Personification Gone Wild

“Molly the cow had big dreams – and they didn’t involve buns or barbecue sauce.” So begins the nasty, oppressive tale of the mean old carnivorous humans who are hell-bent on suppressing animal rights by eating them. Paula Moore, a PETA research analyst, wrote an OpEd piece published by the StarTribune in the June 6th issue. In this tragic tale, Moore tells of a cow that broke free from a slaughterhouse and ran to freedom provided by an organic farm. Moore, in fact, shows just how ignorant she is about cattle. She personifies the animal and displays her shocking misunderstanding of animal behavior, and buttresses these claims with suppositions that are mystifyingly foolish.

Molly, who is labeled as a cow by the writer (but is actually a heifer), broke free from the slaughterhouse and made a ‘bold dash for freedom’. This ‘bold dash for freedom’ is wrong on so many levels. First, bovines don’t act ‘bold’. That requires present knowledge of a situation. The heifer in question certainly didn’t know what fate was in store for her. Cattle can’t read or understand spoken language so they couldn’t know the danger. They are herd animals that respond positively to herd mentality. Second, a bovine that breaks free is not acting courageously. They are simply choosing an out from the herd. Boldness suggests the animal made a conscious choice that put her in peril. She had no idea she was running from danger into a different danger. She ran from discomfort into disorder. That isn’t boldness; it was a chaotic act without organized, prescient understanding.

Next Ms. Moore speaks of the animal’s salvation by an organic farm on Long Island where she has a ‘boyfriend’. Relaying her profoundly uneducated mind, she explains this boyfriend is a steer named ‘Wesley’. Really. ‘Boyfriend’ is a relational term no bovine would recognize even if they did speak a human tongue. Cattle do not mate. Females breed with the dominant male present in the herd. They don’t ‘couple’ as this urban rube would have you believe. Also, a steer is a castrated male. Molly isn’t gettin’ much lovin’ even if cattle did bond in twosomes. Ms. Moore certainly doesn’t understand even the most basic cattle nomenclature or behavior. She speaks as though the observed animal behavior is the same rational human behavior. She personified it.

Then, she exposes her rubbery argument to further criticism by explaining cattle “are intelligent and curious animals who form social hierarchies”. By her standards, army ants, wasps, and even plants would be included as ‘social’ creatures. There are dominant trees that ‘take over’ an area which would imply a hierarchy. Anything that can be dominant or dominated would suggest a ‘social hierarchy’ of sorts. Once you stretch a meaning out of whack, it comes to mean nothing. She also uses the word ‘who’ to further argue her case of bovines as sentient beings. ‘Who’ implies a certain personality and human quality that animals like cattle do not possess. That isn’t to say they don’t experience pain or pleasure, but not on a level of understand of ‘self’ that humans do.

Ms. Moore continues her flaccid argument with more tales of animals acting in supposedly humanistic ways. She makes chickens into love birds when chickens will happily peck the weakest creature to death and eat their flesh. (Believe the farm boy, it happens). She even strangely creates a place for fish as sentient beings in her world. In her collectivist mind anything that acts in a collective displays a commendable human trait. Therefore, it must be recognized and honored. To her, collectivism is the highest human attribute when actually collectivism is the most base and simplest human trait. If bees do it, and birds do it, it is just a basic part of our natural animal instinct and not a higher thinking skill.

Ms. Moore is simply indicative of the lazy thinking being practiced and encouraged by the collectivist left. If you personify an object, stretch a definition, and create an alternate universe, their thinking is clear. If you objectively categorize, limit definitions to mean something discrete, and operate on this temporal plane of existence, their logic is defeated. Her efforts to cram human imperatives upon animals are silly. Humans communicate and create ethical choices between one another. Animals and human can’t create such a system. Animals behave according to their nature and nurture. Humans have the ability to reflect, discover, decide, and plan for ethical considerations. The human brain has a knack for making these higher functioning choices. We can dream and manipulate the world in ways animals can’t. Because of these abilities, we have developed to skills to foresee problems and communicate those concerns. We can make ethical choices about our behavior. Animals can’t. Ms. Moore’s goofy attempt at making animals into humans is proof of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing.