THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH BITES THE
If you’ve been to the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey
Circus in the last few years, you know that you have to run through a gauntlet
of animal rights protestors to get to the door.
These people stand on the sidewalk in front of the venue, holding up gruesome
pictures and handing out pamphlets they call “information about the
circus.” I told my girls not to take
anything those people tried to hand them.
I guess it’s good practice for their future visits to family planning
clinics, where you have to bypass the Righteous Mob to get your yearly pap
The most disturbing thing about our trip to the circus today
was not the protestors, but the distressing realization that the circus
sucked. It didn’t used to suck. At our last circus excursion a couple of
years ago I walked out very well pleased.
Today’s show was severely downsized. They curtained off a third of the arena, and
they presented only one act at a time.
The acts were all polished, perfect, and enjoyable to watch—but there
were fewer of them. At every other
circus show I’ve been to, something has been going on all the time. One act performs while the other rings are
prepared for upcoming acts. But today, a
large video screen occupied one wall, and while the floor was prepared for the
next act, pre-recorded video crap appeared.
That’s heinous enough, but to make matters worse, the circus
responded to the constant onslaught of protests across the country by
broadcasting their own anti-protest propaganda.
Cutesy cartoon elephants appeared onscreen to explain that while those
silly humans thought they were in charge, the elephants were really running the
show. This was followed by a skit on the
floor in which a (real) elephant is literally waited on by clowns at a faux
café. Then the cartoon elephants came
back and said that they weren’t really doing “tricks” when they marched in a
line holding each others’ tails and stood on their heads, that’s just what
elephants like to do.
Personally, I don’t have any ethical issues with performing
animals. I doubt the circus routinely
mistreats their animals, simply because it would not be cost-effective to do
so. Raising and training an elephant is
a very expensive proposition. Just our small herd of cats have cost us thousands of dollars. The hamster’s been pretty cheap, though.
Nevertheless, there is nothing “natural” about the behavior
of animals trained to perform tricks in an arena. Being whapped upside the head with this b.s.
message during the show annoyed the heck out of me.
The kids had a good time, and they look super-cute with
their rubber clown noses on, but we may have to find something else to do next
September, when the circus and the protestors come back to town.