School Flying McDonald's Flag Accused of Sellout

The Salt Lake Tribune
18 December 1998


One of three flags flying over Eisenhower Junior High School in Taylorsville have raised the hackles of a national animal rights group. It's not the Stars and Stripes or the blue-and-beehive motif of the Utah state flag that has them mad, it is the golden arches of McDonald's. "I challenge that principal to find one thing on a McDonald's menu that makes good dietary sense," said Bruce Friedrich, Vegetarian Campaign Coordinator at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). "It's a pitiful comment."

Principal Lori Gardner said Thursday flying the flag is an honor because McDonald's is the school's best corporate sponsor. "Out of all the business partners, and we've got some great ones, McDonald's has made a point of really being part of the school," Gardner said. Besides sending a corp of volunteers to the school for the past six years, a regional manager for McDonald's at 4217 S. Redwood Road has personally helped students whose families have fallen on hard times, Gardner said. Manager Scott Pugh has helped them find housing and even paid for the funeral of a young boy who died in a car fire, she said. "It's out of respect for the work they do and Scott Pugh who has made this possible. That's why we fly the flag," Gardner said. Pugh did not answer telephone calls seeking comment. No McDonald's products are sold at the school.

PETA officials of the Virginia-based animal rights organization say the involvement is nothing more than a corporate giant trying to influence children. "I actually spoke with the principal, whose response I found morally reprehensible and quite remarkable," PETA's Friedrich said. "Basically she said McDonald's gives us money and we take no position on their products."

The school's other business partners, VoiceStream Wireless, Abbott Critical Care Systems, Little Caesars and Fred Meyer, have banners displayed. Only McDonald's asked that a flag be flown, she said. "Would it be a great honor if Smirnoff Vodka gave them a lot of money?" said Friedrich. "Eating meat is just as bad for our health and is catastrophic for the environment. Eating meat is inherently cruel to animals."

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