It has become so commonplace for the University of West Terrier’s annual commencement address to spark controversy that one might view it as a deliberate attempt to invent some kind of tradition.
Whether or not that is the case (and only time will tell), the 2014 commencement address given by Catriona Cairn-Terrier did not disappoint, at least in that sense.
Cairn-Terrier, who is listed among the “distinguished alumni” on UWT’s web site, used her position as Chief Archaeologist at the Institute for the Study of Mammalian Life (ISML) to make a strong statement in favour of higher education for all Animals.
Her opening remarks of congratulations to the graduating class introduced the somewhat unpopular idea that Park Animals might be more vulnerable to the idea of domestication, “if it appeared to them that the lives ahead of them were going to be difficult.”
Cairn-Terrier spoke in hushed tones about domestication, referring to it more than once as “slavery” and “the kind of life that looks appealing but [that] leads to misery and hopelessness and is, above all, wholly unnatural.”
Despite audible gasps from those in attendance, Cairn-Terrier continued in that vein for some time, extolling the virtues of institutional education to the point where some said they felt slighted by her and her interpretation of their lives. A few, who exited the ceremonies early, complained that the speech was not appropriate for the occasion.
“She may have had some good points and she may be onto something, but I didn’t appreciate being painted the way she painted me,” said Annabelle Kanga, whose daughter Juanita was in the 2014 graduating class.
“Of course I wanted to give her [Juanita] more opportunities than I had, but that doesn’t make me lesser or even more vulnerable to domestication. I think she should have kept those ideas to herself today and if she wanted to promote education, she should have just done that,” Kanga said.
Those who were more accepting of the speech said they weren’t surprised or put off by what Cairn-Terrier said.
“After all, June is Enforced Domestication Awareness Month,” said one attendee.