Animal Species and the Language Police

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has taken offense to phrases that they say trivializes cruelty to animals. They call it “Speciesism”. In a recent Twitter post, they wrote “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.”

PETA suggestions for replacements of what they consider ‘Anti-Animal’ Language.

The response to this tweet was not particularly supportive of the concept. For the most part, the internet laughed.

“So you’re saying that there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”
“You’re flogging a dead horse.”
“So you’re advocating violence against flowers now.”
“PETA probably has bigger fish to fry…oops.”
“So, Curiosity thrilled the cat (not killed).”
“Hey peta! You forgot to let the weather know it has to stop raining cats and dogs.”
“I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, sound too pig headed, but want to address the elephant in the room, there is more than one way to skin a cat.”
“We should also address the 800-pound gorilla in the room who is the perfect weight because we don’t body shame here.”

There are hundreds of phrases that are inspired by animals. Do they trivialize cruelty to animals or are they simply a reflection of our interesting and complex language? How is our language being shaped by the growing influence of Pressure Group Language Police?

The Phrase Finder is an excellent compilation of Animal Inspired Phrases which include:
1. At a snail’s pace
2. Busy as a bee
3. Open a can of worms
4. Wild goose chase
5. The world is your oyster
6. Watching like a hawk
7. Mad as a hornet
8. Dog eat dog
9. Eagle eyes
10. Get your ducks in a row
11. Guinea pig
12. Hold your horses
13. I’ll be a monkey’s uncle
14. Let sleeping dogs lie
15. Pet peeve
16. Pick of the litter
17. Puppy love
18. Like shooting fish in a barrel
19. A little bird told me
20. Bull in a china shop
21. Butterflies in one’s stomach
22. All bark and no bite
23. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
24. Wolf in sheep’s clothing
25. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

What is your favourite animal idiom?

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