“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
– Billy Shakespeare
Or stink like a pig. …..There was an interesting story in Tuesday’s New York Times about the recent swine flu outbreak that apparently originated in Mexico. The story wasn’t about the deaths or spread of the disease or even the government precautions being taken to protect us from it. It was about the name.
It seems some people are objecting to what the flu has been labeled as – swine flu. Pork producers are up in arms claiming it will put people off their pork. They want it renamed for the country of origin – the Mexican Flu.
Orthodox Jews, who don’t eat pork in the first place, want it renamed North American Flu so their members don’t even have to utter the word swine.
And, most likely, the next group to protest the name will be the bankers and brokers on Wall Street who apparently already own the copyright to the name swine.
In reality, scientists investigating the new strain of influenza say that, while it does appear to have originated in Mexico, it contains traces of both swine flu, which comes from pigs, and avian flu, which comes from birds. So, technically, it comes from flying pigs so all of those things you said would happen when pigs fly should be taking place right about now.
So what is in a name? Have we gotten so politically correct that we can’t even call something that’s going to sicken and maybe even kill us after a barnyard animal? Do we have to rename Mad Cow Disease and call it Mad Ruminant With Four Stomachs Disease?
The Times also reported a few months ago that, because of its negative connotations from the Bush Administration, there is a move afoot to rename the No Child Left Behind Act, the act that was supposed to set standards for elementary and secondary education in this country.
Some of the suggestions submitted thus far include the All American Children Are Above Average Act, the Mental Asset Recovery Plan, the Act to Help Children Read Gooder, No Child’s Behind Left, and the Double Back Around To Pick Up The Children Left Behind Act.
One entry gets my vote for being brutally blunt about what the act really entails. It’s called the Teach To The Test Act.
So apparently we have reached the point where a name isn’t just a name anymore. Shakespeare would be extremely disappointed.
And as for the swine flu, I suggest we call it what it really is – Montezuma’s Revenge. Of course, we’ll hear from the Aztecs.
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38677 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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