Tuesday, September 22, 2009

If Pigs Could Fly and Other Livestock Sayings

I've been thinking a lot about livestock these last couple of days, specifically pigs. It seems they have received the credit for the latest bout of flu making the rounds on the planet. Guess what I've been doing for the last two days? Lying on my sofa, in my living room, dealing with, you guessed it, swine flu. Ah, the joys of working in a public school, where teenagers routinely come into the building, coughing, sneezing, and generally mucking up the place with their various secretions. Who gets the credit for this? No, not teenagers. It's not called 16 year olds with an attitude flu. It's the poor pigs who get the credit. Swine flu.

Ever hear of cow flu, sheep flu, goat flu? Of course not. It is true that recently there was a round of bird flu. It primarily affected, well duh, birds, however. The Chinese slaughtered scads of chickens to keep it from spreading, to other birds. It seems that if all the birds die of bird flu, there will be no more Kung Pao Chicken, no more Peking duck, no more....well you get the picture.

More recently, the Egyptian government slaughtered thousands and thousands of pigs, the origin of, ummm, swine flu. This was in spite of the fact that the flu bug had mutated and was being passed from human to human by this time. People don't get swine flu from pigs, or from eating pork. Poor pigs hadn't a chance, especially in a Muslim country where pork is verboten, and swine, in general, are much maligned.

Come to think of it, pigs are often maligned many places other than Muslim countries, and to a much greater extent than other livestock. Of course cattle were blamed for Jakob-Creutzfeldt disease, a little degenerative disease of the brain. How do you get it? From eating cows with "Mad Cow Disease," that's how. Mind you a few herds of cattle have been destroyed, but cattle in general have not been maligned to the extent that pigs have. We still enjoy our burgers, our milk, our butter, our cheese, and most cows are none the worse for the incidents with their cousins. Half the world refuses to have anything to do with pigs. (Think Islam, Judaism, etc.) Hey the Hindu masses in India revere cows as sacred. Does anyone out there know of a religion that finds pigs sacred?

How about sheep? Truthfully, sheep get a bit of a bad rap in the intelligence department. There is the accusation that people who have no original ideas, "follow like sheep." I suspect the governments of the world rather like this trait. And to be honest, most people think sheep are cute and cuddly. Baby sheep, lambs, are compared to children, and are considered those things that need to be protected. Besides, wool makes great sweaters for those long winter days. Pigs? Hmmm. Good for making footballs (Think pig skins.). Go ahead. Kick them around.

No other livestock that I can think of suffers quite as much as the poor pig from verbal abuse. Know someone who has a messy house? "It looked like a pig sty." Know someone who has embarked on a quest with no chance of success. "If pigs could fly." Know someone whose low class demeanor leaves them little room for improvement? "Can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear." Does any other poor animal suffer this kind of verbal, metaphorical abuse? I think not. And to top it all off, where do you think Spam comes from?

Enough is enough I say. It's time the poor pig takes its place in the pantheon of noble beasts, okay noble beasts at the lower end of the food chain. Is a pig really less than a cow? Is a pork roast less than roast beef? Is a pork chop less than a beef steak? How about ham? (I honestly know a number of Jewish individuals who keep kosher for the most part, but who sneak a slice of ham every now and again. Hard to resist. Don't know enough Muslims to get any significant statistical data on that.).

At any rate, all of you maligners of pigs out there, I have one word for you, and I think you should think about this next time you begin maligning pigs. No it isn't prociutto, though that would be a good second option. The word ladies and gentlemen, is (Drum roll please.) ....bacon.
Now I must return to my sofa and blow my nose. It seems the swine flu has not run its course as yet. "This little piggy went to market....." "Once upon a time, there were three little pigs....."

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