A New York City animal-rights organization wants Christine Quinn to make like a tree and get outta here.
NYCLASS, a group lobbying to do away with carriage horses in Central Park and elsewhere in the city, is using fictional bullies such as Biff Tannen of “Back to the Future” and Darth Vader of “Star Wars” to draw attention to what it says is Quinn’s abysmal record on animal protection.
Capitalizing on a widely circulated New York Times profile -- which characterized the City Council speaker as a temperamental, vengeful loose cannon -- the group launched “Bullies for Christine Quinn,” a meme-fueled Tumblr blog that features famous bullies proudly wielding Christine Quinn for Mayor signs. Lucy van Pelt, Gordon Gekko, Nelson Muntz and Godzilla are a few of the other bullies throwing their satirical support behind the mayoral frontrunner.
Quinn officially threw her hat into the race earlier this month and is so far considered the most likely candidate to take the reins from outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg in November.
The Times profile in question was published on Tuesday, and recounted Quinn’s alleged “hair-trigger eruptions” and “angry tirades” as told by officials who had worked with the speaker. Allie Feldman, lead organizer for NYCLASS, said the article serves as further proof that Quinn is unfit to lead the city and will not advance the cause of animal rights.
“We can’t have a mayor who is a bully like that,” she said in a phone interview. “If she talks like that to humans, imagine how she would treat non-human residents, who literally have no voice.”
Quinn’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
As speaker of the City Council, Quinn has had a contentious relationship with animal-rights groups including NYCLASS and PETA, both of which support phasing out horse-drawn carriages and replacing them with electric-powered replicas of early-20th-century automobiles. According to Feldman, Quinn prefers the status quo and has not supported legislation that would facilitate the transition.
In 2010, with Quinn’s support, the City Council passed a bill to increase the fare for horse-drawn carriage rides and provide more vacation time for horses. As the New York Times reported then, Quinn called the bill a “huge step forward,” but opponents of the horse-drawn carriage industry disagreed. The carriage rides routinely draw criticism and protest demonstrations from activists who say the horses are overworked, kept in cramped stalls and ill-adapted for a modern-day urban environment. Major cities such as Paris, London, Toronto and Beijing have already banned carriage horses, animal-rights groups say.
Feldman said other mayoral candidates more closely align with NYCLASS’ objectives, but she declined to say whom the group will endorse in November.
The Times profile of Quinn has sparked accusations of sexism among Twitter users and others who said that tales of tantrums and aggressive behavior would not be an issue if Quinn were a male candidate. (Storify user Jacob Kornbluh curated some of those complaints here.) But Feldman said New Yorkers should be concerned about the article’s characterizations of vindictive behavior. The story recounts a highly publicized incident in which Quinn allegedly cut the budget of City Councilwoman Liz Crowley in retaliation for Crowley’s office having sent out a premature press release.
Feldman said the inspiration behind “Bullies for Quinn” blog was not just to draw attention to an important issue, but to do so using the universal language of satire. In that vein, she said supporters are welcome to visit the NYCLASS Facebook page and suggest bully memes or submit their own.
“We’re not your typical animal-rights organization,” Feldman said. “We’re new, we’re young. And we’re also very political.”
For what it’s worth: As of Friday afternoon, the blonde-headed guy from “The Karate Kid” still hadn’t made the cut.