A recent story going around the media started with PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. This has always been a controversial organisation, getting media coverage for stunts, and this latest episode is no exception. Ingrid Newkirk, the president of PETA, compared calling animals “pets”to the treatment of women before feminism, when they were not allowed to own property or were patronisingly called ‘sweetie’ or ‘honey’ to make them seem ‘less of a person’. She was making the point that pets are not ours as decorations or toys; they are living beings.
Her statements were distorted in translation, with people believing that she had said that animals would be offended at being called pets (she didn’t say that, and it is obvious that animals would not be capable of being offended even if they understood the word). People were saying that it was political correctness gone mad, do people have nothing else more to worry about, and the general sense was that this was a piece of extreme animal rights lunacy.
So when they asked me to come onto Ivan Yates “Hard Shoulder” radio programme to discuss this, I was delighted. You see, this was not really about the mad idea of “not offending pets”: PETA had cleverly used the anti-politically-correct mood of our times to grab media attention, so that they could discuss the issue that is close to their heart – and mine. This is the fact that animals are sentient beings, more like humans than most people realise, and that they are worthy of more respect that most of us give them. Yes, many pets are as well cared for as most human beings on the planet. But there are also many pets that are treated like commodities, like possessions without intrinsic value, and that is what this discussion is all about.
To listen to the discussion, click on the play button below.