Tag Archives: pigs

One pig flu over the cuckoo’s nest

We are officially now in the grip of a new panic. Quite how justified all this screaming and shouting about swine influenza is remains to be seen, but there is certainly a lot of secondary nonsense starting to form.

My favourite thus far is the Israel government’s insistence that it should be renamed “Mexican flu” on the basis that pigs are not kosher. Are we to infer from that that eating Mexicans is Okay?

I’ve written about this strange mutation of Jewish (and Islamic) dietary law into a perverted list of “animals which must not be mentioned” before. A couple of years ago there was the bizarre attempt to replace the Three Little Pigs with dogs in a school play (the council apparently “stepped in” and insisted the heroes were porcine). My favourite remains the finger wagging Labour got in 2005 for portraying Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin as “flying pigs” by, erm, the Ham and High (the local paper for a sizeable proportion of North London jews). None of this seems to have anything to do with religion and everything to do with people (either religious people themselves or silly people claiming to speak on their behalf) going out of their way to find offence in nothing. And it seems to be getting worse. I am quite certain that if Leon the Pig Farmer were made today, a combination of the media and a small bunch of hopping idiots would have lead to it being branded as anti-semitic. The idea that religious people have an inalienable right to not be offended is still only believed by a minority of people, but that minority seems to be growing, getting louder and become increasingly irrational.

There is absolutely no connection between pigs and Judaism (they aren’t actually mentioned in the Torah) except in the mind of someone who can’t get over the fact that the latter don’t eat the former despite the deliciousness that is bacon. It is no more offensive to Jews to talk about pigs as it would be to talk about rabbits or elephants (or indeed pretty much any animal which Jews can’t eat – i.e. most of them). Yet strangely, people like Yakov Litzman seem to now be making the connection themselves. Ultimately, the only thing that all this hypersensitivity seems to achieve is to give true anti-semites another stick to beat Jews with.

Go back a hundred years ago, and the images of choice for anti-semites were spiders and octopi. We were meant to associate Jews with alien, many tentacled creatures spinning webs of deceit. Portraying them as cute, wuddly piggy-wiggies – at least as far as I am aware – simply didn’t come into it. Yet start shouting foul every time a pig appears in popular culture, and you can bet the BNP et al will leap at every opportunity to goad.

Why on Earth would you want to arm your true enemies like that? And why on Earth would you want to muddy the water between your true enemies and your friends in this way? It is a perverse form of madness.

Addendum: I have to admit to being entertained by this related web page which I came across (I was going to make a gag about man flu, but the Mexican joke was better), for two reasons. Firstly, it seems unaware of the commandment against murder, which one would have thought prohibits most opportunities for cannibalism straight away. Secondly, Leviticus does in fact prohibit man from eating any animal from eating any animal which doesn’t have cloven hooves or chew cud but pointing that out would mean admitting that humans are animals and that most Christians ignore the Bible when it comes to dietary laws in the first place. And I love the conclusion that cannibalism is okay so long as there’s nothing else on the menu. Who writes these things?

Addendum 2: I’m a little uncomfortable, by the way, at this talk of equating references to usury with disguised anti-semitism. Usury has a lot to answer for – and is explicitly prohibited by the Torah. The only reason we historically find jews specialising in banking is that is one of the few professions Europeans allowed them to perform back in the day when the church actually enforced those particular laws. I don’t doubt that the BNP do use it in a coded way, but I hope that won’t be used as an excuse to stifle debate about economic reform.

Truffle Hunting with Lib Dig

Over on Lib Dem Voice, I’ve started a new column called Lib Dig Pig.

Why Lib Dig Pig? Well, frankly it came from a old gag about “Lib Dig on a Pig” about having the section on the website dedicated to Sarah Palin and I just like the sound of it. But I do like the visual metaphor of snuffling around hunting for rich, smelly webpages lying there beneath the surface.

I think it is a karma thing. This is probably what I did in a past life (not that I believe in such things you understand – before the Boyce Thought Police descend on me).

Pigs 1, Goths 0 (UPDATE)

The two most read articles on BBCi today give us a fascinating insight into where Britain’s collective head is at.

First of all we have the goth couple who have been banned from the bus because he insists on leading her on a lead. There are two issues here. First of all the bus company are surely only being responsible to ban them on health and safety grounds – the inherent dangers are quite obvious. Secondly, while what people do behind closed doors is fine by me, it is fascinating to compare this issue with the ongoing controversy over Muslim dress codes.

There is much public anxiety these days about Burqas (which I don’t see around anything like as much as I did a couple of years ago – anyone else notice this?) and other forms of Muslim dress. Would we have the same anxiety if like “Dani” and “Tasha” (guffaw!) they merely defined it as a form of sexual expression?

