Of Journalists and Pigs
I’ve decided I have a new goal in life: I want to change the way journalists cover stories about animals. This morning, in Woman Helps Rescue Pig on Interstate, we learn that a 500-lb. pig fell out of the back of a tractor-trailer rig in Vancouver, Washington, and a woman stayed with the pig (referred to as "it") until a man who works with livestock arrived to take the pig to safety until its owners could be located.
At which point, I’m sure, the pig was hauled onto another tractor trailer and was transported either to slaughter, or to get even more fattened (and then slaughtered).
Here’s my beef (pork?):
- We have got to stop using the language of inanimate objects for sentient beings. If a schoolchild fell off a bus on the Interstate, and due to the child’s coat and hat we weren’t sure about the gender of the child, would we refer to the child as "it"? No. We’d say he or she or they or something, but we wouldn’t say "it."
- Did the woman really help rescue the pig? Rescuing the pig would have involved taking her someplace safe, to some kind of sanctuary where she could live out her life without the probability that she’d become George Clooney’s next meal. As far as I’m concerned, the pig nearly escaped, and the "rescuer" put the kibosh on the escape, and now the pig is definitely doomed.
If that story weren’t bad enough, there’s the one, again this morning, called Man Fined for Tossing Pig at Hotel, wherein we learn that in Mississippi there is some kind of inside joke among rednecks that involves tossing an animal at a place of business in the wee hours of the morning. In the reporter’s defense, we are told that "No one was hurt, including the pig."
However, if I were a reporter, I’d want to know:
- How did the redneck get the pig, and where is she now?
- Why is the only charge "disturbing the peace?" Is there some kind of message we can send to other rednecks about the gravely inappropriate nature of animal tossing?
Both of these stories communicate that the animals are the objects of the story (the people-The Man and The Woman-are the subjects). Until journalists consider the animals subjects, as well, and follow them to the end of the story they’re covering, they haven’t completed their jobs.