Under the cover of darkness, a gallant band of commandos found a way into a concentration camp dedicated to genocide, and freed hundreds of the prisoners.
This did not happen in some faraway tyrannical nation; it happened in the wee hours of Wednesday morning right here in Pennsylvania, a few miles north of Johnstown. Golly, I cruise through that area every time I visit Cambria County, oblivious to mass murder, and it always seems as pleasant as can be.
As reported Friday by themorningcall.com, the raid targeted hundreds of cages at the mink farm that George Rykola has operated for nearly 60 years. Police officers and others soon spotted mink galloping here and there, as best they could on their short little legs.
"They come in and they told me mink was running around all over the place," Rykola was quoted as saying.
A group called Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the Great Weasel Escape, and Cambria Township police Chief Mark Westrick said he is investigating, but commandos who fight to free animals are rarely punished.
"If we're able to, we absolutely would file charges, if we were able to track down the people responsible," Westrick said.
I'm not sure why it's so hard to find them. The Animal Liberation Front is not shy, and its website displays a big photograph of its hooded commandos with an enjoinder to "Support Our Troops." The organization's official credo begins, "The Animal Liberation Front carries out direct action against animal abuse in the form of rescuing animals and causing financial loss to animal exploiters, usually through the damage and destruction of property."
The website boasts of various mink farm raids across the United States and Canada and notes other actions against people who enslave cows. "Last week we paint-bombed six of their dairy billboards [pushing] milk propaganda," it joyfully announces.
I have never engaged in mink murder, nor in any indirect exploitation of those adorable little creatures, but my wife has.
When I first met her, she was a highly skilled seamstress, which eventually put her in the employ of various furriers, first in the Harrisburg area and then in the Lehigh Valley. I hasten to add that she no longer does that kind of work, so I hope the hooded commandos don't come after her.
Actually, the mink coat business in America is pretty much kaput, so the Rykola mink farm and similar operations are almost entirely devoted to exporting pelts to places like Greece and China, it was reported in themorningcall.com story.
The creation of mink coats, of course, requires mink massacres first, hence the Cambria County commando raid. I am not completely sure, however, how many of the furry darlings will go on to enjoy long lives.
It's my understanding that mink are the favorite prey of foxes and great horned owls, so the main consequence may be to fatten up a few of those predators around Cambria County, thanks to the slowness of critters accustomed to the easy (albeit short) life on a mink farm.
As long as authorities cannot catch Animal Liberation Front commandos, we may as well resign ourselves to a future free of any animal exploitation. We may as well be inspired by the Cambria County raid.
If animal products like mink coats are going to be taboo, the principle must apply to all such products.
There can be no leather belts, shoes, wallets or purses, and the haggis-eating orgies at the Celtic Classic, now winding up in Bethlehem, will be replaced by asparagus-eating contests. (Having tried haggis just once in my life, I must say the animal rights zealots may have a point on that one.)
On the other hand, it is distressing to think that my favorite restaurant in the whole world, the In-N-Out Burger joint in Woodland Hills, Calif., will be gone forever.
With animal rights transcending human rights, we must stop all medical research that could cause harm to mice or fruit flies.
In the past, I've upset the animal rights crowd by saying I value the lives of some trees more than the lives of certain dogs. Virginia Wolfe, president of the Lehigh Valley Animal Rights Coalition, once attacked my "insipid drivel and paranoid diatribe" about dangerous dogs, and my "constant mad-dog attacks on animals and those of us concerned with their welfare."
Another local animal rights advocate explained to me a few years ago that no plant can be valued more than a dog because plants do not have central nervous systems. By that logic, I argued, a flea's life is just as precious as that of a dog, or a mink.
Anyway, guided by the moral rectitude of the mink rescuers of Cambria County, I now understand why we ultimately must stop the murder of all creatures with central nervous systems, including rats, termites, mosquitoes, ticks and fleas.
If you or your dog is infested, that discomfort is a small price to pay for the survival of a sentient flea. Poisoning a flea to death cannot be any more pleasant than is the final day of a mink.
I hope the animal rights people and their commandos can see that I'm now on their side. In fact, I might be willing to join them the next time they stage a raid to sabotage a store that sells flea powder. Now, where did I put my hood?
Paul Carpenter's commentary appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays