Last December, the Twitter account for the animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) set off a full-fledged media furor. The tweet in question set out to enumerate the linguistic sins of “speciesism”—the practice of discriminating against living things based on their species affiliation. “Words matter,” the group wrote, “and as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it.” PETA attached a chart of common phrases (e.g. “kill two birds with one stone”) that, by the group’s lights, perpetuate such discrimination and normalize violence against animals. For good measure, PETA’s language policers provided a list of suggested replacements (“feed two birds with one scone”). Cue the furor. The ensuing backlash was so uniform and so heavy that any onlooker might have thought that the derogation of animal rights is one of the last issues on which Democrats, Republicans, and independents agree. The Washington Post dedicated a mocking 700-word article to the uproar, suggesting that PETA was on a “wild juice chase.” Conservative culture warriors relished the chance to lay into another example of the language-correcting excesses of the left. Liberals meanwhile argued that PETA was minimizing racism, sexism, and homophobia by equating those… Read full this story
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