Sunday, May 1, 2011

David'Z RantZ ~~ Oh, Puh-LEEZE! (STILL Not the One You've Been Waiting For!)

Here I was, blissfully thinking that Donald Trump was the number one candidate -- please pardon the expression -- for the title of "Idiot of the Week" -- month? millennium? -- but someone had to prove me wrong!

In case you haven't read this (yet) elsewhere... According to the new Journal of Animal Ethics, which is the result of a US/UK "academic partnership," terms like -- and take a deep breath, here -- "pet," "critter," "beast," "wildlife," "pests," "vermin," and "owner" (the latter referring to us humans, of course) should be discarded, because they're insulting, demeaning, insensitive, derogatory, etc. (Here is only one brief article elaborating on this editorial, and here's a press release.)

Some quotes (in italics) or points from the editorial:

Our existing language about animals is the language of past thought – and the crucial point is that the past is littered with derogatory terminology: “brutes”, “beasts”, “bestial”, “critters”, “sub-humans”, and the like.

We shall not be able to think clearly unless we discipline ourselves to use less than partial adjectives in our exploration of animals and our moral relations with them.

They suggest that what we now call "pets" should hereafter be referred to as “companion animals.” "Owners" should be called “human carers” instead.

Despite its prevalence, “pets” is surely a derogatory term both of the animals concerned and their human carers. Again the word “owners”, whilst technically correct in law, harks back to a previous age when animals were regarded as just that: property, machines or things to use without moral constraint.

In addition, we invite authors to use the words “free-living”, “free-ranging” or “free-roaming” rather than “wild animals”… For most, “wildness” is synonymous with uncivilized, unrestrained, barbarous existence. There is an obvious prejudgment here that should be avoided.

They also suggest retiring phrases like “sly as a fox, “eat like a pig,” and “drunk as a skunk.” These are all "unfair" to animals!

*sigh* Where, oh where, do I begin...?

Frankly, my first reaction to reading about this editorial was that it was a load of bullsh--

(Oh, wait, I should probably re-phrase that thought, so as not to offend any that are of the... errr... Bovine-American persuasion!)

My first reaction to reading about this editorial was that it was a load of ca-ca... regardless of the species from which said "ca-ca" originated, of course.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love animals. Generally, I like 'em better than people... not that I'm a big fan of humans anyway, as you regular readers may have surmised. Having said that...

Come on.

So, we can't call 'em "pets" any more? Damn. I suppose this means that the Petco chain will soon be going the route of the Sambo's restaurant franchise...

As far as the "ownership" thing, the whole concept of property is admittedly vague, as it concerns a living thing. My cat, Orson, is... well... my cat. I do own him. (Well, as much as anyone can own a cat. They kinda own us, wouldn't you agree?) But referring to a desk, a parakeet, or even a spouse as "yours" doesn't automatically place that thing or person in an inferior position to yourself, does it? (Then again, I don't know your spouse... But I digress.)

And "wild" is a bad word, they claim, because it implies that our friends in the animal kingdom are -- horrors! -- uncivilized? Can't have that. On the other hand, how civilized would you think I was if I were to urinate on a tree and/or crap on your lawn, then stand outside your door screaming gibberish until you let me in, and then ran in (naked, of course), demanding to be fed from my own dish as well as anyone else's whose food I could steal, then slept on your clean laundry, or kitchen counter-top, or anywhere else I could get away with sleeping, and then...

Oh, you get the point? Good. Just be glad I didn't mention licking myself, nuzzling your crotch (or a guest's), or humping your leg!

(Yeah. Just be glad I didn't mention all of that!)

And of course, we want to purge our daily discourse of all those horribly negative animal stereotypes. "Drunk as a skunk?" Yep, every time I hear that, I certainly think it's accurate, and that all skunks are lushes... and as a result, I judge the little stinkers accordingly. Well, don't you?

On the other hand, for some strange reason I kinda like the term "sly as a fox." Go figure.

Insensitivity toward any living creature is a terrible thing, of course... but there's also an uncomfortable point where we can become too damned sensitive. And that refers to our attitudes about people and pets alike, I daresay.

Hm. When will one of my readers attack me for referring to you all as "fellow babies?" (Ah, to hell with it. I'll just blame Dr. Johnny Fever.)

Actually, I first heard the term "companion animal" over fifteen years ago! It was probably originated by someone at PETA, a well-meaning group which tends to take things much too far at times. (Anyone remember their "sea kittens" campaign?) At the time, my fiancée -- Number Two in a series, collect 'em all! -- owned a cat named Max. My reaction was "Oh, great. Do I have to start referring to Max as a Feline-American companion animal?"

Only a few weeks later, on the then-new TV show Politically Incorrect, Bill Maher jokingly referred to his dog as a "Canine-American." I should have sued. But, once again, I digress.

Anyway, if you really want me to start thinking of a dog, an iguana, or a freakin' goldfish as my personal equal and/or roommate, I say: Let the lazy little "companion animal" go out, get a freakin' job, and start helping with the rent.

But that's just me. I'm  a different kind of cat.

Oops. I'd better retire that expression, too, I guess!

I tried to be fair when I wrote this post. I really did! In fact, I even asked my cat Orson what he thought of the whole controversy. Not so surprisingly, he didn't even dignify the issue with an answer! Of course, if he had said anything, I suspect it would have been somewhere along the lines of "Who cares? Feed me."

In closing, here's an aside to those of you who are still holding on to your Pet Rock from the 1970s: Henceforth, you will be required to refer to this nostalgic keepsake as your "companion mineral." Just sayin'.

Thanks for your time... companion babies.


  1. You now, I actually had already read that and thought it was some sort of late April fool's joke!

  2. hahahahaha well I never read that, but if I did you sure saved me the trouble of a rant. That is just so stupid.

    Every point you hit was great and true. I also like animals better than most people and yes cats/dogs do tend to own us more than we own them.

    Agreed the day I call them a companion is the day they get off their lazy ass and help pay the bills..haha. Some people have too much time on their hands. I wonder if some idiot got paid for this "oh so clever" written piece.

    What next? I'm sure there is some plant life that feels threatened by the terms we use, maybe we should liberate them.

  3. @Mmm: It's no joke, more's the pity.

    @Pat: Plant life. Love it. Actually, this editorial was written by a so-called "academic," but I thought some of the phrasing was rather awkward. I would suggest that their editorial needed... well... an editor.

  4. Yeah and the so called academic probably has never taken his nose out of a book and been out in the real world, instead just trying to sound all profound with some stupid idea. Yep definetly needed an editor.

  5. It all sounds very sensible to me and long overdue. (Please Note, this comment has been submitted by Amy, AB's companion and exerciser)

  6. @Amy (via Alan): I like the way you think!

  7. Oh, this was very entertaining! Too bad it's stupid. Who thinks of these things? The same people that are trying to outlaw dodge ball and field day ribbons in elementary schools because someone's feelings might get hurt.

  8. David....that was a long trip for a clever punchline..."companion mineral"...but it was was worth it. Thanks...Paul


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