(Photograph courtesy of “Canceled Flight: 101 Tried and True Pigeon Killin’ Methods”)
Pigeons are certainly a nuisance, but do they really deserve to die—even facetiously? Joel Barnard, a 34-year-old advertising copywriter, seems to think so. In fact, he decided to publish a book about how best to kill them, called Canceled Flight.
The result: a collection of illustrations, paintings, and photographs that depict 101 ways to kill pigeons, along with recipes for doing so (like “The Aboriginal Assassination: 20–30 blowgun darts, 1 blowgun, some poison”).
Although Barnard recruited various artists and designers to contribute to it, including Dalek and Ryan McGinness, it was, he says, actually edited by one A. V. Jones, whom he describes as president of People for the Unethical Treatment of Pigeons—but who probably doesn’t exist.
Bird lovers are not amused. Zelda Penzel, president of People for Ending Animal Cruelty and Exploitation (PEACE), says she’s exchanged e-mails with the book’s distributor, powerHouse, and Barnes & Noble executives, noting that such joke books “only serve to reinforce disrespect and ultimately ‘justifiable’ violence towards the hated object.”
But she doesn’t care to give Barnard the satisfaction of a fight. In fact, after powerHouse asked if it could quote her in a press release, Penzel decided she didn’t want to talk about the book anymore at all. “This pigeon is dead in the water,” she says. “Activists have better things to do with their time.”