This is one for the “funny-but-actually-quite-mad” pile:
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. Both Judaism and Islam consider pigs unclean and forbid the eating of pork products.
Let’s set aside for a moment objections that the virus in question – a mongrel strain of H1N1 - has more to do with pigs than with Mexico as a whole, or indeed with Mexicans, as some might infer from the suggested renaming. Let’s also set aside the fact the virus has been found in the US, Canada, Spain, New Zealand and the UK, and has genetic elements of at least three other animal flu viruses found in North America, Asia and Europe. Let’s put that out of our minds and grapple with the much more pressing issue: When did the mere “reference to pigs” – i.e. the word “swine” - become such a trial for the devout? Will the indignity never end? And is the aforementioned “sensitivity” something to do with the fact that transmission from pigs to humans suggests a genetic commonality of some kind? I think we should be told.