Overreact much?

Up in New Hampshire this past weekend, a winter carnival event was celebrating its 100th anniversary. Of course, once the presidential primaries are over, few people — and even fewer reporters — care about some winter festival in the snowy, chilly Granite State.

For the shills at PETA, however, this was a big-time opportunity to spew their vitriol.

That’s because publicity for the Newport Winter Carnival featured an event called “A Greased Pig on Ice.”

Talk about waving a red flag in front of a . . . .okay, that would constitute outrageous animal abuse, so let’s just say the phrase “greased pig” triggers an autonomic response among the always opportunistic PETA people: They just can’t help but try to capitalize on the situation.

Only in this case, there was no pig.

According to The Associated Press, the act was actually just Newport resident Glen Halleck dressed up in a pig costume with dollar bills tied to his tail. The idea was that kids on skates would chase the “pig” and try to grab some cash.

And the event organizers were careful to explain that distinction in response to an inquiry from PETA.

Steve Smith, an organizer of the 100th Newport Winter Carnival, said that he assured a PETA investigator in an email back on a Feb. 5 that “no animals would be harmed during the event.” PETA never challenged or questioned him about it before sending out a detailed email alert, he told AP. Their alert referenced “subjecting these highly sensitive animals to such a chaotic and violent ordeal rife with screaming participants.”

The email also mentioned capturing the pigs and stuffing them into barrels. As a result, Smith said he received some 100 angry emails from “concerned animal lovers.”

The ‘dumb defense’

Turns out that none of what PETA was protesting was ever scheduled to occur.

“How can they know what we’re doing if they never even bothered to ask what we’re doing?” Smith told reporters. “If they just asked, ‘What are your plans?’ I would have told them.”

(By the way, it’s gets really old watching the way media treats PETA with unwarranted respect. The headline on this story should have been something along the lines of “Pig fiasco bites animal activists,” but instead US News and World Report graciously softened their take to read, “Animal advocacy group has withdrawn its protest against a winter carnival.” Like PETA was the upstanding party.)

Of course, PETA falsely claimed that Smith didn’t clarify the nature of the event. But after backpedaling on its planned protest, a spokesperson tried to spin the “updated information” that the pig was a man as “excellent news” for the pigs.

Stephanie Bell, a director at PETA's cruelty investigations department, told AP that the organization receives more complaints about pig wrestling events than it does greased pig competitions. She said PETA has been successful over the past few years halting pig wrestling competitions scheduled to take place in Indiana and Mississippi.

"We’ve had only one greased pig complaint this year,” she bragged, “and that turned out to be a hoax.”

Yeah — the carnival in Newport this past weekend!

Only it wasn’t a “hoax,” it was an epic fail on the part of PETA.

Or was it? Does anyone believe that PETA actually made an “honest mistake?” I don’t. When anyone with a smart phone could have figured in 30 seconds out what was actually happening, to pretend that “we just didn’t know” the pig was a man is ludicrous.

The bottom line to this whole ridiculous non-event was yet another exposure of PETA’s leadership as the shallow, shameless publicity whores they truly are. 

Dan Murphy is a food-industry journalist and commentator