I took a step towards insanity today.
First I read this article by Tim Blair, which was harmless:
Be polite to sheep – or face investigation:
A case of alleged animal abuse in the far west of New South Wales has led to debate about whether sheep can comprehend human speech …
It was alleged sheep were abused verbally during shearing.
Brilliant response from the farmer whose station was accused of the sheep rudeness:
For Ken Turner, who operates Boorungie Station, the obvious answer to the quandary was to ask the sheep themselves to corroborate the evidence.
Then I clicked on one of the links which took me here, and that is where the madness really took hold:
A case of alleged animal abuse in the far west of New South Wales has led to debate about whether sheep can comprehend human speech.
It began in September last year, when the New South Wales branch of the RSPCA received a tip-off about the alleged mistreatment of sheep, including verbal abuse, that were being shorn at Boorungie Station, 130 kilometres from Broken Hill.
The complaint was lodged by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which had apparently obtained footage and testimony from an undercover operative working at the station.
For Ken Turner, who operates Boorungie Station, the complaint itself suggests the sheep could at least understand English.
“The basis for the concerns was the rights of the animals, that they might have been harassed by viewing things they shouldn’t have seen or verbal abuse by people using bad language,” he said.
“To my knowledge, there was no actual cruelty on the job.
“The allegation was that bad language was used by an employee on the property in front of the sheep, and that they could have been offended by the use of bad language.”
Steve Coleman, CEO of NSW RSPCA, said the war over the words began when it was decided, for reasons that remain unclear, that the video footage was not legally usable.
“We felt the footage was inadmissible and therefore we relied on what oral evidence came from both parties,” he said.
“It was conflicting, and on that basis we were unable to continue.
“The evidence that was available basically came down to one person’s word against another.”
While Mr Coleman did not deny that verbal abuse was a factor, he insisted the complaint contained more concerning issues than just bad language.
“Certainly there were other concerns well beyond yelling at sheep,” he said.
While describing claims about verbal abuse of animals as “rare”, Mr Coleman said the RSPCA took such allegations seriously.
“If there is an allegation that puts at risk an animal that would cause it unnecessary suffering and distress, we would investigate it,” he said.
“I don’t know if it matters what language is used. An animal is not going to understand it.”
But Nicolah Donovan, president of Lawyers for Animals, said animals did understand.
“I think it is conceivable that verbal abuse of an extreme nature against an animal, whether it be human, sheep or otherwise, could constitute an act of violence,” she said.
“We have accepted that domestic violence can certainly be constituted by acts of extreme verbal abuse, particularly when the victim of the abuse is especially vulnerable – if they have a low fear threshold or they lack understanding that the verbal abuse isn’t going to proceed to a physical threat against them.
“This might be the case with children or farm animals, and the level of abuse needn’t be that extreme to cause that kind of fear in an animal.”
Click on the link to read the full article if you dare.
Any article quoting any member of PETA or Animal Liberation or, good grief, Lawyers For Animals should come with a trigger warning for extreme stupidity.
Get a grip people. Animals are not humans. They cannot understand human speech. They do not have a sense of morality. Do not equate children and farm animals that is just insulting.