Joan Jett, rock star and vegetarian, has been removed from a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float in response to protests of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association. Jett also is a recognized supporter of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which is the global leader of animal rights and promoter of vegetarian diets. This organization has become outspoken in its condemnation of factory farms and ranches.
Joan Jett is not the first PETA supporter to performed on floats in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Others have done so without controversy, including Lea Michele (“Glee,”) Alan Cumming and Carrie Underwood. However, in recent years, the meat and factory farming industries have found themselves under increased scrutiny about farming and ranching practices that harm the environment and result in cruelty to animals. These criticisms have included raising animals in pens, which cause disease and death from lying in excrement and waste, using antibiotics to control bacterial infections in animals that result from unhealthy penning, excess use of freshwater supply needed for farm animals and the increased carbon footprint attributable to ranching. These criticisms leave states, such as South Dakota, particularly vulnerable due to their heavy reliance on agriculture and livestock production. This industry is the heat of their economy.
PETA Senior Vice President, Dan Mathews, stated that the unprovoked reaction by the ranchers brings light to the efforts of PETA and the support of celebrities such as Joan Jett. He acknowledged that the :meat trade can’t stand any scrutiny of its cruelty.”
The promoters of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade have accommodated the protesters and Joan Jett. Jet and her band, the Blackhearts, are switching to another float, yet to be named.
Thanksgiving Day is a very important holiday in the United States, dating back to the arrival of Pilgrims in the new world. It traditionally has been characterized by a celebration of the harvest, with turkey— a bird native to North America, the centerpiece of the observance of the first event at Plymouth Plantation in 1621 in which the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians celebrated the first harvest of the colony. One can only imagine the differences these two groups had to set aside to have this party! Since 1924, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been integral to the winter holiday season, marking both the celebration of Thanksgiving, as well as officially ushering in the Christmas season.
Our upcoming winter holiday season is an opportune time for the green movement to promote its call for sustainability and environmental protection. It is important to the green movement that South Dakota ranchers reacted as they did, without provocation, to the plan for Joan Jett and her band to perform on their state float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, particularly in light of the significance of setting aside any differences on this day and focusing on being thankful for life, the earth and its bounty.
Perhaps our green movement is making some people uncomfortable and sparking feelings of guilty about harmful practices that negatively impact the environment. Hopefully, we all can come together, explore healthy ways to farm and ranch that will protect the earth and its inhabitants. To do so is to live green, be green.
Sources for this article:
- Joan Jett removed from parade float (cnn.com)