A while ago, I discussed how dogs have evolved to live with humans: being around humans is part of their environment, and they have undergone specific adaptations to live in that–our–environment. At this point, their ‘natural’ environment should contain people. Which brings me to this funny comment by Amanda Marcotte in response to the
language police editors of the Journal of Animal Ethics (boldface mine):
…this is the stupidest shit I’ve ever read. Also, self-contradictory—you can’t say “animal”, but you can say “companion animal”? As I joked on Twitter, I’m all for retiring the word “pet” and have done so in my house to refer to my cats. Instead, I refer to them as “shitbags”, “assholes”, “dumbasses”, and “turd-filled money holes”. That is a new one, invented after discovering this week that Molly’s mouth problems will set me back the sort of money that made my knees buckle a little when I saw the bill.
That’s why I was also particularly incensed to see this shit and the inevitable holier-than-thou leftist preening in Feministe’s comment thread of people trying to be all radical by denouncing the concept of owning pets. The supposed ethicists here denounce an “anthropocentric bias”, but I can’t think of anything more anthropocentric than conflating human desires and abilities with those of domesticated animals. Let me put it this way: When I have a tooth that’s rotting in my head and is really painful, I can pick myself up, go to the dentist, and will myself to sit in the chair so they can extract it. Because I have foresight and know that I will feel better. My cat, if she had her druthers, would never go into the vet’s office again, which is why I have to deprive her of her freedom in order to get her tooth extracted. Her inability to think this through is not her fault. She is really stupid compared to me. She is afraid to sit on the balcony because she doesn’t believe the evidence before her that it can hold the weight of beings much larger than her. Our relationship is fine the way it is. If anything, she’s the one getting the benefit out of it, because she can’t make money to pay her own dental bills. The problem with oppressing people in this way is that, unlike cats, they have functioning frontal lobes and you are depriving them of activities they have the brainspace to accomplish. Big difference.