People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on Tuesday gave Twitter a rare moment of unity.
The animal rights group was deluged with ridicule for a tweet that admonished the public to “Stop Using Anti-Animal Language.” PETA provided a helpful chart with examples of verboten phrases and suggested alternatives.
Words matter, and as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it. Here’s how to remove speciesism from your daily conversations. pic.twitter.com/o67EbBA7H4
— PETA (@peta) December 4, 2018
Twitter users from across the political spectrum concurred: PETA is stupid. Progressive journalist Ira Madison was among those who accused PETA of diminishing human rights with its shenanigans.
PETA is always conflating their work with the struggles of black people, queer people, and other people of color I’m so glad I just had steak for lunch
— Ira (@ira) December 4, 2018
Plus-size fashion blogger Bethany Rutter wondered if group might be secretly advancing the interests of the meat industry.
Do you ever wonder if PETA is a false flag set up by Big Meat to make everyone hate vegans https://t.co/ImnqNBk9BB
— Bert (@bethanyrutter) December 5, 2018
Meanwhile, The Daily Wire conservative news website joined in the orgy of “pun”-ditry at PETA’s expense.
Stop grilling them over this. No one should have beef with PETA, animal justice is at steak. Can we meat them half way? This is imporkant stuff!
— The Daily Wire (@realDailyWire) December 5, 2018
Republican Sen. Orin Hatch of Utah ― who has previously made clear his love of cured pork ― appeared particularly offended by PETA’s admonition to swap “Bring home the bacon” with “Bring home the bagels.”
Other Twitter users adopted PETA’s logic to take apart its recommended neologisms. For example, it was widely noted that phrase “Feed two birds with one scone” promotes a potentially dangerous practice.
You’re not supposed to feed scones to birds, feeding a fed horse would make it sick and if you pick flowers aren’t you depriving bees of their resources? THANK U, NEXT. https://t.co/e51SazdJdL
— Roisin O’Connor (@Roisin_OConnor) December 5, 2018
PETA’s attempt to police language is not out of step with the cultural trend toward protecting people from words, which recently saw a British university admonish lecturers not to use capital letters for fear the large text could trigger students. And the group’s larger effort to equate humanism and veganism jives with the concept of “intersectionality,” or the idea that all forms of oppression should be resisted as a single force.
And yet, PETA has demonstrated a unique capacity to bring Americans together in opposition to its radical agenda. Just last week, the group put up a widely reviled billboard in California that sought to shame feminists into cutting eggs out of their diet.
So maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that even the scattered Twitter defenses of PETA’s newspeak generally kept some distance.
— Jeff Roberts (@jeffjohnroberts) December 4, 2018
Still, the group seemed as usual to thrive on the negative attention. In a follow-up tweet, it compared anti-animal language to racist and homophobic rhetoric and predicted that its viewpoint would one day prevail.
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.
— PETA (@peta) December 4, 2018
For what it’s worth, in “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker’s 2011 empirical ode to human progress, he rejected the idea that expanding human rights will eventually come to encompass animals. As proof that the two moral realms are not inextricably linked, Pinker noted that Hitler and many of his minions were vegetarians and that the Nazis passed some of the strictest-ever laws protecting animals.