anthropomorphism: (an-thruh-puh-mawr-fiz-uhm) – The attributing of human characteristics and purposes to inanimate objects, animals, plants, or other natural phenomena, or to God. To describe a rushing river as “angry” is to anthropomorphize it.
I heard a piece on NPR today about Barbaro. Not familiar with this story? Kentucky derby winner severly broke his leg at the Preakness. Generally, they’d put the horse down because infection and, lets be honest – money, can be an overwhelming obstacle to recovery. However, using Barbaro as a stud could fetch $1 million per trick. Good reason to keep him alive. Another good reason… anthropomorphism. The aftermath of the Preakness saw an outpouring of support for Barbaro. Up until now, all of this makes sense. Humans generally love fussy animals – and what little girl didn’t want a pony?
But the piece I just heard on NPR spoke of Barbaro as a “brave champion” that approached his situation with “light-hearted humor” or something ridiculous. There were many other comments on the character of Barbaro that blew me away. Ok – I love animals. I’d just assume smile at a dog than a person. But the horse is neither brave nor approaching it with anything close to what we can associate with. Its an animal – it knows survival and was probably hoping people would stop messing with him so he could get better on his own, even if this wasn’t what is best for him. Why? Because he doesn’t know any better – logic is not an asset Barbaro possessed. NPR – good god, screen your reports.