Bob McCown posted this story as a comment on one of my Facebook entries yesterday:
The outbreak of swine flu should be renamed "Mexican" influenza in deference to Muslim and Jewish sensitivities over pork, said an Israeli health official Monday.
Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman said the reference to pigs is offensive to both religions and "we should call this Mexican flu and not swine flu," he told a news conference at a hospital in central Israel. (AP via Google - Israeli official: Swine flu name offensive)
I'm no expert on kashrut, but isn't the prohibition on pork specific in that orally ingesting pork is what is forbidden? Don't many Jews who keep kosher receive insulin injections which may contain porcine products, and they do so with the blessings of their rabbi?
Deputy Health Minister Litzman undoubtedly knows more about Judaism than I do, so I don't feel like I'm in a position to argue what is and is not offensive to Jews. But it certainly seems like he's presuming to speak for a lot of people. There are a lot of Jews and Muslims. He's not saying that the reference to pigs is offensive to him personally; he's saying that it's offensive to the religions. It's up to Jews and Muslims to decide whether he speaks for them on that account. As far as I'm concerned, he can make up silly rules all day if he wants. Just don't expect me to have much respect for him.
Not surprisingly, an ancient prohibition from eating pork won't make a damn bit of difference to your chances of getting the swine flu. Unfortunately there is no prohibition from getting coughed on by someone who has recently been hanging around an infected pig. Some might call that ironic. Some might find the word "ironic" offensive and prefer to just call it "Mexican."
I wanted to give Mr. Litzman the benefit of the doubt when I heard that he was afraid that the constant references to swine would stigmatize Mexicans in the Jewish and Muslim world. However, his insistence on renaming the flu as "Mexican Flu" does little to convince me of his altruism. Talk about stigmatizing.
I declare Mr. Litzman the swine fool of the day. I plan to have a BLT for lunch to seal the deal.