Not long ago, PETA launched a “Fish Empathy” project. Which I’ll do my very best to treat seriously here … just for the halibut.

Citing research that shows fish communicate, feel pain, store memories, and even tend gardens, PETA is trying to convince anglers to quit. In January, after former President Carter chatted on the Tonight Show about hooking himself in the face, PETA wrote him a note: now you know how a fish feels. More recently, the organization asked Maine’s Bates College to disband its fishing club; bewildered club president Chester Clem, an environmental policy major, replied, “The club is just a bunch of guys who enjoy fishing.” It also petitioned my new favorite governor Dave Heineman of Nebraska to make the channel catfish, a state icon, off-limits to anglers. He declined.

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The website for this campaign does include some sobering reminders about mercury contamination and the like, but it’s so mixed in with the screeching and the pandering to the Christian right that it gets lost.

I’m sorry the fish are in pain. Really, I am! But somehow it’s hard to get worked up about this when there are, well, bigger fish to fry.

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