August 2011
On the Edge of Common Sense

Animal Naming Abuse

Common language on fauna betrays an anthropocentric bias…"Words like ‘pets,’ ‘wildlife’ and ‘vermin’ are derogatory…" says the director of the Oxford Center for Animal Ethics.

I imagine there are people in England who take the director seriously. But, as we watch this once-powerful nation disintegrate before our eyes, it may be observed it has truly gone to the dogs.

Even using similes like ‘sly as a fox,’ ‘drunk as a skunk’ or ‘perky as a porpoise’ are considered animal abuse. Actually, the word ‘Animal’ is not approved and the description ‘Differentiated Being’ is preferred, according to the director.

I would posit the question, "How vacant must a person’s brain be to think up this kind of stuff?" Then I realized, I do the same thing! Maybe I should offer my services to the Oxford Center for the Nomenclaturally Disadvantaged Species, formerly known as the Center for (the A-word) Ethics. The first thing I would do is change the name of the Oxford Center, in itself shows an oxencentric bias, implying the faculty is ox-like in their thinking, a definite derogation of the bovine species.

I would eliminate the Chinese calendar, no more ‘year of the Rooster.’ Rewrite history: "King Richard, The Free-Living Cardio Ruler." Change car names: the Dodge Ethanol Charger. Edit phrases: "It’s raining salt and pepper!" and "Well, I’ll be the brother of a simian’s mother!"

How dare we humans call ourselves Buffalo Bill, Snoop Dog, Michael J. Fox or Aardvark Montoya! It’s okay to slander humans: Manic Depressive, Reprimand or Commando. But cruel to use abducted, dogmatic, hoarse, medicate, lampoon, irate or supplicant.

It’s nice to know there are other people who think outside the box. Civilization needs them to help us define the difference between normal and hallucinatory. The director illustrates my point and, forgive my anthropomorphic bias, is crazy as a loon!

Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television and also through his books, cds, videos and website,