Pass notes No 2,967: Companion animals

'Pets' is no longer the preferred term for, y'know, those animals you keep in your house

Age: 15,000 years or more.

Appearance: Slightly less downtrodden than they used to be.

I have no idea what this is about. May I guess? You don't usually bother to ask.

It's one last dribble from the royal wedding news-bladder. To reward her faithful corgis for barely biting any guests, the Queen has been handing out some meaningless titles. Arise, Rex Barkalot, Member of the Distinguished Order of Companion Animals! Was that simply an excuse to use the words "royal wedding news-bladder"?

We all know the answer to that question. Perhaps you should just explain what a "companion animal" is. It's what we used to call a "pet".

What do you mean, used to? Apparently the term is derogatory to animals.

Says who? The Journal of Animal Ethics.

Never heard of it. It's a new publication from the University of Illinois and the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.

Or that. It's a thinktank for "the advancement of progressive thought about animals".

Is it part of Oxford University? It's been weeks since we had the opportunity to sneer at a bunch of floppy-haired Jeremys. Test said floppy-haired Jeremys' sense of humour, you mean. No, there are no formal links. But the centre's director, the Reverend Professor Andrew Linzey, is a member of Oxford's theology faculty.

Does the journal have any other advice for "companion animal" owners? For a start, the word owner "harks back to a previous age when animals were regarded as just that: property, machines or things to use without moral constraint". The preferred term is "human carer". Also "wild" animals should instead be described as "free-living" or "free-roaming".

Because? Because "'wildness' is synonymous with uncivilised, unrestrained, barbarous existence. There is an obvious prejudgment here."

You could not make it up. You could. But it wouldn't be half as funny.

Don't say: "It's political correctness gone mad!"

Do say: "It's political correctness deviating from the generally accepted norms of perception!"

The GuardianTramp

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