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Pythonesque RSPCA embraces trans language

Pythonesque RSPCA embraces trans language

by Ann Farmer | August 02, 2018

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The cast of Monty Python's Flying Circus

A British woman "got the 'fright of her life' when she woke up to discover a 3ft-long snake curled up in her bed," reports The Telegraph. the royal python was believed to be an escaped pet which had "snuggled up next to her in the night as she slept." The unnamed woman rushed out of her bedroom, thinking she had trapped the animal, and phoned the RSPCA, who "were not immediately able to local the African python," which "was only discovered the next day as it made its way down the hallway."

All this is scary enough, but the report from RSPCA animal collection officer Jill Sanders, who eventually snared the python, was even scarier, going from fact (“‘Reptiles, particularly snakes, can be extremely good escape artists and will take the opportunity of a gap in an enclosure door, or a loose-fitting lid’”) to fiction in the very next sentence. She insisted on referring to the individual in question in the plural: ‘“The poor resident must have had the fright of their life waking up to a snake in their bed. They jumped out of bed and closed their bedroom door to contain the snake”’; she added that as she could not find the snake, ‘“I left my details and told them to contact me as soon as they saw it again.”’

As the individual in question was an individual, it is a mystery as to why Ms Sanders constantly referred to her in the plural, unless someone else – obviously not the snake - was present.

One suspects that like so many other public bodies, the RSPCA has fallen victim to an "equality" agenda under which some are more equal than others, and the supposed sensitivities of this new aristocracy – as determined by their self-appointed social justice warrior representatives - must be soothed by employing language at variance with verifiable reality.

But if such vital details as the number of individuals involved in a news story cannot be reported, what happens if the subject is a trans person who has escaped from police custody? Will the public be allowed to know "their" personal details, or will this be considered an insult to trans persons everywhere? If "their" sex cannot be disclosed because "they themselves" do not know what it is, it will set a precedent for omitting the vital details of other protected categories, in case reporting their age, racial background and even height might be considered ageist, racist and heightist. And such a news embargo would be positively dangerous if it were extended to suspected terrorists.

As this story shows, snakes can be slippery customers, and our language is becoming as slippery as a snake. If we are no longer allowed to describe reality except in unreal ways, we might as well be living in a lunatic asylum or, as is more likely, as trained animals in a gigantic open-air zoo. Indeed, even expressing such views might prompt some animal rights activist, as self-appointed champion of snakes, to object to them as evidence of snakeophobia.

Speaking from personal experience of an escaped snake, using the correct pronoun was not uppermost in my mind; however, being confronted by a loose snake is slightly less scary than the prospect of receiving a visit by the pronoun police. A more Pythonesque scenario would be hard to imagine.

Ann Farmer lives in the UK. She is the author of By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Campaign (CUAP, 2008); The Language of Life: Christians Facing the Abortion Challenge (St Pauls, 1995), and Prophets & Priests: the Hidden Face of the Birth Control Movement (St Austin Press, 2002).

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