On Tuesday, PETA released a list of animal-friendly idioms that we should use to replace everyday idioms that are condescending or aggressive towards animals. “Kill two birds with one stone” therefore becomes “Feed two birds with one scone,” “Beat a dead horse” becomes “Feed a fed horse,” and “Take the bull by the horns” becomes “Take a flower by the thorns.”
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>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. <a href=”https://t.co/o67EbBA7H4″>pic.twitter.com/o67EbBA7H4</a></p>— PETA (@peta) <a href=”https://twitter.com/peta/status/1070066047414345729?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>December 4, 2018</a></blockquote>
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In the accompanying caption, the animal rights organization argued that “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.” Specieism, for the record, is a term often used by animal rights advocates that describes discriminatory behavior towards animals on the basis of their species. So PETA’s argument is that using these idioms is just as offensive as using “racist, homophobic, or ableist language.”
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 (@peta) December 4, 2018
Many social media users were outraged by the idea that a phrase like “be the guinea pig” was comparable to racist, sexist or homophobic slurs.
I’m sorry what? My cat will never be affected by me saying “cat got your tongue” in the same way I am affected by someone calling me the n-word, but go off I guess.
— Madi Keith (@MoodyMoot) December 5, 2018
And while some thought that the replacement phrases were kind of clever…
— Jeff Roberts (@jeffjohnroberts) December 4, 2018
…and that bringing home the bagels in particular has a lot of potentianl…
“bring home the bagels” has potential
— j.r. hennessy (@jrhennessy) December 4, 2018
…most agreed they were kind of ridiculous.
The elephant in the room here, is that you’ve let the cat out the bag just how much you’re on a wild goose chase to seek out offence. rationality has gone the the dogs. A bit pig headed. You should quit, cold turkey and let sleeping dogs lie.
— Tim Cocker (@cocker) December 5, 2018
Like the original idioms, a lot of the replacement ones don’t sound like very good ideas. Why would you feed a horse that was already fed? Animal obesity is no joke, PETA!
If you “feed a fed horse” isn’t that overfeeding which could be considered a form of abuse?
— Diisplaced (@Diisplaced) December 5, 2018
Birds shouldn’t really eat one scone, let alone two.
Aren’t scones bad for birds? Birds should only eat seeds and bugs! You should be ashamed of yourselves!
— Judah Maccabeyoncé (@OhNoSheTwitnt) December 5, 2018
And grabbing a flower by its thorns seems like a very poor life choice.
Why would anyone grab a flower by its thorns?!?! https://t.co/fVi5VYuiaA
— Ian McLaren (@iancmclaren) December 4, 2018
It’s also worth noting that a lot of everyday idioms don’t really make any sense, and plenty of them have gruesome backstories.
Some of these are actually kind of clever but I honestly never understood idiom iconoclasm. Just because something has an unpleasant etymology doesn’t mean you should stop using it. It’s illustrative, not literal. https://t.co/8GYqFFwD3Y
— yokotaster (@neontaster) December 4, 2018
Maybe we should just replace all of them?
Don’t put all your kale in one strainer. https://t.co/vzij5UkyNe
— Vince Coglianese (@TheDCVince) December 4, 2018
Or just stop using them at all. Better yet, let’s just communicate solely via emoji!
For more on the odd intricacies of the English language, check out these 30 common words that people are using all wrong.
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