One of the many reasons I was drawn to Catholicism is that the church has such a thing as a “patron saint of lost causes.” (That would be Saint Jude, for those interested). I said a prayer to St. Jude when I heard about PETA activist Sheri Pierson, who earlier today posed topless and body-painted in a cage on a downtown FW streetcorner to protest Ringling Bros’ upcoming series of Convention Center circus performances.
It takes an XXL-sized set of cojones – and a certain charming dementedness – to champion an unpopular cause, especially the treatment of animals in a city that either A) has a proud history built on the family cattle business or B) has a blood-soaked legacy of animal exploitation, depending on which placard you’re carrying. Street protests can be so strident and self-entitled. Pierson’s was more along the lines of street theater, a refreshing combo of naughty and polite.
I enjoy a nice rare cut of beef, so I doubt I’d be embraced by the PETA faithful. But I have also long been fascinated by the secret lives of elephants, especially their apparent capacity to grieve. You can argue – successfully or not — that some animal protein is necessary for a healthy human diet, but are circuses really vital to civilization? When you’ve got three rings going simultaneously and there’s nothing clever in any of them, it’s time to pack up the tent and confess the truth: More people are in love with the idea of “The Circus” than with its reality. Personally, I always reach for a zantac whenever Bello shows his vaguely phallic head on a TV commercial.