Politics & Policy

PETA’s Complaint of ‘Verbal Abuse’ Against Sheep Was Actually Investigated

The victims have still not weighed in.

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 complaint, filed with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in September (an animal-rescue group), has since been dropped — but not before the organization actually investigated it, because apparently it’s possible for people to actually consider this something worth an investigation.

‘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.)

Although Coleman said that the “verbal abuse” allegation was not the only reason the group investigated the station (PETA insisted to ABC that they would not have complained had it been the only issue) he did acknowledge that it was definitely one of them. And this “verbal abuse” issue specifically — as outlandish as it may seem — has still not been dropped.

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.

#related#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.  

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