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article imageOp-Ed: Canadian threat from PETA could link WWE champion to extremism

By Sullivan Rhodes     Feb 16, 2012 in Sports
Daniel Bryan is the World Heavyweight Champion of WWE. To some, he is an underdog fighting for recognition and fan approval. But in Canada, a new definition of terrorism might play havoc with his title reign.
This Sunday marks the latest major battle in professional wrestling for Bryan. He'll step in the ring to take on five intimidating opponents in the Elimination Chamber - an annual WWE event that sees competitors set foot inside a massive ring superstructure built of huge amounts of chain and steel.
But outside the ring, Bryan may be facing a storm of controversy for his endorsement of PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - a group that has come under fire this week by security services in Canada for connections to eco-terrorism.
According to an article in The Globe and Mail, "In a series of documents from 2005 to 2009, the RCMP and CSIS assess “threats from terrorism and extremism” and report growing concerns about environmental and animal-rights groups..."
"...Public Safety Minister Vic Toews announced last week a new anti-terrorism strategy that identifies as threats eco-extremists, animal-rights radicals and anti-capitalists, as well as white supremacists and foreign terror groups."
What this means is that a vocal activist like Bryan, through his endorsement of PETA, might now be thrown into the same category as neo-Nazi groups or those seeking to use any-means-necessary to disrupt oil pipeline projects.
For those of you unfamiliar with the vernacular of sports entertainment, Bryan is a 'heel' or 'bad guy'.
In his new 'heel' persona, Bryan has adopted a vociferous stance against those who consume meat, often proclaiming to the millions reading about him in interviews or watching him on television that he is a vegan, and in fact healthier than those fans enraged by his in-ring shenanigans.
Behind the scenes, Bryan has appeared in PETA press releases and on their website including a video testimonial called "Go Vegetarian" proclaiming the benefits of becoming a vegetarian.
"In an exclusive interview with peta2, Daniel Bryan reveals how his love for animals, concern for the environment, and desire to be as healthy as possible led him to a vegan diet. Animals on factory farms are kept in cramped, filthy conditions and denied everything that is natural and important to them before having their throats cut at the slaughterhouse. More than 55 million animals are killed for human consumption every day in the U.S., resulting in devastating environmental effects. Factory farming is one of the leading causes of climate change, and more than 70 percent of the wheat grown and the water used in the U.S. goes to animals on factory farms. Aside from easing your conscience and shrinking your carbon footprint, a vegan diet has also been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes, cancer, and diabetes."
In 2012, news that PETA has become classified as possibly an extremist or terrorist organization in Canada may be negative publicity that WWE is not ready to accept as part of the 'kayfabe' storyline involving Bryan. The company has been keen on promoting his stance with PETA on vegetarianism but at the same time WWE has regularly toured The Middle East as part of "Tribute To The Troops" initiatives.
WWE has staged professional wrestling events from U.S. Armed Forces bases at home and abroad.
Whether or not Bryan keeps his World Heavyweight Championship this Sunday may depend on whether the executive leadership of World Wrestling Entertainment decides that any negative publicity stemming from this news is a detriment to the company.
In other words, Chief Executive Officer Vince McMahon and Executive Vice-President Paul Levesque may decide that keeping the strap on Bryan is not worth the 'heat' that the decision could cause backstage.
It's happened before.
In 2005, WWE released Muhammad Hassan (aka Mark Copani) from their roster because of backlash that character received for anti-American sentiment.
With WrestleMania 28 scheduled for Sun Life Stadium in Miami on April 1, the patriotic McMahon family is not likely to approve of one of their champions connected in the media to a possible terrorist organization.
For Bryan, his days as champ may be numbered.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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