I wouldn’t blame any of my valued customers if they failed to notice that May 8th was World Donkey Day. Thank you to those who sent me flying kisses on this auspicious occasion, and texted hee-haw emojis.
Keeping in step with these wokish times, it is incumbent on yours truly to draw attention to the plethora of speciesist adjectives and terminology that riddle the English language. Technological advances, especially after the industrial revolution, have given human beings an inflated opinion of themselves. Us animules are treated like sub-humans and often referred to in a derogatory manner.
As a donkey, I personally have been at the receiving end of slurs that paint us as a bunch of lazy asses sitting on our butts all day, rolling in the dirt, or chewing the cud. So I know what a snail feels like when it is stereotyped as being sluggish even though he is locomoting as fast as he can go.
Animal feelings can be hurt when humans pigeonhole them without first seeking permission from pigeons. Ugly ducklings get an inferiority complex whenever there is gratuitous reference to their physical appearance, and loons can develop mental issues from negative stereotyping.
Swans I know do not take it as a compliment when people refer only to their looks and describe them as being ‘graceful’. Especially when there is a racist reference to unexpected events as being ‘black swans’. And why should birds of a feather flock together? Why can’t they be treated as individuals with their own dreams and aspirations of being great one day?
Moving right along to the genus Canis lupus, pooches (despite being man’s best friend) do get a lot of opprobrium in the dog-eat-dog world of Nepali politics. K P Oil (dam autocorrect) once said in a speech to supporters, “I have not been bitten by a mad dog to trust Nepal.”
Why do politicians think that their mental stability is only the responsibility of a mutt? Besides, haven’t they figured out yet that it is news only if man bites dog?
There is also a lot of gender bias in English. Why is ‘bitch’ an unacceptable swear word, whereas calling a well-loved uncle an “old dog” is perfectly acceptable, and he thinks it is high praise?
At a seminar on regional geopolitics in Kathmandu you often hear participants speak in hushed tones about the “elephant in the room”. Some may even swivel their heads to see if there is a tusker trumpeting its way down the corridors of power, only to realise that the speaker was referring to a global superpower that has just invaded a smaller neighbouring country.
We have to be careful not to offend ostriches when we compare them to party leaders with their heads stuck up their asses. Snakes could take umbrage at being mentioned in the same breath as some contractors, and pigs do not want to be put in the same league for avarice as some coalition ministers.
My own gripe is at something credible being described as coming from a horse’s mouth, but never from a donkey’s orifice.