The Royal Veterinary College Principal, Stuart Reid has become embroiled in a row over its students' annual charity calendar, after a veterinary vegan group complained about the month that showed veterinary students handling sheep.

The photograph showed seven naked male student vets holding sheep 'tipped' in front of them so as to hide the students' spare parts.

That anyone should complain about sheep being tipped, a technique which the British Cattle Veterinary Association describes as: "widely recognised as being safe and pain-free for the animals" defies logic. But so they did, and according to The Times, it led to personal attacks, harassment and threats against the students who'd made the calendar.

Worse still was the fact that according to various newspaper reports, the complaint originally came from the Veterinary Vegan Network (VVN), a group of qualified and trainee veterinary surgeons and nurses, who reportedly posted on their Facebook page that the photo was 'deeply disturbing'

Oh come on. 'Deeply disturbing?' Really? I'd argue that any vet who finds that photo 'deeply disturbing' should be asking themselves whether they're in the right job. 

There cannot be a veterinary surgeon or nurse in the country who is not aware of the high suicide rate in the profession, or the problems it is facing with retention, so if the complaint did trigger a backlash against the students involved, the VVN should hang its head in shame and apologise to them immediately. Profusely. As the BCVA said in its statement, the vitriol aimed at the students is "both grossly unfair, unfounded and should be condemned."

The RVC's response was predictably politically-correct: Stuart Reid wrote an open letter apologising to those who'd taken offence. But it was pitched very badly. It was long on apology, long on hand-wringing and long on appeasement. It was jaw-droppingly short of an outright condemnation of those who'd harassed his students. Indeed, according to The Times report, an unnamed vet said the college had "thrown its students under a bus."

We live in an increasingly homogenised, politically-correct world in which people complain at the first opportunity and take offence at anything and everything. Our institutions then seem to fall over themselves in the rush to apologise to the perpetually offended Facebook fruitcakes. We all need to fight this. Stuart Reid, ewe need to grow a pair. 

To the students involved in the calendar: well done for making the world a slightly less grey place, and remember that for every one fruitcake, there are a thousand more who support your charitable efforts.

No sheep were hurt in the writing of this article.


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