Saturday, October 24, 2009

That Disturbing PETA Video: In What Way Was it "Edited," Ringling Bros.?

(original posting date lost)

Update, 8/1: To Anonymous: I have your latest missives. Considering the severity of your claims about widespread and pervasive alleged animal abuse (we have yet to hear from the Felds on how the PETA video was “deceptively edited”), your refusal to tell me who you are strikes me as an act of counter-productive cowardice. If I am as naive as you obviously believe I am, at least my name is clearly attached to my naivety. Now, when you assert that I have been fooled by "the publicity propaganda of the industry you idolize," I had to laugh. You seem not to have read this blog, otherwise you would have noted how critical I have been time and time again of many of the ways in which circuses are produced and promoted to the public. Your blanket generalizations, in fact, lead me to question your credibility and agenda. This is the last attention you will get from me, nor will I even read any future comments from you for monitoring unless I see your name along with the information I earlier requested: shows you have worked for and dates. And fair warning: Do not give me your name asking that I not use it, for I WILL.

Update, 7/31: To "Anonymous," who claims to have worked in the business on and off for 20 years before leaving it 13 years ago, and who makes damning accusations concerning animal abuse: This is too critical an issue to accept your comments without a name that I can check out and verify, so I have rejected your comment. If you wish to resubmit, including your name, and if I can confirm your alleged background, I will print your comments. Tell us what shows you have worked for and give us some dates. You say I am either "feigning ignorance for public consumption" or am genuinely ignorant. If I am ignorant, at least I have placed my name to my thoughts. If you are so strong in your feelings, why won't you tell us who you are?

It's not a fun thing to watch. Not a day at the circus I would wish upon anybody. I wondered if the clicking and loud cracking sounds were added by PETA.

I am in possession of the Ringling press release, forwarded to me by Don Covington, responding to a video secretly shot by a man who "posed as a stage hand for six months," according to the New York Daily News.

What is critically lacking in the press release are any specifics to support Feld Entertainment's claim that the disturbing video, which is receiving wide coverage, is "deceptively edited."

Just what the circus world does not want or need. And I am reminded of Kenneth Feld, under oath during a recent courtroom appearance, confessing that investigations of animal abuse at his own circus were not always reported to him. The surly actions of the handlers, which, yes, may have been edited, nonetheless do not convey the image needed to be conveyed. Nor should it benefit closing defense arguments now being heard in the court case filed by Tom Rider against Ringling that went to trial six weeks ago. Rider and a number of animal rights groups alleged "harming and harassing and wounding" the elephants.

What is so telling about the release is this statement: "Nevertheless, Ringling Bros. wants to insure the public that we take any allegations concerning animal care very seriously, no matter the source."

Say it isn't so.

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