Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Flu That Dare Not Speak Its Name

The world is currently in the grip of swine flu panic, ever since it burst forth from Mexico a few days ago. One would think that the last thing to wrangle about at this point is what we actually call the virus.

Alas, what's a name in the face of thousands of years of religious woo?

It may be called swine flu around the world, but a senior Israeli official on Monday changed the term in order not to pronounce the name of the animal whose meat is banned by Judaism.

'We will use the term Mexican flu in order not to have to pronounce the word swine,' said Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman of the ultra-religious United Torah Judaism party.
I mean, that's just silly, right? Only someone suffering from a case of magical thinking could do something so silly. Er, well, not quite:
U.S. officials, particularly the agricultural department, were under pressure from the pork lobby that fears the term 'swine flu' is confusing people into thinking they can catch the virus from pork, which they can't, the AP says.

* * *

So the U.S. government is now officially going with 'H1N1' even though the bureaucracy is finding it hard to shake the old 'swine flu' label.
Why don't we just rename it Bin Laden Flu and be done with it!

1 comment:

tanstaafl said...

I don't care what it is called, just keep it away from me.

I think the hilarious part is the number of hogs that have been killed because of the mistaken belief that the meat can cause the flu.

"And waitress, before you leave,
Would you bring me some coffee---
And a hot ham sandwich please."
Tom T. Hall

Tom T. was right. Everything can be cured with a ham sandwich and a hot cup of coffee.