David Thompson


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April 28, 2009



He said "pork". Ow, my religion hurts!


I’m a courteous guy by nature, but there does come a point where it seems only fair to lean over and whisper, “You do realise you sound like an escaped mental patient?”

Horace Dunn

"And is the aforementioned “sensitivity” something to do with the fact that transmission from pigs to humans suggests a genetic commonality of some kind?"

Assuming that the man's words have not been misrepresented (which is of course very possible) I think you'll find the root of this in the usual place - vanity and stupidity. There's no deep thought involved here. Someone just saw the chance to show off his culturally sensitive side and seized it.

I think that we should emphasise the "funny" rather than the "mad" side of this. When people behave like buffoons, let's just laugh at them.



It’s certainly possible no great thought was involved - these things can become a reflex - and it’s the implied vanity that’s interesting. But, coming from a Deputy Health Minister in a developed country, it does sound a little, well, bonkers.

Horace Dunn


"coming from a Deputy Health Minister in a developed country, it does sound a little, well, bonkers"

Ah, yes. Now you mention it, when I compare this with the sort of well-meaning, level-headed and downright sensible pronouncements that one has grown to expect from, say, ministers at Westminster, it does seem a little barmy.



Well, yes, there is that. But the objection is still absurd, not least in light of accommodations made regarding xenotransplantation, which is likely to involve pigs:

“Recent advances in understanding the mechanisms of transplant organ rejection have brought science to a stage where it is reasonable to consider that organs from other species, probably pigs, may soon be engineered to minimize the risk of serious rejection and used as an alternative to human tissues, possibly ending organ shortages… Religious beliefs, such as the Jewish and Muslim prohibition against eating pork, have been sometimes thought to be a problem, however according to a Council of Europe documentation both religions agree that this rule is overridden by the preservation of human life… While some individual Jews may not wish to receive a pig valve based on their personal beliefs, the rabbinical view is that the use of pig valves in humans is not a violation of kashruth law. In fact, killing a pig in order to save a human life is a requirement in the Jewish faith, under the laws of pikuach nefesh.”


If pig parts or pig-derived tissue is acceptable, at least to some, it seems a little odd to be vexed by the mere mention of the beast. As it were.


This seems to encapsulate the essence of multiculturalism: The real problem (and the solution) isn't discussed. How we "feel" about it is the primary concern.
I feel safer already, don't you?

Wm T Sherman

The man speaks for himself. There is no widespread concern about the term amongst Jews or Muslims. I agree that he is a peculiar specimen, worth cataloguing


I’d imagine quite a few Jews and Muslims were amused by Mr Litzman’s display of hypersensitivity. As so often, these things become an issue when someone presumes to be conspicuously “sensitive” on behalf of someone else. And I’m pretty sure someone somewhere is furiously calculating which group – Jews, Muslims or Mexicans – has the most Victim Cred™ and should thus prevail. It seems to be the way these things are decided.


Are there any Jewish Mexicans who work on pig farms?

John D

"I'd imagine quite a few Jews and Muslims were amused by Mr Litzman's display of hypersensitivity."

Not everyone thinks it's funny:


Tom Freeman

I'd have thought the phrase 'swine flu' suggests that swine are, well, unclean. Which I believe is the point they keep trying to make.

Have I missed something? Other than the dizzying vortex of self-important cretinism that occupies the intersection of religion and party politics, of course...


Suppose I were Hispanic. Should I be offended that a disease be named after my people purely on the random factor that it first arose in my country. After all I could construct a case to show that in the past racism has been directed at foreigners who supposedly carry noxious diseases and that creating an association will therefore increase racism directed at Mexicans. The demand that the disease be named after a people BECAUSE it is less offensive is bizarre.

Muslims/Jews do not eat pigs. That does not imply a ban on using the word.


"As so often, these things become an issue when someone presumes to be conspicuously 'sensitive' on behalf of someone else."

Ah, but still not sensitive enough:

Pork Industry Fights Concerns Over Swine Flu ( http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/29/business/economy/29trade.html ):

"Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, convened a hearing on Tuesday on a subject he described as 'the so-called swine flu,' even as a campaign was mounted by farm groups to rename the virus 'North American influenza.'"

"'Swine flu is a misnomer,' said C. Larry Pope, the chief executive of Smithfield Foods, who said he feared panic among consumers. 'They need to be concerned about influenza, but not eating pork.'"


A little perspective…


Note the typically sober Daily Mail headline.

Ichabod Chrain

Actually the reference to swine is not offensive to Jews. Lots of Jewish blogs are giving Litzman heat for this.

Mr Eugenides

As noted above, I would have thought that the Jewish objection to swine - broadly speaking, that they are "unclean" - would sit rather well with the emergence of a virus that has spread to humans by dint of their living in close proximity to such animals, in defiance of the laws set down by God for Man. One might almost call it a cautionary tale.


Mr Eugenides

As I understand it, the virus has spread between pigs, chickens and humans. Remember "Bird Flu"? Oh, and "Mad Cow Disease"? So no salt beef or chicken soup either...

Maybe the Hindus are right.

Jacksonian Grouch

For David & H D:
Even more absurd, I just read on the wire that Egypt is slaughtering 300,000 pigs over this affair.

Egypt has pigs????!!!!


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