Australia isn't Real

It's a very interesting experience to be told you're wrong about something that's in all ways just provably a fact. Or, similarly, to have someone tell you a statement that's presented as fact that's easily proven to be untrue. For instance, let's say I said something along the lines of:
"Australia isn't real"
If someone presented you this opinion as fact out of nowhere, you'd probably be pretty taken aback. Especially if you yourself live in Australia. This is something I think everyone's experienced at least once in their lives, if you haven't you live amongst very reasonable people and probably don't have a social media account. It's always something that I've found personally very annoying.
But it's on a different scale now that I'm a zoo. And not just about the things that you would expect.
There are obviously many people who would call into question the validity of animal consent, or more high level concepts like the relationship between a zoo in a relationship vs a pet owner. I very much expected pushback against those kinds of ideas. Those are, after all, the building blocks that really hold up any kind of "reasonable" anti-zoo rhetoric. But no, conversations like that are rare. And what I'm talking about here isn't even arguments. It's statements that are just immediately wrong in multiple baffling ways. Here's an example you might be familiar with: 
"Bestiality leads to STIs"
This is of course, not true. There are infections that can pass between humans and animals, but the vast vast majority of them are spread to us through the process of factory farming, or even just proximity. But, even moving past the spirit of what they're saying, the actual words are factually wrong. For an infection to spread between two people, one of them needs to already have it. You and your friend could spend the next year straight having sex with each other but as long as neither of you have syphilis to start with, there's a 0% chance that one of you is going to end up with it by the end. Bestiality does not create new infections, it's just one method that it can theoretically be transferred. To say that bestiality leads to STIs is just a blatant misunderstanding of the facts. Which is frustrating, because none of this is new science, or controversial in any way. Everything I said has been known for the last hundred years. Look at the Wikipedia page on Zoonoses (diseases transferred between animals and humans) which, actually has 100 sources on the nose, and see how many times they mention bestiality (it offhandedly says the word "sexual" a single time in one example almost all of the way down the page and doesn't even go into any detail, after having given hundreds of examples of more common ways that diseases spread, because getting a zoonotic disease from sexual contact is basically like getting struck by lightning out of the clear blue sky and not really worth spending much thought on). But none of that matters to the person trying to utilize that statement as a weapon. It's not about facts, it's just about saying something that they think is a "Gotcha." But even past that, there's a bigger issue I want to tackle here. Let me use another very common example.
"Zoophilia is illegal!" 
This is of course, not true in the slightest. Zoophilia is an attraction, a feeling. As far as I'm aware, we aren't currently punishing people for thought crimes. Zoophilia is as illegal as a fantasy. "Zoophilia" and "imagining if you were famous" are both equally illegal: they both contain zero illegality. And that's obvious. This isn't a complicated concept. But, let's be fair to the person who's saying that zoophilia is illegal. What they probably meant to say was that bestiality is illegal. Which is true in a lot of places! But that's not the word that they said. And maybe it's just my bias as a writer, but I feel like it's important to use the words that mean the things that you're trying to say.
Or here's another one that's really melted my brain:
"Bestiality" vs "Beastiality"
One of those is a loving action you and an animal do to get your collective rocks off, the other is not a word.
If I type "beastiality" into the Word document that I'm currently writing this article on, a red squiggly line appears underneath it, showing that I've made an error. Is says "Did you mean "bestiality"?" And yet, when I point out this very simple fact to people, more often than not, they disagree. It's something you can google with 5 seconds, and learn about how the word is derived from the Latin "bestia" which was later anglicized into "beast." You can see tons and tons of sources telling you that bestiality is the right way it's spelled. But that's too much work for them to look up. 
There's two reasons that all of this bothers me so much, but I'll start with the one that I think is funnier. To a lot of people, we're demons. Monsters. And as such, to agree with literally anything we say, they're supporting evil. Even if it's something as simple as the spelling of a word. It's not something that they do consciously, at least not for most people. Our brains are wired to be more predisposed to say "no" to people that we don't like, regardless of what we're actually saying it to. "Yes" is acceptance, agreement. It's positive, and can lead to mutual understanding. "No" is cold. Harsh. It's the ending of things, and a disavowment of opinions. To accept that it's spelled "bestality" is not only having to admit that you were wrong, but also that a zoophile was right. And while I absolutely understand that it's a natural thing, at the same time I personally believe that we have to be better than that. Maybe it's just me, but I believe in the idea that sometime in the future we're going to live in a world where there's real peace, there's no border, and where, for the most part, everyone gets along. We're not going to get there with "no" to basic facts just because we don't like the person who said them. Frankly, we wouldn't be anywhere close to where we are today if we lived our lives scared to even admit when we're wrong. 
There's something more important here though, in my opinion. Something more personal. Something that's going to take us back down under. It's one thing to say that Australia doesn't exist as an American in America talking to another American. They might call you a dumbass, but if they haven't been to Australia either it's not like they really have any more context than you do. It's another thing entirely to go to r/Australia on Reddit and start yelling about how they're all actors. Or to go to an Australian website and send them an angry letter about propagating the conspiracy. And even past that, imagine meeting with a stranger that just happens to have an Australian flag on their car, or speak with an Australian accent, storming up to them, and screaming about how "Australia isn't valid!" or how "Being Australian isn't even real!" But, say this gracious Aussie takes the time to literally pull out photos of them in Australia, taking shots with kangaroos and dingos and the cast of hit TV show Bluey, and still you say "Australia isn't real!"
This is obviously psychopathic behavior on its own. But imagine that in that confrontation you keep spelling it "Awstralia" and mixing up their flag with the UK flag, and pointing to Greenland on a map every time they're talking about the good 'ol Aus. 
I am Australian (in the metaphor (or maybe in real life too who knows)), I live in Australia. Being Australian is part of my life. It's something I don't just think about from time to time, it's something I am. And so when people question me on who I am, and they can't even manage to get the basics down, it feels so frustratingly disingenuous. Clearly if you don't know the difference between "beastiality" and "bestiality" or god forbid just understanding what "zoophilia" even is, you don't have the right to criticize something I've spent decades of my life living. 
If you want to talk about zoophilia being wrong, or about how animals can't consent, or whatever your heart believes in, that's fine. But just fucking learn to spell first. 
Article written by Tarro (April 2024)
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