To Whom it May Concern:
My name is Sunflower Smith and I am the communications liaison for PETA-People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
I’m writing you today (on this 105-percent fair trade paper with an animal-free pencil I carved from repurposed oak that passed from natural causes) to express our collective opinion—no, our stance—that several common clichés be banned from the English language.
Why? Because of the cruelty towards animals that they reflect.
Language is a very powerful tool, and by suggesting that one “beats a dead horse” or that it’s “cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey,” people are reinforcing barbaric behavior.
We have a comprehensive list we would like to submit. For example, “The early bird gets the worm.” Yes, the bird gets fresh food, but what no one talks about is what happens to the early worm. Death! That’s what happens to the worm!
I’ll shoot you that list via email next week.
But today I would like to use cats as our most pressing concern. Not only are they often mentioned being “on a hot tin roof”—disturbing for both the fact that they are roaming outdoors and that they’re being forced to endure harsh conditions—but they are also said to have “nine lives,” which we all know just isn’t the case.
However, the repetition of that phrase has led people to place felines in the linguistic lagoon of doom through a reinforced order of cliché operations, working under the assumption that they will survive.
Example A: “No room to swing a cat.” Why can’t you say, “No room to swing a toddler?” They like swinging much more than cats. Or just say that there’s not that much room? Exactly. Laziness.
Example B: “Let the cat out of the bag.” Why is the cat placed in a bag? Are there air holes? Death!
Example C: “Cat got your tongue?” Although we admire the tenacity of the cat in fighting back, we disagree with the notion that cats are violent creatures that seek physical revenge. They most likely would just choose to ignore you.
Example D: “More than one way to skin a cat.” I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Instead I’m choosing to use the phrase, “There is more than one way to brush a cat,” as you can do it the traditional way or you can directly apply the lint roller and cut out the middleman. No death! No hair! Win-win!
Example E: “Curiosity killed the cat.” So being inquisitive is a negative thing that should carry a warning of death? Without curiosity, we wouldn’t have new ideas or covers for electrical sockets! We prefer the phrase, “Curiosity enlightened the cat.”
You know what killed it? Putting it in a bag or swinging it around! (See above.)
So as you can see, these are just a few of our feline examples. Next we will have to address things like, “Killing two birds with one stone.” First of all, when in history was there an overabundance of birds and a shortage of stones? Second, death!
This is obviously a very pressing matter that requires your attention as soon as possible. Together we can reprogram the collective public belief that cruelty towards animals is okay when used to try and express a vapid human sentiment.
In other words, we can “teach an old dog new tricks.”*
Thank you for your time,
*We approve of this phase because it reflects our belief that canines exhibit the intellectual power to learn additional skills at an advanced age. While humans might not be as smart, we hope to at least shape the young minds of the future.
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