Vegetarian poster - 'It's an absurd and offensive campaign'

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SHOCK tactics are a tried and tested method when it comes to advertising and getting a particular message across.

But if the animal rights group PETA thinks their latest campaign will win them any favours then they are as mistaken in this as they are in so many other things they do.

A Food Standards Agency survey in 2007 suggested just one in a hundred Scots is vegetarian, with three times as many describing themselves as "partly vegetarian", whatever that means.

So when PETA tells parents that if they feed their kids meat they are guilty of child abuse, are they really suggesting 96 per cent of them are guilty of that crime?

Or is the advert which has appeared in Cameron Toll just there to make the four per cent who have decided not to give their children meat feel better about themselves?

Either way, it is an absurd and offensive campaign which should not have been approved by the advertising authorities - if indeed it was.

Sure, selective research suggests veggie kids are healthier, but, then again, some experts tell us children don't do as well if they spend time in child care. Imagine the furore if a billboard went up that said: "Mums going out to work is child abuse."

Message to PETA: forget the hackneyed shock tactics and stick to reasoned arguments instead. Otherwise no-one will take you seriously, let alone listen to what you have to say.

Deadly statistics

it IS impossible to ignore the dramatic rise in the number of murders carried out in the Lothians over the last year.

Only time will tell for sure whether or not these 17 killings are part of a wider social trend, perhaps linked to our destructive drinking habits.

In the meantime, it is important to keep a sense of perspective.

Statisticians would tell you that, based on last year, living in Lothian is more dangerous than in Rome, London or Berlin, where the murder rates are lower - although still not as dangerous as Glasgow.

But common sense paints a different picture of somewhere that is by and large safe to live. Don't forget that charges have been laid against suspects in all but one case.

Indeed, we report today the first of those 17 deaths was dealt with yesterday when two men were found guilty of the killing of Dennis Parker in Musselburgh a year ago.

A drug deal was at the centre of that murder, and the brutal truth is that most killings do happen on the fringes of society. And instances of law-abiding people being killed by strangers remain extremely rare, here and elsewhere.