Using anti-animal language is like using racial slurs, PETA says

Dec 6, 2018, 2:06 PM | Updated: Dec 7, 2018, 9:09 am
PETA Anti-Animal Language Guide...
A portion of PETA's guide on how to stop using anti-animal language. (PETA/Twitter)

Would the world be a pleasanter place if, instead of “beating a dead horse,” people said they were “feeding a fed horse?”

Or if, instead of killing two birds with one stone, we fed two birds with one scone?

PETA certainly believes so. They want to erase the anti-animal language in some of English’s best-known idioms. They say it’s a matter of animal rights, no different from cutting out racial slurs.

PETA has released a list of acceptable, animal-friendly phrases they want the world to use to eliminate what they call “speciesism” from our language. They’ve launched a whole campaign, complete with a new Twitter handle and even easy-to-print handouts school teachers can use in class.

The campaign has sparked a firestorm online, with users online nearly universally mocking and criticizing the idea with so much ferocity that it’s become the web’s latest meme.

PETA’s guide to anti-animal language

Part of PETA’s classroom print-out for lessons on anti-animal language, (PETA)

PETA’s guide asks the world to stop using anti-animal language, likening it to racism and homophobia.

In a tweet, they explained: “Just as it became unacceptable to use racist, homophobic, or ableist language, phrases that trivialize 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.”

Anti-animal language, they argue, isn’t as trivial as it might seem. They say: “While these phrases may seem harmless, they carry meaning and can send mixed signals to students about the relationship between humans and animals and can normalize abuse.”

The internet doesn’t seem convinced. The campaign has provoked intense reactions, almost all of which have been overwhelmingly negative.

Some have jumped on the chance to make parodies:

Anti-animal language parody tweet

A parody of the PETA post, tweeted by Sebastian Soegaard. This image has been cropped to remove vulgarity. (Sebastian Soegaard/Twitter)

Others have jumped on the campaign as an opportunity to criticize PETA for past controversies:

And still more have asked if PETA doesn’t have bigger problems to worry about:

No amount of jokes or jabs, however, have been enough to convince PETA to shy away from the campaign. They’ve embraced it fully, changing their Twitter handle to include the boast that they’ve been “bringing home the bagels since 1980” and asking:

“To the haters: with so much negativity in the world, why not lighten up and use language in a way that encourages being kind to animals?”

Feeding Two Birds With One Scone

PETA Salt Lake City protest

A PETA protest outside of a Salt Lake City McDonald’s on Aug 24th, 2009. (KSL TV)

But all that controversy might be exactly what PETA wants.

The new campaign is just one in a long string of headline-grabbing stunts by PETA. It comes just days after the organization went viral for another controversy when they released an article asking: “Can we really call ourselves ‘feminists’ if we eat eggs?”

PETA has never shied away from the provoking a reaction. In fact, they’ve openly acknowledge that they use controversy as a strategy, explaining that they “rely largely on free ‘advertising’ through media coverage” to spread their message. On their website, the organization acknowledges:

“We try to make our actions colorful and controversial, thereby grabbing headlines around the world and spreading the message of kindness to animals to thousands—sometimes millions—of people. …

“We will do extraordinary things to get the word out about animal cruelty because we have learned from experience that the media, sadly, do not consider the terrible facts about animal suffering alone interesting enough to cover.”

PETA is more than happy with the reaction they’ve received for this campaign. Speaking to the Washington Post, PETA spokeswoman Ashley Byrne has said:

“If having this conversation makes people start to think about why PETA might not love a phrase like ‘bring home the bacon’ — and that would be because the pigs are leading miserable lives before they become bacon — then great.”

More to the story

The Nightside Project‘s Ethan Millard and Alex Kirry filled in for Dave & Dujanovic to talk about this story today on KSL Newsradio, which they said was just “too much fun” to pass up.

If you missed the show live, you can still hear what they had to say on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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Using anti-animal language is like using racial slurs, PETA says