Re: ANTHRO-L Digest - 25 Oct 1995 to 26 Oct 1995

James Murphy (jmurphy@MAGNUS.ACS.OHIO-STATE.EDU)
Fri, 27 Oct 1995 09:15:20 -0400

> In a message dated 95-10-27 00:12:50 EDT, Matthew Hill wrote:
> >The poor beast seems to have had a most unfortunate upbringing in the
> >home of a psychotherapist...

which prompts the following plea from Marie Papachatzis:

> Please, don't use the term "beast" to refer to chimps. They have much more in
> common with humans than most of us think...

My dictionary says "beast 1a: a living creature: animal as distinguished from
plant 1b: any lower animal as distinguished on the one hand from man."

Most of "us" are well aware of the traits we share with chimpanzees. The
degree of commonality is irrelevant. Humans may be closely related to
chimpanzees (to varying degrees, in my experience) but they remain distinct
genera. The Greek god Pan might take umbrage at being called a beast, poor or
otherwise, but the genus of anthropoid apes named for him (because of their
god-like qualities?) can not.

Please don't ask others to adopt your own peculiar notion of the meaning of a
word. I personally find your attempt to rewrite definitions, however
well-intentioned, misguided and more offensive that Matthew Hill's accepted
usage of the word "beast."

James L. Murphy