Being passionate about animal welfare is a noble thing, in my book. Having a caring nature for all of life ~ from the smallest insects to the giant mammals and fish ~ is key to their (and possibly our) survival. Whatever little we can do to help those creatures in need must be a positive step.
However, there is one animal to be more wary of than any other – the human. Specifically, how humans use language to champion their cause. This is especially true when writing about emotive subjects, such as animal cruelty. You may be familiar with persuasive language in adverts to encourage you to buy the product – but did you know it is also used in many other areas? One example is to encourage you to donate to a specific cause.
Without going into too much depth on this matter, read this article about the plight of tigers in Thailand. Now, bear in mind the BBC is known as an unbiased company and they are giving the facts. Reading various words, do you see how it could easily be twisted to make the Buddhists out to be cruel and evil? Buddhists are generally peace-loving people who care greatly for animals. Why would they deliberately harm and kill tiger cubs? It seems to me there is more to this story than meets the eye.
If you took the time to read the article and became immediately incensed, that’s not surprising. Whenever you feel strongly about something, it’s worth finding out all the facts before making any hasty decisions. If one organisation is accusing another of misconduct, read what they say very carefully and see if you are being subtly persuaded to agree with them. Read (just as carefully) what the other party has said to defend themselves.
A simple example from our blog earlier this week is the use of one word – look at the second sentence and the word ‘dragged’. If the word ‘pulled’ or even ‘saved’ had been used, what effect would these alternative words have on the reader?
In essence, try to stay cool when fact-finding and be aware of how words can be used and misused.