Is it really, as I fear some of my readers may accuse me, illiberal and prejudiced to suggest the two simply grow up, get a life and stop shoving their crass faux radicalism down our figurative throats? Where is the fine line between pointing out that people are making arses out of themselves and celebrating self-expression? Answers on a postcard (well, in the comments below) please.

Meanwhile, a retelling of the Three Little Pigs has been banned from a competition because it apparently is offensive to both Muslims and builders. In the case of the latter, I’m not sure if any retelling of the story can really avoid portraying them in a good light, unless the story is changed so that the houses made of straw and sticks end up meeting the latest tough EU building directives. I wonder if this sudden concern for the portrayal of the construction industry has anything to do with the current domination of Eastern Europeans of it in the UK? Should we all be talking it up with a view to establishing a new generation of eager young British labourers? Maybe studying Auf Weidersehen, Pet should be made compulsory on the national curriculum? Perhaps Bob the Builder should be monumented on the fourth plinth on Trafalgar Square?

But I digress. As I’ve blogged before, in what way are piggies offensive to Muslims? Just because I don’t eat horses, it doesn’t mean I think Black Beauty should be banned. I don’t seem to ever hear Muslims objecting to it either; only people claiming to speak “for” them. I think I need this carefully explained to me, preferably with diagrams, but apparently doing so would be “culturally insensitive” so I fear it won’t happen.

UPDATE: Okay, mea culpa. I’ve read a couple of alternative accounts of the goth incident and while my views on the couple themselves haven’t changed, my defence of the bus driver in question certainly was misplaced. Everyone has a right to get on a bus without being abused, verbally or physically.

Sadly, Tasha herself though doesn’t exactly come out of this well: “I am a pet, I generally act animal like and I lead a really easy life. I don’t cook or clean and I don’t go anywhere without Dani. It might seem strange but it makes us both happy. It’s my culture and my choice. It isn’t hurting anyone.” Sounds like low self-esteem to me. Since Mat wants to bark Mill at me, I will refer him to this. You really think I’m the one enslaving people by conformity?

Can religion make animals disappear?

Honestly, who’d be a pig these days?

It was bad enough in the 70s and 80s when you were associated with the police force (George Orwell’s doing?). Now, your very existence is regularly said to offend both Jews and Muslims.

The latest example of this is an attempt (ultimately futile, but why let that get in the way of a good rant?) in Yorkshire to make a school play featuring the Three Little Pigs change the said porcine characters into canines, on the grounds that it would offend Muslims.

This is of course palpable nonsense. Not only are living pigs not offensive to Muslims (it is the smoke-cured variety that causes them difficulty), but living dogs very much are. Actually, let me be clearer, it isn’t forbidden to own a dog in Islam, but there are certain restrictions on what you do with it regarding purity laws. As with many religions though, cultural practice is often assumed, by practitioners and outsiders alike, as being religious decree. I’ve known Muslims who had a problem with dogs, either regarding them with utter contempt, or having an irrational fear of them. Indeed, the dislike of dogs has been cited as part of a rejection of Zoroastrianism, which highly valued dogs. The rise of Islam in Persia went hand in hand with a persecution of Zoroastrianism and cultural norms about not liking dogs may have started then.

Yet, because the most that the average brainless local government bureaucrat knows about Islam is that his Friday night kebab doesn’t have any pork in it, the rise of the pig as the ultimate in pariah animals has been inexorable. A friend of mine who used to work in educational publishing once told me that she had got a furious complaint, from a teacher who made it clear that she was not herself Muslim, because they had published an alphabet wall chart with “p” for “pig” on it. Last week I mentioned the ludicrousness of the Ham and High of all newspapers claiming that Labour was anti-semitic for portraying Michael Howard as a flying pig.

In turn, I have no doubt that this will become mutually reinforcing. Anxious Jews and Muslims, reaching out to find new examples of how they are being persecuted, are bound to lap all this up. Soon, people will be calling for Charlotte’s Web to be banned (Wilbur is an innocent being manipulated by the sinister, spidery Charlotte whose actions are driven by the Zionist Protocols); I can guarantee that the loony fringe of the Jewish lobby will start asserting that Animal Farm is anti-semitic (after all, Nelson=Marx, and Marx was a Jew). The lunacy can only continue. The only logical outcome of all this is to ban the pig, not merely the animal, but the concept itself. Only then can we guarantee that Jews and Muslims, and people claiming to be speaking for Jews and Muslims, will not be traumatised by their existence.

All of which suggests that Heather Mills is perhaps not thinking things through in her latest attempt to get the public on her side by convincing them she is Linda McCartney protesting at how pigs are treated on farms. She might just as well start doodling pictures of Mohammed.