Commentary: PETA hits a new credibility low

Animal activists always have been among the most extreme advocates of a cause.

Mainstream groups have pursued all kinds of protests and civil actions in the pursuit of protecting animals. More extreme splinter groups sometimes cross the line into illegal activities, including arsons and break-ins at laboratories and assaults on fur-clad humans.

For years now, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has been on the vocal fringe of the so-called mainstream activist groups, taking on battles with cultural institutions from rodeos to circuses over the treatment of animals.

The merits of PETA's arguments are up for debate, but one result is that animal welfare policies are now de rigueur for many groups dealing with livestock and other animals as part of their livelihoods.

But lately, PETA's over-the-top agenda may be doing the organization more harm than good.

The group recently took on the fish throwers at the Pike Place Fish Market. Few icons rank higher on the list of things that scream Seattle than these fish-tossing countermen.

They entertain tourists and showcase local products from the heart of the venerable Pike Place Market.

Beyond the theatrics and entertainment involved at the fish stand, the company has spawned another industry: motivational corporate training seminars and books.

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