Why I’m Pissed at Alec Baldwin
Now, I don’t have children, but I did take care of my one-year old goddaughter for over a week last year in my spectacularly child-unfriendly house, and I now understand the frustration that precedes child abuse. And I grew up with a parent who had a rage problem and would say all kinds of unreasonable things when angry (Hi Mom! Can’t wait to see you in two weeks!). So I can somewhat understand how Alec Baldwin could reach the point where he might leave an unsavory phone message for his daughter. I’m sure parents do that all the time. But they’re not Alec Baldwin, in the middle of a nasty custody battle.
Clearly, Baldwin didn’t learn what I learned–the hard way–in high school. Never, ever leave a phone message or a written message that includes anything that makes you look like an idiot or like you have difficulty processing your anger appropriately. But what’s done is done.
Why on earth am I pissed at Alec Baldwin, considering his business is none of mine? Because somewhere in his 2+ minute rant, he called his daughter a "rude thoughtless pig." "Pig" is the only word I care about.
- Pigs are probably the most maligned, misunderstood sentient beings. When you call someone a "pig," you’re obviously attempting to insult and hurt them. (Note how "rude thoughtless llama" just doesn’t have the same feel to it.)
- "Pig" is an insult because we have decided it is because we have decided to malign pigs. We are able to insult by saying "pig" because we have culturally-assigned "dirty, insatiable, obnoxious, snorty beast" to pigs.
- Alec Baldwin is a vegetarian (maybe a vegan), and as such part of his job (and my job as a vegan) is to change cultural attitudes toward animals. They’re not here to be used as food for us. Or entertainment, or clothes, or sport.
- When you convince people that someone or some country is bad, it’s easier to condone violence, or at least mistreatment. Therefore, perpetuatung the myths about pigs through language doesn’t help their cause. If they’re so filthy and obnoxious, maybe it’s not so terrible to torture, slaughter and eat them. (Although I find it interesting that people who think an animal is filthy would then want to eat him.)
- This story, unfortunately, is all over the "Internets," and "the Googles" list the dozens of legitimate news organizations devoting time and space to it, as well as the oodles of bloggers trying to decide if we should judge Baldwin or not, and if so how harshly. There are comparisons to Don Imus’ recent situation, as well as reprimands of the media and Baldwin’s ex-wife, Kim Basinger.
I am concerned only with language, here, and if you’re presenting yourself to the world as someone who is shifting America’s paradigm with regard to animals, you must not use the language that sets them up to be subjugated and abused. Unfortunately, we’ve got a long way to go in our paradigm shifting. One of the comments on Stacy Parker Aab’s Huffington Post blog is: Sorry my friend but you do not talk to a child that way under any circumstances. Actually I wouldn’t talk to a dog that way.