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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Words are meaningless

Published 05/19/08
By Jessica Stout, Office Generalist

Words are meaningless. And I do not mean that in the “Words are meaningless, action is everything” sort of way. I mean that as in, words are just sounds that we designate to mean things, but ultimately, words are just sounds we make with our mouths. They mean nothing other than what we decide to make them mean. I can say good-bye to a loved one with the intentions of seeing them again, or good-bye to a not-so-loved-one, with not a single intention to see them again. And yet, I can use the same word. Ultimately, it is not the word that means anything — it is the intention behind it.

How does this relate to our work here at Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute? Because too often words are used to make a distinction as to why it is ok to treat one species of animal one way, and one species of animal another. We label certain animals as “Food Animals,” and then it is ok to pack them like sardines in trucks and ships that will take them on a journey, often in sweltering heat, for up to 24 hours or more. We label other animals as “Fur Animals,” and then it is ok to electrocute them to death. Then, of course, we label some animals as “Domestic Animals,” and then the aforementioned treatment of the “Food Animals” and “Fur Animals” would be looked at as horrific and sick.

Take for instance Michael Vick: The public was outraged to hear that some of his Pit Bulls had been killed by electrocution. But how about the Minks, Chinchillas, and Foxes who endure that horrifying death daily, just to make a fancy jacket? It’s as if the pain and suffering of the animals get lost in the translation of these words that we put on them. If it is a dog, and thus a “Companion Pet,” it’s horrific that they were electrocuted, but if it’s a Mink, and thus a “Fur Animal,” then it is ok ... luckily those special words take away their ability to feel pain.

So, let’s strip away the words; because they mean nothing; they are just sounds coming out of our mouths. Below are five horrors faced by 5 different types of animals. One example will be an atrocity faced by millions of dogs and cats; and the rest will all be other species. You try and guess which one example is the “Domestic Animals,” and which one are the “Other Animals.” The answers are at the bottom:

  1. Are kept for the purpose of milking them for their bile; where, once they have stopped producing a viable amount of bile, their paws are cut off for soup, and they are destroyed.
  2. 12 to 24 of these dead adult animals are needed to make one fur coat; 40 of their young are used to make one fur coat.
  3. Routinely castrated/neutered without the use of anesthesia as a means of reducing cost.
  4. Being beaten with a hooked cane is how they are routinely trained.
  5. One of the most common methods of killing them is by breaking their necks.

I leave you with two questions before I give you the answers: How much do the answers really matter? If they are atrocious acts towards one species, then why are they not atrocious for all?

  1. Asiatic Black Bears
  2. Cats and Dogs
  3. Most farmed animals, including sheep and pigs
  4. Circus Elephants
  5. Animals used in fur

Blogging off,


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