Dehumanisation is the process of depriving a person or group of positive human qualities. Dehumanising always starts with language that degrades humans to animals, vermin or various objects.
For centuries dehumanisation has been used as a technique for creating false excuses and justifications for immoral behaviour, violence and abuse. You’ll see dehumanisation at work in most large-scale atrocities or genocides committed by governments, armies, or terrorists. The main purpose is to get people to accept or even engage in behaviors that they know are wrong. Once we see people on “the other side” as morally inferior and less human, the conflict starts being framed as good versus evil…
Dehumanisation is not limited to political issues, however. Any time someone reduces a human being to a single characteristic, especially a negative one, they are dehumanising. “Alcoholic,” “addict,” “diabetic,” “schizophrenic”, ‘”cow”, “pig”, “sausage” all rob people of the full complexity of their lives and reduce them to a symptom, disorder, animal or body part.
When we engage in dehumanising rhetoric, sharing dehumanising jokes or promoting dehumanising images, we are promoting disrespect and cruelty against those groups of people. When we reduce other people to animals, men to sausages and women to cows, it tells a lot about our own integrity, values and attitude to other people. Why caring about others, respecting their feelings and treating them well if they are just cows with boobs and pigs with sausages?
- Image 1 from someecards
- Images 2 and 3 from Wikipedia
- Image 4 from https://drawception.com/game/2LPbS7y4nx/cow-ninja-vs-pig-pirate/