You could fill entire book chapters with all the crazy, ill-advised, destructive stunts that animal activists have pulled off in recent years. Few, however, would qualify as being more wrongheaded and counterproductive as what a group of idiots calling themselves Iowans for Animal Liberation did this past weekend.
You want to sway regular people to your cause? You want to turn hearts and minds among the farm families and rural residents of one of the nation’s most agriculturally important—and politically conservative—states?
Then don’t mess with the Butter Cow.
This past weekend, according to several news reports, members of the self-styled Iowans for Animal Liberation hid inside the Iowa State Fair’s Agriculture Building, which houses the famous Butter Cow. The perpetrators broke into the refrigerated display case and vandalized the cow and the case with gallons of red paint. They spray-painted the phrase “Freedom for all” on the window of the display (see photo).
To fully understand the depths of the outrage that act of vandalism provoked, consider that a life-size cow sculpted out of butter has been part of the Iowa State Fair for more than a century. The tradition started in 1911, and a succession of only five sculptors since then has carried on the tradition right up until the present.
This year’s sculptor, Sarah Pratt, began—as always—with a wood, metal, wire and steel mesh frame and about 600 lbs. of low-moisture Iowa butter. Inside a 40-degree walk-in cooler, she applied layers of butter until a life-size butter cow was built, standing 5½ feet tall and 8 feet long.
According to the fair’s PR department, the 660-pound Butter Cow could butter 19,200 slices of toast and would take an average person two lifetimes to consume. Much of the butter used in sculpting the cow is recycled and reused, some of it for up to 10 years.
As is usually the case, after their dirty deed was done, the activists quickly took credit for the vandalism (in truly modern fashion) by sending an email to NBC affiliate WHO Channel 13 Television in Des Moines. In it, they said that “The red paint represented the blood of 11 billion animals murdered each year.”
Reaction—negative reaction—was swift in coming.
Columnist and chef Kurt Michael Friese posted a stinging commentary on The Huffington Post (“The Malicious, Hypocritical Vegan Fringe Strikes Again”), writing, “Did any of the perpetrators honestly believe that this was going to attract a single solitary soul over to their point of view? If they did, then they are every bit as stupid as they seem. This point is driven home all the more by the fact that the paint they used very likely contained a binder called casein, which is derived from—wait for it—mammalian milk! The very same dairy products they were supposedly ‘protesting.’ ”