For Immediate Release:
April 26, 2007
Michael McGraw 757-622-7382
Norfolk, Va. -- This afternoon, PETA dispatched a letter to Norm Goldstein, editor of The Associated Press Stylebook, suggesting that it is time to revise the book’s language guidelines—which currently characterize animals as inanimate objects—and bring the references in line with 21st century attitudes. Specifically, PETA points out that using "it" and "which" instead of the personal pronouns "he," "she," and "who" in reference to animals is inaccurate and outdated—particularly in a society that is increasingly recognizing that animals have inherent rights, legal standing, and individuality.
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PETA’s letter to Norm Goldstein follows.
April 26, 2007
Norm Goldstein, Editor
The Associated Press
450 W. 33rd St.
New York, NY 10001
Dear Mr. Goldstein:
On behalf of PETA’s more than 1.6 million members and supporters worldwide, I am writing to request that you revise The Associated Press Stylebook so that its grammatical rules reflect the fact that animals are living beings rather than inanimate objects. In magazine articles, popular literature, and advertising, writers are using "he," "she," and "who" to refer to animals—instead of the outdated and inaccurate "it" and "which." Won’t you consider making this transition as well?
As "the essential global news network," the Associated Press (AP) should take a progressive step and give animals the respect that they deserve by revising AP style guidelines to reflect the usage of personal pronouns for all animals.
While the world accelerates through the 21st century, progressive ideas are challenging and changing conventional perspectives. Recently, the American legal system recognized that nonhuman animals deserve legal status beyond that of mere "property" and that abusive treatment of animals is more than simple vandalism.
The public now recognizes that whales, who sing across oceans; great apes, who share more than 98 percent of our DNA; sheep, who can recognize as many as 50 faces after not having seen them for two years; and pigs and chickens, who can learn to operate switches in order to control heat and light in factory-farm sheds, are feeling, intelligent individuals—not objects. Our language should reflect this.
I would greatly appreciate hearing your decision on this matter. Enclosed are PETA’s Writing Style and Guidelines, which explain how to avoid language that portrays animals in a negative light.
Thank you very much for your time.
Director of Written Communications