Society Diary: Peta has a problem with some of your idioms

07 Dec 2018 Voices

Horses are more than capable of feeding themselves, Peta!

Happy Friday dear readers, if indeed any Friday this wet and dreary can ever truly be called ‘happy’. Combined with the news that Dani Dyer and Jack Fincham, winners of this year’s Love Island and beacon of hope and love in an otherwise dystopian, nightmarish world have split up and, yeah, it’s not really such a happy Friday at all. So much for true love, eh? So much for hope. 

This week in charity sector satire: Animal rights organisation Peta has suggested a few minor tweaks to well-known English idioms to make them less, *checks notes* “anti-animal”, and a Christian charity worker has been hammered by the Daily Mail for making children hammer their “idolatrous” chocolate Santas… that’s not a sentence Diary gets to write every day. 

Let’s be having it. 

An obese horse and two dead birds 

Ah, Peta. Diary’s always had a real soft spot for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; mostly because, while its heart is certainly in the right place, Peta has a real knack for upsetting people and, just generally, making itself look a bit silly. 

Who can forget the time Peta dragged a British wildlife photographer through years of court hearings because they believed an Indonesian crested black macaque deserved all profits and proceeds from a selfie it argued it had deliberately taken of itself?

Yes, they may have basically destroyed one photographer’s life and livelihood, but it did give Diary an excuse to write an exhaustively long piece, chock-full of monkey puns, back in 2017. 

Or there was also the time they did this. And this. Oh, and this.  

Long story short, Peta are great fodder for Diary and, like the first blessed rays of spring sunshine after a long, cold winter; that fine and noble institution has once again hand-wrapped and delivered this column the greatest gift of all: humourous content. More or less just in time for Christmas too. How thoughtful. 

Yes, for reasons best known to itself, Peta took to its social media channels this week, punting out a list of “anti-animal language” contained in well-known idioms, alongside suggestions for making said sayings less speciest*. They are, needless to say, absolutely bonkers and wonderful. 

“Words matter,” said Peta sternly, if not entirely humorlessly. “As our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves with it.”

Drawing a fairly long bow there between the diminishing use of language harmful to minority groups in everyday life there, Peta, but fair play for trying. 

In defence of Peta, “bringing home the bagels” as opposed to "bringing home the bacon" is, unobjectionably, good and Diary won’t hear a word against it. Extra props to Peta for putting that into its Twitter account bio – Peta, bringing home the bagels since 1980. 

However, some of the other ones could probably do with some work. Now, Diary’s no ornithologist, but it’s pretty sure that if you fed two birds one scone – with jam and cream – then both of those birds would almost certainly die. To paraphrase that old Oreos advert: “Mum says that a scone isn’t good for two birds… and no, they shouldn’t drink milk either”. 

Also, Peta, flowers are technically living things too and, by extension, it seems a bit anti-Botanist to suggest that grabbing a poor defenceless flower by its thorns is somehow better than taking a bull by its horns. At least the bull can defend itself. 

While we're going through it, isn’t the actual saying to "flog a dead horse"?

Diary’s also pretty sure that overfeeding horses isn’t good for them and every horse this column has ever had the misfortune of meeting was venial, greedy and utterly bereft of any self-control when it came to the consumption of hay. 

Never change though Peta. Please, never, ever, change. 

If Society Diary had had more time, it would have tried to mock up a similar table for charity sayings. But it didn’t, so it couldn’t. Please send suggestions below the line. 

*See speciesism – a form of discrimination based on species membership… apparently. 

Deck the halls

Yes, Christmas is fewer than 20 sleeps away and, up and down the country, young children are becoming more and more excited at the prospect of a midnight visitation from Father Christmas himself; his heaving sack laden with presents, distributing joy to all the good little boys and girls… wow, when one actually thinks about it, the whole Father Christmas thing really is a bit creepy. 

Anyway, in what may come as a boon news story for all you Grinches and Scrooges out there, we travel to Lincolnshire now, and the Daily Mail story which begins: “Children left in tears after being told 'Father Christmas isn't real' by Christian charity worker who made them smash up chocolate Santas to 'hammer home the point'”.

Oh, this story had Diary at “children left in tears”. Let’s press on: “Children as young as four were reportedly left in tears after being told Santa was “made up” during a Christian assembly.

“Pupils were then asked to smash up chocolate versions of St Nicholas and his reindeer to hammer home the point.

“Parents said their children had come home feeling devastated following the sermon by a children's worker from a Christian charity.”

Diary wants to distil this story down to its very essence and carry it around in a little flask, occasionally sipping from it when the winter wind begins to bite. 

According to the Daily Mail, the “children's worker” was a woman from the Mary Bass Charity, which lists its charitable objectives as furthering “the religious and other charitable work of the Church of England”. That's certainly one way of going about it - mentally scaring children for life with fire and brimstone oratory and physically destroying chocolate statues of a kind, bearded, old man. 

The charity has reportedly said it is investigating the matter, and that the woman – who was speaking at Fleet Wood Lane School in Spalding, Lincolnshire, was merely trying to explain to children that Jesus was the reason behind Christmas, not Santa or his reindeers. 

Truly, tis the season for magic, and wonder. 


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