Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has always been regarded as an unmissable American tradition. It is anticipated that this year’s parade, which will take place on Nov. 28, will be watched by over 3 million people on the streets of New York, while an additional 50 million people will be watching it on TV across the country.

However, the event has already been marred by controversy. We recently reported on the anger that has been provoked by SeaWorld’s new 27-foot float, “A Sea of Surprises.” The Oceanic Preservation Society in Boulder, Colo., has expressed its outrage over this float, urging its supporters to voice their concerns online and by flooding Macy’s Cincinnati headquarters with phone calls.

Now, the singer and guitarist Joan Jett has been controversially removed from Macy’s South Dakota float because of her animal rights advocacy work with PETA. South Dakotan cattle ranchers have protested that as a long-term vegetarian and critic of their trade, Jett was an unsuitable candidate to represent their state.

Jodie Anderson of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association told CNN, “We were heavily concerned about her representing South Dakota and a state that is so heavily reliant on agriculture and livestock production to drive our economy.” Cory Eich, president of the association, added, “To me, it seems like a huge blunder. I guess I couldn’t disapprove more. I don’t understand what they were thinking.”

Dan Mathews, senior vice president of PETA, said in a statement, “Thanks to South Dakota’s reactionary ranchers, people across the country have learned why Joan Jett supports PETA. The meat trade can’t stand any scrutiny of its cruelty.”

Jett herself has been non-incendiary in her response, saying, “I’ve decided to switch from South Dakota to another float because people’s political agendas were getting in the way of what should be a purely entertainment driven event. I will remain focused on entertaining the millions of people watching, who will be celebrating a great American tradition.” Her spokeswoman Kristen Foster pointed out that Jett has held concerts in South Dakota on numerous occasions and is a great fan of the state.

She has not been removed from the parade altogether. Macy’s has confirmed that she will be moved to a different float, though it has not been confirmed which float.

When an organization that promotes keeping sea creatures in captivity is advertised by Macy’s as a “unique entertainment” experience, but a legendary rock star is removed because of her animal rights activism, what does that show us about how animals are viewed by human society? Let’s hope the day will soon come when the meat industry no longer wields so much power and influence over what should be a fun family event.

Image Source: David Shankbone / Flickr