Abusing Animals and Language

Reports of animal abuse at industrial operations are so frequent that they attract less and less notice.  This recent abuse of pigs at an Iowa swine facility, revealed through a covert PETA video is but one of many such tragic instances.  And, of course, the facility reacted with shock and sadness that such events could and did occur at their operation, dedicated as it is to humane practices and a zero-tolerance policy with respect to abuse.  And, perhaps we should take an equally jaundiced view of the fact that some of the people allegedly involved in the abuse continue to work at the facility (see this story in the SF Chronicle).

I wonder if it is because I am so jaded and weary that a good part of my outrage stems from the fact that such facilities can call themselves “farms.”  When language degrades, behavior is swift to follow.  As our language shifts to accommodate the new realities of the animal industry, we must not lose the battle over the vocabulary used to describe it.

Orwell was right; words matter.  Sometimes they are all that does.

David Cassuto

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