In what may seem a slightly hysterical semantic move, leading academics have claimed that animal lovers should stop calling their domestic animals ‘pets’, because the term is insulting.
In what may seem a slightly exaggerated semantic move, leading academics have claimed that animal lovers should stop calling their domestic animals ‘pets’, because the term is insulting. Domestic dogs, cats or budgerigars should be relabelled “companion animals” while owners should be known as “human carers”, they assert. Terms such as wildlife are also dismissed as insulting to the animals concerned –which should be known instead as “free-living”.
The call has come from the editors of the Journal of Animal Ethics, a new academic publication. It is edited by the Rev Professor Andrew Linzey, director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. In its first editorial, the journal condemns the use of such terms as “beasts” and “critters”. It argues that “derogatory” language about animals can affect the way 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.” ~ London Telegraph, Apr 28
Academics claim that calling animals ‘pets’ is insulting
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