Representatives from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals went undercover to get footage of a sheep farmer using curse words in front of a flock at Boorungie Station in Australia — then used it to file a complaint claiming the behavior constituted abuse.
“The allegation was that bad language was used by an employee on the property in front of the sheep, and that they could have been offended by the use of bad language,” station operator Ken Turner said, according to Australia’s ABC.
‘The allegation was that bad language was used by an employee on the property in front of the sheep, and that they could have been offended . . .’
Even worse: The CEO of the New South Wales branch of the RSPCA, Steve Coleman, said that the reason the complaint was dropped was because they “felt the footage was inadmissible” and so it would just be “one person’s word against another.” (In other words, not because it was totally ridiculous, but because there wasn’t enough evidence.)
In fact, ABC reports that just last week — nearly a year after the original complaint — it was a “topic of some debate” at a Pastoralist’s Association meeting.To Coleman’s credit, he did tell ABC the following: “I don’t know if it matters what language is used. An animal is not going to understand it.” If you replace his “I don’t know if it matters” with “It obviously does not at all matter,” in fact, it seems that this would be the only possible point of view.
But it wasn’t. According to ABC, Nicolah Donovan, president of Lawyers for Animals, said “it is conceivable that verbal abuse of an extreme nature against an animal, whether it be human, sheep or otherwise, could constitute an act of violence,” (Conceivable how?) Lynda Stoner, CEO of a local animal-rights association, said even using the wrong tone of voice could hurt the animals.
“What they will be getting though is the threat inherent in the way that voice is used,” she said.
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.