AS MOTHER SAID: “WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE.”
By E. M. Gilbert Jr.
“He who controls the language of the debate wins the debate.” E. M. Gilbert Jr.
Words matter. The way that you choose to talk about your hobby, or cause, can help or hinder you. Many of the activist organizations, such as H$U$ and PeTA, seek to impact society in incremental (but fundamental) ways, beginning with the way that we talk about animal use.
In 2004, the Humane Research Council (HRC) conducted a study on public perceptions of terms like “welfare”, “protection”, and “advocate”. It found that many adults in the U.S. felt alienated by the term “animal rights” and “animal activist”. For that reason, many activist groups shied away from using those terms to identify themselves in favor of more palatable labels such as “animal protection”.
In our interaction with both the Animal Rights advocates (AR) and politicians we need to chose our words and terms with care. The following first term lists the preferred term to be used, followed by the AR term.
Preferred term – AR Term
Animal welfare – Animal rights
Dog fanciers – Purebred dog industry
Owner – Guardian
Ownership – Adoption
Registration papers – Adoption papers
Buy a puppy – Adopt a puppy
Pet owner – Pet guardian
Pet owner – Pet parent
Pet ownership - Slavery
Breeder – Puppy mill
Breeder of more than one litter – Puppy mill
Responsible breeder – Puppy miller
Dog – He
Male - He
Bitch – She
Female - She
Irresponsible owner – Overpopulation
Crates – Cages
Breeder/Owners of multiple animals – Hoarders
Forced sterilization – Mandatory Spay and Neuter
Racism/discrimination bans – Breed specific laws
Lurecourser – Exploited dog
Open field courser – Murderer with exploited dog
Animals – Non-humans
Hunter – Murderer
Hunter - Poacher
Fisherman – Murderer
Trapper - Murderer
Farm or family farm – Factory farm
Domestic animal – Enslaved nonhuman
Racehorse – Exploited horse
Wildlife conservation – Manipulating nonhuman population
Game animals – Targeted non-humans
Sportsman – Non-human animal killer
Animal research – Vivisection
Agricultural or farm animal – Animal enslaved for food
Family farmer – Factory farmer
Dairy farmer – Cow enslaver
Egg farm – Hen enslavement facility
The way we talk or write about our sport, or cause matters.
The above is partially based on the following excellent article: Legislation and You, GSPCA, The Dynamics of Language within the Process of Social Change, by Connie James. Shorthair Journal, January/February 2012 Vol. 13 Issue 1, National Field Edition