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Petty controversy: Is it insulting to call animals 'pets?'
The Journal of Animal Ethics says people will start treating their "companion animals" better when they stop talking down to them
Shown here: A creature who can't quite believe that her "human carer" referred to her as a lowly "pet."
Shown here: A creature who can't quite believe that her "human carer" referred to her as a lowly "pet."
CC BY: Noel Zia Lee
T

he controversy: A new academic journal wants animal lovers to stop calling their dogs, cats, and hamsters "pets." The term, argues the inaugural editorial of the Journal of Animal Ethics, is "derogatory." A less insulting alternative: "Companion animals." And never refer to yourself as an owner, because that's oppressive, too. You're a "human carer." The journal, published jointly by the Oxford Center for Animal Ethics and the University of Illinois, isn't just shielding domestic animals from hurtful language. Also discouraged: The insensitive terms "critter" and "beast," as well as phrases like "drunk as a skunk." Such abusive vocabulary, the editorial says, only encourages people to treat animals badly.
The reaction:
"You'd have to be crazier than a loon, if not downright batty, to buy into this monkey business," says Jonah Goldberg, none too subtly, at National Review. "I'm all for treating animals humanely," but this excessive bit of political correctness is ridiculous. OK, it would be a bit silly if Petsmart changes its name to Companionanimalmart, says Jonathan Turley at FavStocks. But, come to think of it, even the morally acceptable term seems a bit insulting. "It suggests that my dog Molly is accompanying me rather than the opposite. I prefer 'non-human associate being.'"

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