People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sparked a debate on social media stating that using slurs surrounding animals amounted to speciesism. The statement confused Twitter users who expressed their amusement on the micro-blogging website.
In a tweet posted on Jan. 26, PETA said that using animal-related slurs showed that humans were superior to the other species. It also included an infographic encouraging people to replace animal slurs with other insulting remarks such use "repulsive" instead of "pig."
"Anti-animal slurs degrade animals by applying negative human traits to certain species. Perpetuating the idea that animals are sly, dirty, or heartless desensitizes the public and normalizes violence against other animals," PETA said in a tweet.
On Wednesday, PETA tagged Merriam Webster and Dictionary.com's Twitter accounts and urged them to remove "speciesist insults."
"PETA is asking @MerriamWebster, @Dictionarycom, & others to help combat speciesism & reduce animal abuse by removing derogatory definitions of pigs, snakes, & dogs," it tweeted.
What is Speciesism?
Speciesism means treating members of one species as morally important than the members of other species. English philosopher Richard Ryder introduced the term in the 1970s and Australian philosopher Peter Singer popularized it. For long, animal rights activists and philosophers have argued that speciesism was a form of discrimination and it played a vital role in animal slaughter, factory farming and using animals' fur and skin. They have also claimed that speciesism was similar to racism, sexism and other discriminatory practices.
"Speciesism is a misguided belief that one species is more important than another. This toxic mindset is deeply ingrained in our society, and it results in all kinds of negative consequences," according to PETA's website.
Twitter Users Mock PETA
The animal rights' organization's latest post attracted a slew of jokes from Twitter users. Several users claimed PETA was trying to make speciesism a thing, while others accused the group of euthanizing animals in shelters.
On Twitter user wrote: "pretty sure a sloth won't care if I use anti-animal 'slurs.' Even if it did, what is it gonna do, chase after me?"
Another user tweeted: "still hate that peta is insisting there's slurs for animals. that's such a huge slap in the face to various marginalized groups of PEOPLE who have many slurs used against them."
A third Twitter asked: "Wow, it appears PETA is guilty of speciesism. Do we euthanize homeless people? You are treating humans and animals differently. Actions speak louder than words."