Hate talk is just inhuman
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.