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Professor Andrew Linzey, director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, says we shouldn’t use the word “pet” anymore to describe our dogs because the phrase is demeaning to them. He suggests that instead of such insensitive and bigoted language we should call our Labrador Retrievers “companion animals.”
Linzey goes further and says that for the sake of Fido we should call ourselves “human carers” rather than using the pejorative term of “owner.”
Prof. Priscilla Cohn of Penn State University joins with Linzey in agreement. In a UK Telegraph article both professors tell us that we should “ discipline ourselves” to use appropriate language that reflects our proper “moral relations[hip] with” animals. The word “owner,” they say, “hark[en]s back to a previous age when animals were regarded as … property, machines or things to use.”
The good doctors go a bit further: They object to the term “wildlife” because, they say, “’wildness’ is synonymous with uncivilized, unrestrained, barbarous existence.” They caution against such prejudgments of our furry friends and call all fair-minded folks to start using words like “free-living,” “free-ranging,” or “free-roaming” rather than “wild” when describing animals because such language is more egalitarian and inclusive and just.
I am not kidding. I’m not making this stuff up. Leading scholars at premier universities are actually peddling this pabulum!
But stop for a moment before you act surprised. If you hold to a worldview grounded in radical Darwinism, these absurd conclusions actually do make sense. If human beings are mere products of random selection—if we have evolved out of the primordial soup along with all other organisms—then why wouldn’t a dog, a pig, a cat, or a cow be entitled to the same rights and even the same defining language as you or me?