We have previously discussed curious campaigns by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) like seeking to change the expression “bring home the bacon” with “bring homes the bagels.” Now the animal rights group appears to be tapping into the movement for speech curtailment and regulation by declaring the use of animals to be “supremacist” and “speciesist.” Thus, it calls for the end of the use of pig, chicken, pig, rat, snake and other terms as pejorative terms to “stand up for justice by rejecting supremacist language.”
PETA tweeted that “calling someone an animal as an insult reinforces the myth that humans are superior to other animals & justified in violating them.” The group further noted that “Pigs … are intelligent, lead complex social lives, and show empathy for other pigs in distress,” they wrote. “Snakes are clever, have family relationships, and prefer to associate with their relatives.”
As a fervent animal lover and backpacker, I have long criticized the radicalization of PETA which has become a caricature of itself. Many of us support animal rights but do not feel that we can support PETA under its current leadership and often self-defeating agenda.
The overwhelming mockery led to a push back from PETA President Ingrid Newkirk who told The Post, “The kneejerk dismissals are a reflection of the times we want to put behind us, and after ridicule comes discussion and then acceptance . . . it shouldn’t be controversial to assert that the words we use have the power to create a more inclusive world or to perpetuate oppression, and PETA is simply asking everyone to think before they speak — or type.”
PETA also argued in a follow-up Tweet further denouncing “speciesist” language.
It is ironic that Newkirk is advocating for everyone “to think before they speak — or type,” which is precisely what some of us have been encouraging PETA to consider. Under Newkirk, PETA has gone “all in” with the most extreme element of the animal rights movement. In doing so, it lost the ability to speak for the vast majority of us who favor stronger animal rights legislation and measures.
It is certainly true that pigs are smart and snakes have family relationship. Most people who say that you should not “be a pig” are not really pig haters or discriminators. They are referencing the large consumption of virtually any food by pigs as well as the conditions of the common pig pen or pig hollow. The reference to snakes is often due to their being furtive and clandestine in their movements. I expect that if these animals could speak they would tell their offspring not to be as loud, wasteful, or clumsy as a human.
The only accomplishment from this campaign is to add the pejorative reference of being “as clueless as PETA.”