day, [and] either way, they're dead lobsters."
Ohhh, Janie, Janie, Janie. PETA is pissed about that too. Earlier this summer, they bought $3,000 worth of ads at the Portland International Jetport, urging visitors who were probably there for the Maine Lobster Festival not to attend the Maine Lobster Festival.
Honestly, we can’t decide if PETA needs to keep that section of its FAQ or not. We’re on to you, People.