Animal activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has drawn ridicule for taking the social justice fight to animal idioms it says are “anti-animal” and “speciesist.”
“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,'” PETA wrote on Twitter on Dec. 4.
“Words matter, and as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it. Here’s how to remove speciesism from your daily conversations,” PETA wrote, and attached a helpful list of harm-neutral, non-speciesist, cruelty-free sayings.
‘Feed Two Birds With One Scone’
The organization recommends people bury the saying, “Kill two birds with one stone” and opt instead for a revised version, “Feed two birds with one scone.”
People who want a figurative way to express the idea of pressing ahead with a pointless endeavor should avoid the saying “Beat a dead horse,” according to PETA, and instead say, “Feed a fed horse.”
PETA provided other examples of how to “stop using anti-animal language.”
Words matter, and as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it. Here’s how to remove speciesism from your daily conversations. pic.twitter.com/o67EbBA7H4
— PETA: Bringing Home the Bagels Since 1980 (@peta) December 4, 2018
‘Love This’ vs ‘Time-Wasting Bilge’
PETA’s post sparked a slew of comments, including a modest selection of expressions of support.
“Words absolutely matter!! I Love this. Been saying for years I hate most of these phrases and don’t use them,” wrote one person on Twitter, before punctuating her post with a heartfelt “Thank you 💜”
Most comments, however, ranged from the sarcastic, “Doesn’t PETA have bigger fish to fry?” to outright offense.
“Ridiculous, time wasting bilge. Unfollowing now. What a shame you can’t focus on the important stuff,” wrote a commenter named James Dreyfus.
Andrew Schlanser questioned the organization’s apparently muddled logic.
“So I’m supposed to grab a flower by the thorns? What about my fingers? Or what about the flowers feelings?”
So I’m supposed to grab a flower by the thorns? What about my fingers? Or what about the flowers feelings?
— Andrew Schlanser (@AndrewSchlanser) December 5, 2018
Jason Yarnell echoed this sentiment, saying that with the expression “take a flower by the thorns,” PETA was guilty of perpetuating another form of “speciesism.”
“Take the flower by the thorns” sounds like some blatant anti-plantism to me. Which is just more speciesism. Shame on you.
— Jason Yarnell (@yaggleberryfinn) December 4, 2018
Jane Denton objected to the newspeak version “Feed two birds with one scone,” calling into question whether the pro-animal organization was aware that feeding white bread to birds could contribute to a slow, agonizing death.
“Wow killing a bird quickly with a stone is more humane than killing them slowly with a scone!” she said, and posted a link to a Nest & Glow article titled “Feeding Bread Is Killing Birds.”
“Feed a “fed” horse?” she continued to lambast the organization. “Overfeeding a horse can kill it too, at the very least cause serious digestive issues! You ethical…?! You’re not informed.
Do your research!”
Wow killing a bird quickly with a stone is more humane than killing them slowly with a scone! Feed a "fed" horse? Overfeeding a horse can kill it too, at the very least cause serious digestive issues! You ethical…?! You're not informed.
Do your research!https://t.co/8WYXORXsii
— Jane🍀Denton🇨🇦🌞 (@JaneDenton_CA) December 6, 2018
Besides, @FierceGenXer pointed out, “beating a horse when it’s already dead – the horse doesn’t feel anything because…it’s dead!”
The Daily Caller pointed out that the list of “anti-animal” idioms in PETA’s table is woefully incomplete, and provided a more complete listing of expressions, along with a call for the activist group to reformulate them into “non-speciesist” versions:
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
A fish rots from the head down
A leopard cannot change its spots
A pig in a poke
A red rag to a bull
A wolf in sheep’s clothing
Act the giddy goat
An albatross around one’s neck
Badger to death
Bats in the belfry
Bee in your bonnet
Bell the cat
(Let the) cat out of the bag
Chickens come home to roost
Curiosity killed the cat
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
Early bird catches the worm
Even a worm will turn
Fit as a butcher’s dog
Fly in the ointment
Get your goat
Go to the dogs
Hair of the dog that bit you
Has the cat got your tongue?
In a pig’s eye
Jump the shark
Lamb to the slaughter
Mad as a March hare
Make a pig’s ear of
Nest of vipers
No room to swing a cat
Pop goes the weasel
Pretty kettle of fish
Raining cats and dogs
Stone the crows
Straw that broke the camel’s back
Till the cows come home
Currently, there is no word on whether PETA is working on the expanded list, or if they have bigger planes to fly.