PETA is excited to announce that Joe Arpaio, the notoriously racist Arizona sheriff who fancies himself “the world’s toughest,” is now on their preferred list after he switched the jail’s food over to a vegetarian menu. Even Pam Anderson’s on board! But has everyone forgotten that Joe Arpaio is anti-immigrant and has been court ordered to rectify his department’s racial profiling issues? Or that he’s treated pregnant human inmates in ways that PETA would find unacceptable if Arpaio’s charges were animals instead of human beings?
According to Think Progress, PETA is praising Arpaio for making his jail the first in the country that’s all vegetarian. PETA’s senior vice president, Dan Mathews, has toured the jail and delighted in the delicious fresh produce on display. He believes that Arpaoio’s methods — which he makes clear is all about saving money and not about inmate health — are going to make Maricopa County’s jail better for everyone.
Others think differently:
During a 2013 visit of the food factory after the meals switched over to an all-vegetarian diet, a Fox News affiliate reporter commented that the carrots in the stew were brown and that the soy looked like “wood chips.” Arpaio responded, “Oh, that’s probably just dirt. Don’t worry about that.” Inmates previously called the meals that they were served “slop.” According to a 2013 Time article, inmates have to pay for their own meals. And inmates are served two meals per day, rather than three.
“Oh, that’s probably just dirt!” Nothing to see here, folks! Move along! Dirt is high in both protein and fiber. Tastes good coming down (lots of minerals, you know?) and feels even better coming back out. Along with those brown carrots and whatever else is being put into the meals it should be a healthy and plentiful meal for the inmates. But wait...there’s more.
Think Progress reports that even though the vegetarian meals may be considered helpful, they won’t do much to combat Arpaio’s other methods of punishment, like “Tent City” an outdoor encampment from a dystopian future, where inmates roast underneath hot weather that hits 136 degrees.
Arpaio’s “ Tent City,” an outdoor jail with electric fencing can hold more than two thousand immigrant detainees. Because the heat can rise to 137 degrees during the summer months, the tent structure serves primarily as brutal physical punishment. Arpaio said that he reserves punishment for those who have been convicted, yet the population consists of mostly pre-trial inmates, some of whom have low-level offenses like driving without a license. As he said in the past, Arpaio is an “equal opportunity guy, I lock up everybody.”
Excellent! I am all for the healing power of plant-based cuisine — full self-disclosure: I’m a vegetarian — but even I can see that there’s no vegetarian meal on earth that can temper the torture of having to roast outside for failing to drive without a license. Sure, the tofu may be lowering your risk of heart disease, but the chance of getting heat stroke cancels those health benefits right out.
PETA’s love affair with Arpaio is very contradictory to their desire to make the world a better place for everyone. Even Pamela Anderson’s statement on the jail, which was all about compassion, seemed completely out of place in the deluge of information about how unkind Arpaio’s ways are.
“I believe people can be rehabilitated from the inside out,” Anderson said in the press release. “Jails are full of people wanting to change, to make amends, to learn healthier habits and understand compassion and empathy.”
Yes! True! But Arpaio’s jail is also not at all compassionate to humans. How do you expect people to learn compassion for animals when they aren’t shown any themselves?
Oh, and one more fun fact. TP reports that all the money Arpaio claims to be saving tax payers with this whole vegetarian meal thing? That tax money is still being collected; it’s just being funneled into a $21.9 million to fulfill court-ordered obligations regarding the racial profiling of latinos.
Those changes include improving training and technology equipment, to show that the sheriff’s office will no longer systemically single out Latinos during traffic and immigration stops.
Pam Anderson will be visiting the jail today.
Image via Getty
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.