PETA is having a bad week on both sides of the pond.
In the US, the organization is seeing backlash after their Super Bowl ad featured animals taking a knee in protest the same way people protested police brutality against POC.
People aren't thrilled about them making light of and/or co-opting a "symbol of black social & political struggle."
In the UK, the organization is asking people to stop using the word "pet" because it's derogatory to animals. There may be some valid points to their opinions, but they certainly didn't come across in a recent interview on Good Morning Britain.
Instead, the PETA spokespeople went toe-to-toe with Piers Morgan and the whole interview ended up going nowhere as he laid into them. Piers is typically known for his conservative, rigid, and often mocking or hateful opinions.
We know that's not what vibe with our readers normally. But Twitter thinks Piers might have a point this time—even if he was being insufferable when making it.
So let's look at the interview.
*It's about 8 minutes long. If you're not in a position to watch it, we will explain later so you won't be too lost.*
Things go sideways right from the intro.
Piers introduces the segment by reminding the viewers that the name of the organization in question is "PETA, spelled P E T ... a." so we already know he's going to make this a sticking point—and oh wow does he ever.
So much so that his co-host even sighs and says:
"Yes, we get the point Piers."
She's so done with him and the interview literally hadn't even started yet.
Good Morning Britain / YouTube Screenshot
Piers and his co-host go on to introduce Jennifer White, who tries to explain PETA's stance. The organization is calling for people to change the language they use when it comes to animals.
Her first point is the use of the words "pet" and "owner." PETA is asking people to use terms like "companion" and "human carer" instead. They feel words like "pet" and "owner" create a mindset of ownership and frame the animal as an inanimate object, not a living being.
Piers points out that PETA has the word "pet" in it - but he's missed the point completely and is being obstinate about it, of course. The organization's name is an acronym standing for "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals." We can argue the accuracy of the name later.
It has the letters p,e and t in it and they're in that order - but it doesn't spell "pet" nor is it referring to them. PETA is pronounced "peet-a", not "pet-a." The organization isn't calling for people to stop putting the letters p,e and t together.
Nobody is asking people to stop saying words like "carPET" or "pupPET" or "PETunia"—just to consider calling the animals in your home "companion" as opposed to "pet." Piers can't let go of the spelling thing—but he also has some serious reservations about telling people what words they can and can't call the animals they care for.
PETA says the term is "derogatory to animals" and that's... well that's just a reach too far for many people.
The interview moves on to PETA's second language-based suggestion, calling for people to stop using turns of phrase that involve animals. If you've said things like 'bringing home the bacon' or 'cat's got your tongue' then PETA would like you to consider other phrases. Confused?
There's even a handy-dandy chart with some alternative suggestions.
PETA has been trying to enact that change (pretty unsuccessfully) since 2018. But it took 'til 2020 for the argument to really reach it's zenith—with a TV show host barking about whether or not anyone asked the ponies.
No, we're not kidding.
Piers starts firing questions at Jennifer at about the 3-minute mark of the interview and then not letting her answer before digging in further. It's obviously flustering for her, but it's a common Piers tactic so she was prepared—or so she thought.
We're going to write this out to the best of our ability, because things were heated at this point and co-hosts, other guests, etc. were all trying to chime in, but we want to focus on Piers and Jennifer.
Because it's epic.
"Let the cat out of the bag" You don't like it because.."
"Cats shouldn't be in bags? You think that literally means a cat is in a bag?"
"It did at one point. Where do you think the language originated from?"
"One trick pony. What's your problem with that?"
Jennifer with an *exasperated laugh*:
"So, ponies aren't -"
Piers *cutting Jennifer off*:
"See you can't even stop laughing because you know how ridiculous this is. Tell me why One Trick Pony is wrong."
"No, it's because I knew you were going to do this. The point is we don't need to go through every phrase, we will be here all day."
"Actually we do because if you want to change the language we've used for centuries I would like to know why."
"Because language is always evolving. We know that. Phrases we would have used fifty years ago we don't use today."
"I get it. What's wrong with one trick pony?"
"Ponies aren't here to do tricks for us, they're their own individual animals."
"Some ponies love doing tricks."
"If we think about how we would want children to perceive animals..."
Piers *totally talking over her*:
"Have you asked them? Have you asked a pony whether they like doing tricks?"
Believe it or not, the interview went down in flames even worse from there, but we will let you experience that joy for yourself.
There's a possibility that PETA has some valid points here. We do know that language changes the way our minds operate.
We know that viewing things as objects makes it easier for us to use and discard them in ways that would be abuse and neglect if done to an animal. We know those "one trick ponies" were often destroyed for not being valuable enough.
But does any of that mean we should change the way we talk? Or is that going too far?
We never really got an answer since the interview went off the rails in a very Piers-y way, but it made for some interesting TV.
Twitter was ENTHRALLED.
Piers Morgan going full on @piersmorgan on the issue of pets and the English language is a joyous thing to witness. #GMB— Ibrahim Banks 🤴🏽🥂 (@Ibrahim Banks 🤴🏽🥂)1580816642.0
You need to stop saying you ‘own’ a dog or that you’re a ‘dog owner’. Why? PETA say we must stop using the word… https://t.co/y1RBsBJ1zA— Ewen Cameron (@Ewen Cameron)1580806325.0
@GMB Enough is enough, this interview was painful to watch. The way @piersmorgan just shouted down and basically bu… https://t.co/x3cIukbEGY— Phil H (@Phil H)1580805768.0
For once, I actually agree with @piersmorgan. Not being allowed to call your pets a pet is absolutely ridiculous 😂😂 #GMB— Chantelle 💕 (@Chantelle 💕)1580805409.0
@ZulfieWulfie @GMB Please stop being stupid. https://t.co/QL0MghxtQk— Aiden (@Aiden)1580817253.0
@GMB Love my dog more than anything, but he’s my ‘pet’. By all means if he starts picking up his own shit or paying… https://t.co/nQqF32ShAz— Cavley (@Cavley)1580806284.0
Interviewee: So I thi- Piers: GO ON! Interviewee: Well as I... Piers: WELL WHAT?! Interviewee: If I can spe- P… https://t.co/iztHVpFt2L— Ben Thompson (@Ben Thompson)1580804593.0
@DnellStephen @JenniferWhite21 I think you are missing the point, it’s not about the names we call our furry friend… https://t.co/7zZlG0JNM8— Gareth Barnett (@Gareth Barnett)1580810169.0
For the record I don’t refer to my dog as a pet. I refer to him as the ‘Good will ambassador from the planet snuggl… https://t.co/d18a6UYpVv— Hoby Penhaligon (@Hoby Penhaligon)1580808940.0
Do you think PETA has a point here? Could you even gain an understanding of their stance with Piers constantly interrupting and talking over the people being interviewed?
Is this all ridiculous? What do you call the animals who share your home if not pets?