PETA Says Stop Speciesism By Avoiding Certain Phrases; Can Language Affect Prejudice?
PETA's post on Twitter (Photo Credits: PETA, Twitter)

PETA means well most of the times, but they end up earning the wrath of all and sundry. People (often the meat-eating kind) get ticked off by the supposed self-righteous tone in their messages and the shock campaigns they run. Seems like they are at it again with their newest Twitter post where they asked people to stop speciesism. People are annoyed because PETA is not only pegging the whole of humankind as species-ists but also asking us to avoid speciesism in the most confusing way possible.

Speciesism, like racism, is a form of discrimination. It’s the belief that human beings are a greater species and deserve more importance than the others. Naturally, speciesism is an anathema for animal rights organisations like PETA. Chanel Bans Fur and Exotic Animal Skins: PETA Welcomes Luxury Fashion Brand's Decision.

Their newest social media post that has confounded netizens speaks about removing speciesism by avoiding “Anti-Animal Language.” So instead of saying “Flogging a dead horse” – a phrase which means a futile effort – PETA wants you to should say “Feed a fed horse.” Priyanka Chopra, Nick Jonas Slams by PETA India for Using Animals at Their Wedding.

Here’s The Twitter Post:

The post comes within weeks of a UK-based academician Shareena Z Hamzah saying: “Metaphors involving meat could gain an increased intensity if the killing of animals for food becomes less socially acceptable.”

To justify their claims, PETA says language promotes prejudices. “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.” Needless to say, people are pissed off.

If you are also rolling your eyes at PETA’s logic, here’s what you should know; we think PETA has a point. This is not to say that we agree with the organisation on the speciesism accusation because it's a contentious topic. But this for those who think the organisation's logic is far-fetched.

Ever wondered why women take offence to the term “chicks” or “bitches”? Or why certain racial slurs are looked down upon? They are wrong not only because they are offensive, but also because they normalise and reinforce hateful attitudes.

How many “Sardar” jokes did it take for us to finally realise how it was hurting the Sikhs? It promoted negative stereotypes about the community, even altering the society’s perception towards them. Same goes for homophobic expressions.

A study by Collins and Clement, published in the Journal of Social Psychology, says that language and prejudice are “inextricably linked.” They also call the language “a vessel or container for holding and conveying cognition” and that it “has a transformative power on attention, thought and memory.”

Just like language is a tool to support the existing social norms, they can also be used as a weapon to change them. Metaphors and phrases are linguistic tools used to convey ideas in a figurative sense. No matter how ridiculous we think they are, PETA  and animal rights activists are right in their belief that by replacing the word “bacon” with “bagels” or “bull” with “flowers,” violent attitudes towards animals can be reduced.