By Constance Young
How We Lie to Maintain Our Animal Bias
The book Animal Equality - Language and Liberation by Joan Dunayer, is a
powerful presentation of how we maintain the status quo toward other species by
using deceptive and biased language.
For example, hunters call animals they like to hunt "game"; people who raise
animals for food call them "food animals" -
instead of what they truly are, "vertebrates" who are stalked, and "mammals" who
are bred to be killed for food. Other animals have "vices," turkeys are "lazy"
or "stupid" and pigs are "stubborn" or "unclean."
Calves who are jumpy from
severe confinement are "flakey," those too upset or ill to eat are "duds."
Dunayer also relates animal anecdotes that show the true humanity of other
species. She tells of two rats whom she adopted.
(Note, I don't use the
impersonal "that," which is reserved for "things.")
The two rats, Vegan and Nori
(who was blind), always snuggled together. Once her cat companion Chi appeared
to be trying to enter their cage. Dunayer saw Vegan rush forward, pushing Nori
behind him, positioning himself as a shield. Vegan then confronted Chi, who
retreated. When Vegan died two years later, Nori's personality changed; he
became listless and withdrawn, "visibly mourning" his companion.
tells other wonderful tales about crows, raccoons, spiders, and many other
species of animals.
This is a wonderful book for people who care about animals - and language.