THIS editorial appeared in the Chicago Tribune:"An...

Salmagundi

March 12, 1992

THIS editorial appeared in the Chicago Tribune:

"An unfortunate flip side of sensitivity can be the proliferation of euphemisms, some of which cross the line into absurdity -- 'vertically challenged' instead of short, for example. The result is dull, debased expression.

"Still, concern for the feelings of human beings justifies the pulling of some verbal punches. But what about the feelings of non-human beings? What consideration do they deserve?

"Take your companion animal, for instance. The dog or cat you used to call a pet, the little beastie whose self-esteem would suffer if you and it had not broken free of the old-fashioned owner/chattel mode.

"What's this? you ask. The answer: political correctness in the household animal kingdom.

" 'To call an animal with whom you share your life a "pet" is reminiscent of men's magazines, where you have the pet of the month,' says Dr. Michael W. Fox, vice president of the Humane Society of the United States.

"Promoters of the new terms want to improve pet owners. If the owners regard animals as something other than pieces of property, this argument goes, they will be less inclined to abandon or abuse them.

"Better treatment of animals is a worthy goal, but its attainment shouldn't require the dropping of a perfectly good three-letter word.

"When it comes to new-animal-speak, he or she who pays the piper calls the tune (or terrier) -- and with whatever words the 'human companion of the non-human companion' chooses."

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