PETA wants Merriam-Webster to redefine "circus"

James callan james.callan at COMCAST.NET
Sun Jun 25 14:27:53 UTC 2006

PETA activists are cracking the whip on Springfield-based Merriam-
Webster, demanding that the definition of “circus” be rewritten to
label the big top as cruel to “captive” animal performers.

The dictionary currently defines a circus as “an arena often covered
by a tent and used for variety shows, usually including feats of
physical skill, wild animal acts, and performances by clowns.”

But People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - known for caging
naked women to protest the wearing of fur and protesting the living
conditions of pet store iguanas - wants a new entry.

The definitions in question, from

Current Webster’s definition:
circus - n. An arena, often enclosed in a tent or building for
performances by acrobats, trained animals, clowns, etc.

PETA’s proposed definition:
circus - n. Historically, a spectacle that relies on captive animals
who are torn from their families and friends in savannahs,
rainforests, or deserts and transported in chains; tiny, barren
cages; or train cars from city to city. They are forced to perform
painful, confusing, unnatural, and frightening tricks under the
constant threat of punishment with whips, bullhooks, or electric
prods. Modern circuses include only willing human performers, such as
acrobats, contortionists, fire-eaters, trapeze artists, trick
cyclists, and clowns.

The American Dialect Society -

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