Swine flu: Just one more thing to blame on pigs

First Posted: 5/1/2009

Have you ever noticed that people just dont get the flu anymore? It always seems to be known by some kind of animalistic name.
For example, there is the avian flu, which is just a fancy way of saying bird flu. Then, of course, there is the swine flu, which is the strain causing all the concern around the country now.
And, based on findings by my crack research department, there also are other, lesser-known varieties of flu such as equine (affecting horses), bovine (cows), canine (dogs) and Andy Devine (out-of-work Hollywood actors).
But it is the swine variety that really has me sizzling today, like thick slices of bacon in a frying pan. I must join with hog farmers around the country who are crying foul fowl, if you want to keep this discussion on animalistic terms about how this latest pandemic is one more thing dragging their fine industry through the mud.
My question is this: The flu is basically the flu, so why do we have to single out a particular animal species for the blame? Where the swine flu is concerned, it appears to be just another example of how we show such little regard for an animal that gives us so much.
I already mentioned bacon. Then theres ham, barbecue, ribs and other tasty things provided by pigs, which are actually more intelligent than dogs who seem to have a much better public-relations campaign.
But how do we repay the hogs of America for all the good they do? When were not dissecting their body parts to put on the grill or help us find ways to cure diseases in humans, were heaping one slice of ridicule on them right after another, I would argue.
This frequently is done by labeling negative or rude behavior with swine-like terminology.
A person who enjoys himself (or herself) a little too much at the buffet line often is accused of eating like a pig.
Meanwhile, a showboater or someone who likes the spotlight can be referred to as wanting to hog all the glory.
When politicians are stealing money excuse me, appropriating funding for their own little pet projects, its not called poultry barrel spending or beef barrel spending, but pork barrel spending, of course.
And more than one child has come running into the house, only to hear his mother shout in disgust: Bubba, what have you been doing youre as nasty as a hog!
One of my personal favorites has to be the label applied to a home that has not been kept as tidy as it should. How can you live in such a pig sty? is something that might be uttered along those lines.
The implication of such terms is that people whove had no motivation whatsoever to maintain a clean house or cram less food into their mouths or steal less money, suddenly will change once their behavior is compared to that of hogs.
But what really gets my goat (they get picked on a lot, too but thats a different column) is this latest doomsday scenario with the flu which has been laid at the unpickled feet of the humble hog. The suggestion is that if all mankind perishes from this swine flu epidemic, it will be the sole fault of the pigs.
To me, it doesnt really matter what you call an illness that causes fever, general aches and pains, headache, fatigue and weakness, chest discomfort and cough which all flu strains generally do.
Yet if Im really forced to get down and dirty in the slop and apply some name that truly reflects what a plague this latest malady has heaped upon humanity, I will cast my vote for the Rosie ODonnell flu.
Tom Joyce is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at [email protected] or 719-1924.

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