A farmer, criticized for allowing sheep-shearers to swear at his animals, joked that the animals have never complained about salty language.
Ken Turner, of New South Wales in Australia, was reported to animal welfare group RSPCA after workers reported that the behavior distressed the herd, reports the Newcastle Herald. A complaint was lodged by PETA, to whom workers had sent undercover footage of abuse they say was physical as well as verbal, "including stomping and punching of the sheep."
"If foul language were the worst that sheep in Australian shearing sheds had to endure, then no complaint would have been filed," a spokeswoman told the newspaper.
But the case was dropped, leaving Turner to tour the press making light of the allegations: "they didn’t even look offended to me after they were shorn," he told a radio host last week.
The Australian Associated Press (widely syndicated to outlets such as The Telegraph and The Daily Mail) left the physical abuse details to the very end of its report. London's Metro tabloid completely removes them, describing the allegations exclusively as "bizarre" complaint about language. The Times wrote that the report had "provoked a debate about whether verbal abuse of animals constitutes an act of violence"—but also managed to avoid detailing the fact that violence was also alleged. The footage was deemed inadmissible in court, according to the AAP.