PETA, keep your bloody hands off my meat rack!

Today is one of those days when I just don't feel like writing about anything, and when that happens, ordinary news and opinions fail to trigger my urge to blog. And even though I am always on the lookout for annoyances,they have to be especially annoying and touch on a pet peeve to interest me.

Fortunately, today I found something that is not only annoying, but touches on one of my pet peeves -- the peeve being the activist penchant for renaming places or streets that do not need to be renamed.

Via Eugene Volokh, (who is skeptical over whether the campaign is serious), I just learned about a classic.

PETA has asked the City of San Francsico to rename the Tenderloin.

San Francisco - The city of San Francisco hopes to revitalize the ailing Tenderloin district by enticing Twitter and other businesses to set up shop--but PETA has another suggestion: Do away with the old slaughterhouse-evoking moniker and rename the neighborhood the "Tempeh District." In a letter sent to Mayor Edwin M. Lee this morning, PETA points out that the name change would attract progressive companies and prospective residents by showing them that the neighborhood is ready for a fresh start and a new image.

"The 'Tenderloin' is an outdated name that echoes the violence and cruelty of the meat industry," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "San Francisco is home to some of the best vegan cuisine in the world, and its neighborhoods should reflect the city's commitment to compassion and progress."

Wrong. The humorless meatheads at PETA are so caught up in their self-absorbed activism that they have totally missed the delicious (if slightly filthy) flavor behind the name. 

"Tenderloin" does not mean meat in the ordinary sense. As any knowledgeable San Franciscan knows, it has long been considered an expression for "loin" of another sort. I'd say "double entendre" except no one I ever knew meant the name to refer to the kind of meat you'd buy in the butcher shop. When I lived in the Bay Area I used to have fun hanging out in the Tenderloin and I always loved the name.

I think it would be a crime against sexual freedom to allow it to be renamed by tasteless vegan language butchers.  

The term's colorful history is reflected in the Tenderloin's Wiki entry (which I am confident someone in PETA must have been capable of checking before launching this half-cocked exercise in meatlessness mind control):

There are a number of stories about how the Tenderloin got its name. One says it is a reference to an older neighborhood in New York with the same name and similar characteristics. Another is a reference to the neighborhood as the "soft underbelly" (analogous to the cut of meat) of the city, with allusions to vice and corruption, especially graft. There are also some legends about the name, probably folklore, including that the neighborhood earned its name from the words of a New York City police captain, Alexander S. Williams, who was overheard saying that when he was assigned to another part of the city, he could only afford to eat chuck steak on the salary he was earning, but after he was transferred to this neighborhood he was making so much money on the side soliciting bribes that now he could eat tenderloin instead.[2][3] Another version of that story says that the officers who worked in the Tenderloin received a "hazard pay" bonus for working in such a violent area, and thus were able to afford the good cut of meat. Yet another story, also likely apocryphal, is that the name is a reference to the sexual parts of prostitutes (i.e., "loins").

It has nothing to do with the meat industry. Similarly, the heavily-gay Polk Street area was known as "the Meat Rack" in its heyday. This dirtier link shows the customary usage of the term, and it has nothing to do with meat-eating (at least in the carnivorous sense). 

This isn't the first instance of PETA's Puritanism. A couple of years ago they attacked Jessica Simpson for wearing a "REAL GIRLS EAT MEAT" t-shirt. PETA said she "doesn't have a right to eat what she wants." And while PETA is against other people killing animals, they think it's fine if they do it. Especially if the victims are pit bulls. 

Bloody hypocrites. Leave the Tenderloin alone!

MORE: From my stodgy old Webster's New International Dictionary (Second Edition, 1957), here is the relevant secondary definition of "tenderloin." The historic word originated with a police captain who lived high on the hog, and in the generic sense it denotes a nightlife district, with opportunities for official corruption.


Hardly a "slaughterhouse-evoking moniker."

MORE: Speaking of taboo subjects, check out M. Simon's post about Omaha Steaks! Yes, they sell real tenderloin.

posted by Eric on 04.19.11 at 01:41 PM


Ahhh but if you read their press release carefully they don't actually claim the district was a meat processing area:

slaughterhouse-evoking moniker
an outdated name that echoes the violence

No actual claim there was a slaughter house or animal violence perpetrated there.

I am sure they do not care what the true and rich history of the area is, just so long as they get to score political points. "Who controls the present", and all that, is more their real aim I suspect.

DocD   ·  April 19, 2011 4:40 PM

Seen that way, any reference to meat is a reference to violence.

Yet there is nothing violent or cruel about meat.

The word applies to people:


Violence is the expression of physical force against one or more people, compelling action against one's will on pain of being hurt.


OTOH, if killing animals is violence, then PETA is as violent as the typical slaughterhouse. The difference is that PETA doesn't process its slaughtered animals as food; they are simply thrown into dumpsters.

Eric Scheie   ·  April 19, 2011 5:13 PM

Thanks for the mention!

What we need is PETA Pet Cemeteries. Row upon row of unmarked graves. "11 April 2015 - Here lie the remains of 231 dogs and cats and a few canaries we couldn't sell. Pay up suckers or we will kill again."

M. Simon   ·  April 19, 2011 8:25 PM

Tenderloin comes from the top of the animal, exactly on the opposite side of the 'soft underbelly', more commonly known as 'bacon'.

John Burgess   ·  April 21, 2011 10:07 PM

Post a comment

April 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30


Search the Site


Classics To Go

Classical Values PDA Link


Recent Entries


Site Credits