PETA wants you to give a bird a baked good and I have some questions. The advocacy group tweeted out new guidelines for avoiding speciesist language in our commonly used phrases last night. The list of suggestions, which seems to be completely serious, encourages ridding your lexicon of phrases like “Take the bull by the horns” and replacing them with “Take the flower by the thorns.” Which… doesn’t really seem like the same thing. But do it for the animals.
The list has caused quite a stir online because it seems to completely ignore how words work in favor of rhyming like a deleted chapter from Hop On Pop. On one hand, I’m very into this. This seems like total linguistic chaos and that’s truly the energy I’m trying to manifest in my everyday life. On the other hand, though, I just don’t see myself switching out these phrases un-ironically any time soon.
Like, don’t get me wrong: I love animals. Milo, Otis, Fievel, half of Ariel, my childhood goldfish named after The Golden Girls—all faves. Huge fan. And I love vegetarians and vegans; Linda McCartney’s cookbook is a holy book in my house. I don’t believe in cruelty to animals or wearing fur. I would never take a bull by any part, let alone a horn. I’m not here to hurt any animal’s feelings but these words, beloveds, are just not it.
The organization followed up their list with a second tweet in which they claimed, “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.” Ah, yes, every time a random stranger calls me a f*ggot for walking down the street and minding my own business, I immediately think, “This must be how a robin feels when it overhears me saying ‘kill two birds with one stone,’ something I would never do and have never done because where would I find a stone and what do I need with two birds?” Very normal and acceptable comparisons happening here. Very relatable content.
How do I put this in a way that’s kind? This feels like a first draft and I’m vexed. Let’s take the new phrases one-by-one.
Feed two birds with one scone.
Okay, absolutely not. First of all, scones are expensive, so that’s going to be a no from me.
Even if the scone is homemade, unless I am trying to beguile the Glamour Duck or an albino peacock, I am keeping all my fancy baked treats to myself. What’s next, give a macaw a macaroon? Not on my watch!
Also! How big are these birds that two of them are sharing a whole scone? Is it a mini-scone from Starbucks? Even still! EVEN. STILL! These greedy birds need to fall back. If I’ve just won the Powerball and I’m tossing scones like confetti, I’m feeding at least 20 birds. I’m feeding seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, four calling birds, three French hens, two whole-ass turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree. This is just impractical. Also! Every time I go to the duck pond they tell me not to give the ducks bread. So, what is the truth?!
Be the test tube.
Sounds sexual! Next!
Feed a fed horse.
What is going on over there? Do these people understand husbandry? Why are they so obsessed with giving animals food they don’t want? I will admit, this sort of works. Why would you feed a fed horse? But it does take a second to figure out. We all need to just start saying “I don’t want to belabor the point” like actual adults.
Bring home the bagels.
I am now ready to go public with my theory that PETA is in the pocket of the Carb Lobby. There’s no other explanation for it. They want to give birds scones, they want you to fill your family with bagels. What next, replacing Happy Honda Days with Happy Challah Days? This is too much. Did PETA write this list or was it written by Peeta, the carb-loving, squirrelly baker from The Hunger Games. Collusion!
Take the flowers by the thorns.
I just… What? If you take a bull by the horns, you’re taking control of its direction. I guess. I really don’t know; I’m not an Instagram Adventurer. I’ve literally never seen a bull. But I’ve seen plenty of roses in my lifetime of cosplaying various scenes from Beauty and the Beast and let me tell you, thorns hurt! Do not grab! Very ouch! If you grab the rose by the thorns, you are not exerting control. The rose is in control and it hates you.
Look, I’m all about making our language more sensitive and inclusive. I’m just saying, make it make sense. I don’t want to feed a fed horse about this (nope, still not working for me). Still, there will be some that think I’m being too harsh. I accept that. Bring on the boos, I say. Or rather, bring on the moos.
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