The Roanoke Times has discovered that opening Virginia's highway rest stops to sponsors might not mean just more advertising for fast food. It could lead to requests from opponents of the mainstream ideas of food and leisure activities:
Gov. Bob McDonnell announced an initiative last week that would allow for sponsorships at Virginia's highway rest areas to help offset the cost of operating the facilities.
And now the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants in on the action. PETA has sent a letter to the Virginia Department of Transportation expressing its interest in sponsoring the Interstate 81 rest stop at mile marker 158 near Troutville and renaming it the "Fishing Hurts" rest area. It also would like to get a reduced sponsorship rate as a nonprofit.
PETA's letter to VDOT included these lines:
Once upon a time, no one thought twice about fishing, but nowadays, given the research into fish sentience and their ability to feel pain, fishing can only be considered a blood sport that causes significant physical and psychological suffering....
PETA’s “Fishing Hurts” Rest Area in Troutville would feature displays about fish intelligence, the pain caused by fishing, and the harm done to water birds and other aquatic life who become entangled in fishing line and ingest lost and discarded bobs and hooks. Our vending machines would dispense plush Sammy the Sea Kitten toys, which would teach children to have empathy for fish by comparing them to the kittens whom many of us are more familiar with.
We would also consider stocking the vending machines with delicious vegan faux-fish sticks (made of healthy plant protein and spices) and other healthy fish-free snacks.
Allowing us to rename the Troutville facility the “Fishing Hurts” Rest Area would send a clear message that all violence is unacceptable, even when it is directed at those who are different from us.
I'm sure that VDOT's plan would not mean that sponsoring a rest area would be an opportunity for "vegan faux-fish stick" vending and other surprises that drivers don't expect when they pull off the road.