Animal Crackers

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Did you hear that the Journal of Animal Ethics wants you to abandon the use of the word “pet” in favor of “companion animal?” Here’s how one news site reports it:

“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,” the journal argued.

Veterinarian Jane Corkum said that the politically correct terms might be a little overboard. But she said the idea of identifying an “animal-companion” as more than just a critter is important to most owners.

“I don’t find it an offense to calling them a pet because I think of my pet as a friend or as a companion, so I think it is just a word,” said Corkum. “But I can certainly see why some people do want to get rid of it and just call them a companion or a friend or family member even.”

Why, those silly animal people! Thank goodness we have veterinarian(!) Jane Corkum to acknowledge that they’re going overboard, even though you have to admit that they kinda have a point. Of course, Ms. Corkum knows what she’s talking about. She’s a veterinarian. So she knows animals.

No, the vet wasn’t included for that reason. The vet was included because the reporter agreed with her that the Journal had a point. The vet serves the same purpose as the second salesperson on the Home Shopping Network. The vet represents you, the reasonable person. This is what you, the reasonable person, should think.

This isn’t just an article about a group who wants to convince society to replace one word with another. This is a case study in how a reporter sells a point of view. “Ya, they’re a little over the top, but they do have a point, right? Right?” All presented by a person identified as an authority on the subject as the reasonable middle road. 

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About JohnJ

Law student, currently studying for the Illinois bar exam. Iraq vet.

8 Responses to Animal Crackers

  1. Guy Fox says:

    Wow JohnJ! I never thought about it like that. I’m going to tell all my friends to get a login at Partial Objects right away so that they too can profit from this wonderful service at a price that’s really a steal! My RSS feed will never be the same ol’ same ol’ again!

    (Good point, good post.)

  2. Tiburon. says:

    Very very good. Concise and to the point. Of course, it’s nothing groundbreaking to recognize this, but it is very easy to overlook.

  3. BluegrassJack says:

    wow. so, we should replace a 3-letter word with actually 2 much longer words. Those words don’t actually describe the technical and emotional relationship between the parties better. ..Make a simple thing more complicated, for the purpose of…….what?

    maybe an Animal Rights Lawyer (there probably are such things) could collect the fee (billable by the hour) representing Fifi when she is hatefully described as a “pet”. It may be just a little over the top. But, if we can stop just one such abuse, it will all be worth it.

    • Pastabagel says:

      “Companion animal” is also more confusing. Would someone who rides horses consider them pets? But they are “companion animals,” right? A seeing-eye dog is a companion animal, but it isn’t a pet. This arbitrary word changing is particularly obnoxious. Really it’s about some activist/lawyer trying to get some press, so they can then get on TV as an animal rights expert, so they can then charge pornographic speaking fees for public appearances where they will preach to the choir. In an echo chamber.

      American political discourse stinks.

  4. Dirk Anger says:

    Not only they’re selling a point, but also that point is wrong. See, in Spain animals are called both pet an “companion animal” (“mascota” and “animal de compañía”), indistinctly, since, well, always. And that doesn’t keep Spaniards from stabbing bulls to death, have masses of drunken people terrorizing them (with or without putting firecrackers or flares on their horns), throwing goats from belltowers, strangling dogs when they’re too old to hunt etc.

    Some times changing the language is overrated.

  5. claudius says:

    Excellent points. Might I add that often the press also does this because of “fairness.” There always has to be two sides that are represented, they can’t just come out and say “this is WRONG/RIGHT.” Hell, sometimes they will even represent another side when there is no real argument. Why does it always have to be a bipolar divide? Why can’t it be unipolar, or multipolar?

    This is ludicrous because in the case of the all too common bipolar (dividing) story they always come back to some flippy floppy middle ground. I guess this was the “reasonable” point all along. They want to say something without saying anything.

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