Welcome to Angus Take House – a weekly column in which I pit two of the wildest takes the world's great thinkers have rustled up against each other. This is your one-stop shop for the meatiest verdicts and saltiest angles on the world's happenings. Go and grab a napkin – these juicy hot takes are fresh from the griddle.
What’s the story? The existence of everyday phrases that involve animals.
Reasonable Take: Holy mackerel!
Artificial Duh: Excuse me some of my closest friends are mackerels.
This week’s first terrible hot take comes courtesy of animal rights activists PETA, who decided, quite out of nowhere, to denounce “anti-animal phrases” as problematic. By anti-animal phrases they mean idioms that employ animals as metaphors, often in a violent context. “Bringing home the bacon” for example. Hold on, you’re thinking. If I can’t say very useful phrase “bringing home the bacon,” what can I say? Have no fear, PETA thought you might be worried, so they dreamed up a bunch of new phrases to help “remove speciesism” from your daily vocabulary. Behold:
Obviously it’s hit and miss. “Feed two birds with one scone” is rubbish – you kill the birds to finish them off, if you start feeding them scones they’ll both grow in size, develop an attachment, and before you know it those two jobs you needed to complete will be the size of swans and tapping their beaks on your kitchen window. That said, “be the test tube” is actually very inspiring if you ask me. It sounds like the sort of thing the CEO of bio-tech startup shouts at his employees during his big speech at their end of year party, two months before the company are shut-down for illegally harvesting brain tissue. Very motivating! “Take the Flower by the Thorns”, on the other hand, sounds like a Morrissey lyric.
Thing is, this could have all been a vaguely amusing cracker joke, had it not been for their follow up tweet which said: “Just as it became unacceptable to use racist, homophobic, or ableist language, phrases that trivialize cruelty to animals will vanish as more people begin to appreciate animals for who they are and start ‘bringing home the bagels’ instead of the bacon.”
Many felt that PETA had not only trivialised the experiences of minorities – comparing racism to calling someone a “guinea pig”, lads – but that they’d also given a bit fat freebie to any free-speech crusader looking to write off conversations around the violence of language as “PC nonsense”. Not only that, but they also made vegans look stupid. Any stereotypes about veggies not wanting their potatoes cooked in the same oven as the meat are small fry compared to PETA asking people not to say “horsing around” in case it offends a donkey. All in all the stunt managed to discredit and damage about 30 different progressive causes in one fell swoop.
PETA’s reputation for distracting crusades precedes them – you only have to look back as far as Tuesday to find them describing eating eggs as antithetical to feminism. It’s what they do, and we should know better than to rise to it by now, but sadly the damage it does to the animal rights movement is real. Arguably more damage than the phrase “bring home the bacon” which nobody has ever actually said out loud ever. Ever!
What’s the story? President Trump attended George HW Bush’s funeral, sat through the service and then left.
Reasonable Take: That’s funerals for you, I guess!
Mature Cheddar: Who are you and what have you done with Mr Trump? Aha, only kidding Don. Respect.
This week saw the funeral for George HW Bush, the 41st President of the U.S., an event that stirred up a lot of takes across the board. Many people led with, “I hate him for Iraq but now his dad is dead I find George W Bush exceedingly cute”, while others obsessed over Joe Biden appearing to fall asleep during the service. The biggest shout though, went to a clutch of centrist pundits and observers who couldn’t help but notice a certain mister behaving very graciously on the special day. That’s right, the President didn’t screw up.
Leading with the headline “Trump handles Bush's death with abnormal normality”, Politico pointed out that Trump observed “traditional norms of etiquette” at the funeral. Which really translates as: Trump didn’t call any members of the Bush family a “pathetic failure” during the eulogy. It’s a strange sort of praise, in that it’s not really praise, more a gentle pat on the back for not fucking up; confusing a lack of incident for decorum.
This has been a real motif of his presidency. Trump does something that isn’t completely mad and people sagely nod, as though the cloak of responsibility has finally descended from the heavens to rest on his shoulders. Look at how he shook the hand of someone he once called a loser; marvel at how he greeted those schoolchildren without calling them fat – today the President showed the world he was ready to lead. Then within 30 minutes he’s back tweeting illustrations of Alec Baldwin getting run over by a train, or something, and normal service is resumed.
This points to a couple of things. Firstly that the bar is seriously low. If sitting through a funeral is now enough to pass as presidential, the sky’s the limit for Trump. He could probably get away with eating a veteran, as long as he remembers to say thank you before he gets down at the end of his meal. However it also points to an impulse among centrist pundits, who really and truly dislike Trump far more for being uncouth, than they do his policies. In their eyes, what really matters is that Trump learns a lesson about the proper way to behave, and that the great institution of the presidency is upheld as sacred once more. Start a war, deport who you like, just please… do it with dignity!
PRIME CUT: The central joke of this entire column is fucked according to PETA’s standards, so sadly we they have to win this week.