Phew. I spent a lot of time this weekend reviewing the hundreds of comments on Friday’s Michael Moore blog, and they’re still coming in! It’s pretty clear that this letter brought out some strong reactions in people—both positive and negative—and that’s always good. I figured it might be a good idea to elaborate on a few issues that have come up as a result of our publicizing Ingrid’s letter.
First of all, if you know Michael Moore, you know he can take it. Seriously. The guy is not going to cry himself to sleep because we offered him some diet advice. For anyone who has seen a Michael Moore documentary or read one of his books, you’ll know that he doesn’t pull punches when it comes to issues he’s passionate about, or miss an opportunity to take a potshot at those he disagrees with. Compared with the letters Michael Moore writes (see, for instance, this letter he wrote to the president), Ingrid’s letter was incredibly polite.
Secondly, I should probably provide a little context to our own relationship with Michael Moore—which goes back a long way. We’ve written to him several times over the years, starting back in the days of Roger & Me with ever-so-polite appeals to embrace animal rights. We don’t hold it against him, but the only response we ever got from him was when his people showed up outside the PETA building with a donkey, two goats, two sheep, a rabbit, a chicken, three dogs, a fish in a bowl(!), a guinea pig, two gerbils, and a rat in a cage “wearing” offensive signs, like “You are wasting your lives.” He arranged to haul these animals out on a hot day to taunt hard-working people just to get a cheap laugh for his show. In addition to that little stunt, whose real victims didn’t even have the luxury of understanding what was happening to them, Michael Moore has made comments throughout his career glorifying meat-eating and hunting, and mocking people who care about animals. Now, neither I nor any of my colleagues take those comments personally—we dish it out, and we can take it. But, like I said, so can Michael Moore.
Michael Moore has never responded with anything but sneering to PETA’s requests that he address animal protection issues in one of his documentaries, but we’re not giving up hope. And, even if he ignores this particular attempt to reach him in his own style—playful and provocative at the same time—we hope that some of the people who hear about this story will get the message: A vegetarian diet is the compassionate choice, it’s the healthy choice, and it’s the right choice—for us and for animals. I’m glad that this letter has given us the opportunity to say that again.
P.S. Judging from some of the comments I read yesterday, I should probably also point out for a few people that “elephant in the room” is an expression that means “an important issue that people are avoiding.” Not, like, an actual pachyderm in someone’s living space. Like this one.