Turns out Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson have something in common besides a fondness for Barb Wire, pink underpants, and relentless attention-seeking: They both think a vegetarian diet is just peachy, especially if you can impose it on people who have absolutely no say in the matter, i.e., prisoners at the Maricopa County Jail.
And that’s why Joe Freaking Arpaio joined Anderson and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for a big press conference Wednesday, touting the wholesomeness and general goodness of the jail’s meat-free meals. We actually don’t have a problem with the vegetarianism part of it, really. But you’d think maybe someone at PETA would have given just a little bit of thought before partnering with a guy whose incarceration philosophy is built on treating prisoners as inhumanly as possible within the bounds of the Eighth Amendment — and frequently beyond them. Not that there’s necessarily a conflict of values; PETA is only concerned with caged animals that aren’t human.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is certainly proud of its achievements in cutting out meat from prisoner meals — and considering that Arpaio used to brag about serving prisoners greenish bologna, maybe this is a step up. Supposedly, the meatless meals save taxpayers some $200,000 a year, according to a MCSO press release. Also, too, there are a whole bunch of other benefits: “reduced electricity costs, not having to tailor a variety of meals to suit different religious convictions and other special requests, and providing healthier meals that don’t spoil as quickly as animal products.”
Oh, and to save money and improve inmate health, Dear Sheriff Joe also eliminated coffee and condiments. Guy’s a freakin’ saint, isn’t he? Good thing he’s saving a few bucks on food, since Maricopa County taxpayers are still on the hook for some $21 million in costs needed to comply with a court order requiring MCSO to change policies and procedures that constituted racial profiling, plus a $3.75 million settlement for Arpaio’s revenge arrests of a couple of journalists he didn’t like. Still, big savings on food!
PETA Senior Vice President Dan “My Last Name Isn’t A Typo” Mathews is over the moon at the opportunity to partner with the punishment-happy sadist, too! He told Think Progress that the prospect of “8,300 people a day not eating meat” was “a wonderful example for other jails around the country that could have health impacts on the inmates as well as saving taxes” — although Matthews didn’t have any opinion of Arpaio’s fondness for keeping prisoners in tents where summer temperatures regularly top 110 degrees. Look, it’s not like Arpaio is making dogs or cats endure those conditions, so who cares? Besides, just think of all the great opportunities for moral reform! Matthews simply oozed enthusiasm, praising Arpaio for devising “an efficient wonderful program” because and that “prisoners are the ideal crowds to learn about a less violent diet and a more healthful diet.”
And if they don’t treat the American Flag with respect, they’ll get bread and water, too! Talk about healthy and cruelty-free — for animals, at least.
Mathews was even thrilled by the state of the fresh produce he saw on a visit to the jail: “They have food that’s unpeeled so if you don’t want to eat it now, you can eat it later.” We bet he’s even excited by the extra mineral content provided by not washing the vegetables, either:
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.”
And those lucky duckies at the jail even get to learn important lessons about responsibility — the county bills them for their meals — and about living simply: they only get two meals a day. Which inmates describe as “slop.”
For her part, Anderson focused on the spiritual nourishment of Joe Arpaio’s approach to sadism as moral reform:
I believe people can be rehabilitated from the inside out. Jails are full of people wanting to change, to make amends, to learn healthier habits and understand compassion and empathy.
You know, like how Joe Arpaio was found in a 2008 court ruling to have compassionately and empathetically been indifferent to whether prisoners received prescription medications, leading to at least one death. But it was only a diabetic who died from not getting insulin, and isn’t that derived from animal cruelty anyway? Or maybe she meant the compassionate and empathetic overcrowding; at one jail, “as many as 35 inmates can be crammed into one cell — without beds — for as long as 72 hours.”
So maybe Arpaio doesn’t take good care of prisoners. But who cares? They’re merely humans, and that’s the one creature PETA doesn’t give a single organic free range shit about.