Hate talk is just in­hu­man

Herald Sun - - OPINION - SUSIE O’BRIEN SUSIE O’BRIEN IS A HER­ALD SUN COLUM­NIST su­[email protected] @susieob

DEAR hu­man car­ers, we are writ­ing to you on be­half of those for­merly known as pets. From now on, we would like to be known as “com­pan­ion an­i­mals”. Please do not call us pets be­cause it ac­ti­vates the men­tal con­struct that an­i­mals are owned and re­garded as noth­ing but prop­erty. You may feed us and walk us, but you will never own our souls.

We would also like to ad­vise you that wildlife want to be re­ferred to as “free-liv­ing an­i­mals” and ver­min as “dif­fer­en­ti­ated en­ti­ties”.

We have been in­spired to write to you af­ter hear­ing of the work of Dr Sha­reena Hamzah, of Swansea Uni­ver­sity, who ar­gued this week that the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of ve­g­an­ism could lead to a cull of meat and dairy say­ings.

Dr Hamzah help­fully sug­gests that “the im­age of ‘killing two birds with one stone’ is, if any­thing, made more pow­er­ful by the an­i­mal-friendly al­ter­na­tive of ‘feed­ing two birds with one scone’”.

On be­half of pigs, we also would like to urge you to wipe the fol­low­ing phrases from your vo­cab­u­lary: “Bring home the ba­con” and “carry on like a pork chop”.

We re­spect­fully sug­gest “bring home the bagel” and “carry on like a malt hop”.

Other phrases such as “take the bull by the horns” and “flog a dead horse” should also be re­moved from the hu­man carer lex­i­con. May I fol­low Dr Hamzah and sug­gest “take the flower by the thorns?” and “feed a fed horse” in­stead?

It’s also time to re­con­sider phrases such as “put­ting all your eggs in one bas­ket”. Ask your­self: why would you take our eggs in the first place?

Lest you think Dr Hamzah may be hav­ing a gen­tle joke at your ex­pense, let me as­sure you, she’s draw­ing on the work of that mighty an­i­mal rights group, PETA.

PETA ar­gues that “just as it be­came un­ac­cept­able to use racist, ho­mo­pho­bic, or ableist lan­guage, phrases that triv­i­alise cru­elty to an­i­mals will van­ish as more peo­ple be­gin to ap­pre­ci­ate an­i­mals for who they are and start ‘bring­ing home the bagels’ in­stead of the ba­con”.

Hum­ble homo sapi­ens, PETA says, you have been guilty of speciesism, which is de­fined as show­ing a prej­u­di­cial bias to­wards mem­bers of your own species.

Yes, a new “ism” to be mind­ful of. Great news, isn’t it? This is a recog­ni­tion that hu­man an­i­mals do not have any greater rights than us non-hu­mans.

But let’s not stop at say­ings. Let’s purge the English lan­guage of all an­i­mal ref­er­ences that have a pe­jo­ra­tive con­no­ta­tion. No longer will a “sheep” be con­sid­ered con­form­ist, a “chicken” be some­one who is timid and a “toad” some­one nasty. No longer will se­cond-hand car sales­men be called “sharks” and love cheats be called “rats”.

Now, some peo­ple have ob­jected to this over­due pu­rifi­ca­tion of the English lan­guage, ar­gu­ing that it’s po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness gone mad and a sign that grass-eat­ing do-good­ers are tak­ing over.

But I think we should go fur­ther: why stop at meaty metaphors?

We, your furry friends, also ob­ject to an­i­mal-based sport­ing team mas­cots which serve to ob­jec­tify and de­mean us, par­tic­u­larly when our team is los­ing. From now on, we would like fans of Gee­long to be known as the Kicks rather than the Cats, Hawthorn to be known as the Squawks not the Hawks and the Ade­laide Crows can be the Joes.

We would also like place names such as Eggs and Ba­con Bay in Tas­ma­nia to be re­named in or­der to re­spect the hu­man rights of chick­ens and pigs. PETA ar­gues that “con­sid­er­ing the high lev­els of choles­terol and sat­u­rated fat in both eggs and ba­con, the area may as well be called ‘Heart At­tack Bay’”. How help­ful of them to in­volve them­selves so in­ti­mately in the pri­vate and per­sonal di­etary needs of the com­mu­nity!

PETA sug­gests it should be re­named Ap­ple and Berry Bay (as long as those ag­i­tat­ing to pro­tect the rights of fruit don’t ob­ject). The same goes for Sausage Gully, which is near Won­garra on the Great Ocean Road. Surely it should be re­named SoyLatte Gully in or­der to get the point across? Sim­i­larly, Pig Gully, Dead Cat Gully, Hen and Chicken Reef, Lamb Flat and Sheep Creek should be re­named im­me­di­ately.

You may be think­ing this is all go­ing too far, and will strip the English lan­guage of its rich­ness and di­ver­sity. You are wrong. You might say there’s “more than one way to skin a cat”. I’d sug­gest there’s “only one way to peel a potato”.

Love, the non-hu­man an­i­mals.

Re­mem­ber, from now on, I’m not a cane toad, I’m a dif­fer­en­ti­ated en­tity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.