ANIMAL rights group Peta have put the cat well and truly among the pigeons by calling on an end to “anti-animal” language.

What, I hear you ask, is anti-animal language? Quite. Given that our non-human chums are almost certainly unlikely to take offence at anything we might say, this seems like a diktat too far. But the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are deadly serious. They want humans to stop using expressions such as “bring home the bacon”, “kill two birds with one stone” and “take the bull by the horns”. Instead, we should mind our language for fear of offending non-humans by using expressions such as “bring home the bagels”, “feed two birds with one scone” and “take the flower by the thorns”. Peta also suggest we “feed a fed horse” rather than flogging a dead one, although I’m at pains to comprehend what harm such flogging will inflict on a horse that’s already dead.

Baked goods and innocent plants are sure to kick back at being abused in such a way, but so far the backlash has only been from humans who have taken to social media to express their feelings after the tweet from Peta that said: “Just as it became unacceptable to use racist, homophobic, or ableist language, phrases that trivialise 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.”

Hannah Else replied: “I am so done with people getting aggy about stupid little things that have even the slightest affiliation with bigger issues.” Another Twitter user responded to Peta: “Words hurt people. Words cannot hurt animals. You do know this right, that they don’t understand when you talk?” And Ryan Ward tweeted: “You guys need to focus more on the actual issues going on. This isn’t going to change anything.”

Peta were quick to respond: “To the haters: with so much negativity in the world, why not lighten up and use language in a way that encourages being kind to animals? To everyone else: add your own anti-speciesist phrases below! Curiosity thrilled the cat (not killed). Eat snow (not crow).”

This prompted a raft of comedy memes in mockery of Peta’s language mission. Soon the story was picked up across broadcast, print and online media. The story was everywhere. And, of course, this was the whole point and the product of some clever PR on behalf of Peta, which has a history of provocative campaigns.

Some of the angriest reaction, however, came from people more upset about Peta’s tweet comparing animal cruelty to racist or homophobic phrases. “Peta is always conflating their work with the struggles of black people, queer people, and other people of color,” US writer and podcast host Ira Madison III tweeted. “I’m so glad I just had steak for lunch.”

Peta responded by saying that “encouraging people to be kind” was not “a competition”.

Then again, it’s a dog eat dog world out there. I wonder what Peta’s stance is regarding animal-on-animal violence. Or does that just open up a whole new can of worms?