Marquette Warrior: Prominent Academics: Don’t Call Your Pets “Pets”

Friday, April 29, 2011

Prominent Academics: Don’t Call Your Pets “Pets”

You can file this under “there is nothing so stupid that a bunch of college professors won’t embrace it.” From the Telegraph:
Animal lovers should stop calling their furry or feathered friends “pets” because the term is insulting, leading academics claim.

Domestic dogs, cats, hamsters or budgerigars should be rebranded as “companion animals” while owners should be known as “human carers,” they insist.

Even terms such as wildlife are dismissed as insulting to the animals concerned – who should instead be known as “free-living”, the academics including an Oxford professor suggest.

The call comes from the editors of then Journal of Animal Ethics, a new academic publication devoted to the issue.

It is edited by the Revd Professor Andrew Linzey, a theologian and director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, who once received an honorary degree from the Archbishop of Canterbury for his work promoting the rights of “God’s sentient creatures”.

In its first editorial, the journal – jointly published by Prof Linzey’s centre and the University of Illinois in the US – condemns the use of terms such as “critters” and “beasts.”

It argues that “derogatory” language about animals can affect the way that they are treated.

“Despite its prevalence, ‘pets’ is surely a derogatory term both of the animals concerned and their human carers,” the editorial claims.

“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.”

It goes on: “We invite authors to use the words ‘free-living’, ‘free-ranging’ or ‘free-roaming’ rather than ‘wild animals.’

“For most, ‘wildness’ is synonymous with uncivilised, unrestrained, barbarous existence.

“There is an obvious prejudgment here that should be avoided.”

Prof Linzey and his co-editor Professor Priscilla Cohn, of Penn State University in the US, also hope to see some of the more colourful terms in the English language stamped out.

Phrases such as “sly as a fox,” “eat like a pig” or “drunk as a skunk” are all unfair to animals, they claim.

“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 say.

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Blogger GTChristie said...

Next we will need some special certification to call ourselves human.

But at least we can no longer call our enemies animals or beasts.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is no different than giving "Human" rights to mother nature.

All this is aimed at attacking religion. If man has no more rights than a dog or a tree or a worm, how can we claim to be created in God's image and endowed with a spirit. It is just secular humanism run amok.

2:53 AM  
Anonymous CompassionateIntellect said...

I'm confused as to how Anonymous thinks this is attacking religion at all? First, Dr. Linzey is a theologian, and it's certainly not attacking religion to just say that we should not use derogatory terms to describe animals, as that creates within our own selves, a devaluing/degrading of them. When we say someone is lazy as a dog or other such comments, it's really just our way of insulting people, by comparing them to animals in a pejorative way. It's a "little" thing to change our language in some ways, but we have changed our way for language for certain humans that were considered "inferior" by once calling children "retarded" instead of "developmentally disabled" and the list from here goes on and on. . . We can say someone is "pleasingly plump" rather than "fat as a pig (or fat sow)" or using the moniker for female dog to slam a human woman (the "b" word), and you can see the difference more easily. And as for animal rights, no one is saying in this or other articles in the Journal, that animals have the exact same rights in all circumstances, but that that the more higher ordered animals (such as mammals, birds, etc.) CAN feel, often emotion, as well as pain, of course, as we living beings are not just divided into two categories here on earth--"animals" and then "humans." We're genetically related to the rest of the animal kingdom and that carries it with it many similar traits as we have discovered, obviously. Science has progressed far thru the centuries when it began with the attitude that animals dud not even feel pain and yes, that was actually a subject of real debate--look at arguments between Descartes and Voltaire, to learn more and some of this may still persist today to some degree. . . If you'd read any of Linzey's books, like "Animal Theology" you'd see that he's only asking that we treat animals better than we do now for the most part based on scientific merit, and give them some spiritual merit, based on a theological basis, as well. And Linzey uses his religion as a starting point on why he believes animals do deserve much better treatment and not cruelty, and why this stance is not inconsistent with religion & spirituality, at all. I hope you're not saying that all the cruelties caused by man upon our fellow creatures (which God also created these creatures & "pronounced them good") is acceptable to God & that we have "rights" to be cruel, if we so choose. That view that the rest of Creation has no value in their own right is certainly not Christ-like, or acceptable, is certainly "a-theistic"-- not of God.

8:57 AM  
Anonymous James Pawlak said...

I would approve of this if those persons would keep out of politics. Unfortunately, they also vote.

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do realize you offered no argument as to why Linzey's claim is so "stupid." You merely assume what you believe to be obvious (which is a dogmatic anthropocentric worldview), without critically considering whether Linzey has a point. Way to challenge your own beliefs!

Part of being an academic is challenging your unreflective assumptions or at least providing an ARGUMENT as to why they hold up.

You simply just copied and pasted quotes from Linzey without providing an actual argument why he is wrong. Does political science not encourage critical thinking?

What exactly is so absurd about calling nonhuman animals who live with us "companion animals?" The idea of affording respect to animals really seems to threaten you-- and that's scary.

If I remember right, from reading your other nonsense written on other blogs, you defend christianity. But you obviously have not paid thoughtful attention to the many passages in the bible that demand an ethic for nonhuman animals. Andrew Linzey has spent his CAREER analyzing biblical passages, and for you to ramble on about how wrong he is without offering ANY argument is LAUGHABLE.

10:12 PM  

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