Columnist for Saturday, 5/5 - Lictor

Pork Chopped

Before I begin, let me nail my colors firmly to the mast. I like meat. Yes, sir, I do; and for those that have been paying attention, I am not much of an animal lover. Or perhaps that should be, animal-lover. (Here I'm referring to my views on animals, and not some reference to my bedroom styling.)

Still there are some animals that, given the choice, and all other things being equal, I'd rather not eat, like rabbits or gorillas or slugs. Now, if it came down to a them-or-me situation, well that'd be different. If my life depended on it, I'd eat *you,* let alone a cute and fluffy bunny.

Up until very recently I had enjoyed the many and varied food products that can be derived from pigs. Bacon, ham, sausage, pork chops, you name it, I liked it. I'm beginning to wonder though. It's not that I am particularly fond of pigs. Far from it. Ugly, smelly animals, with little to recommend them aesthetically, unless you happen to be a big fan of Ned Beatty, I suppose. No; it's something else.

The assault on my love for pork (and that's the noun, not the verb,) is really coming from two directions. The first is a vague disquiet about brain worms and parasites and the like. Just one too many stories about people eating something that not just disagreed with them, but actually set up home and started a family. The second is the nagging doubt that maybe, just maybe I shouldn't be eating something so intelligent. I hear that pigs are really very clever little animals and well, it seems kind of cruel to eat something that's intelligent when the world is chock full of meat that's as dumb as a post.

Horses, for example. Or antelope. Or Zebra, or wildebeast, or hell, anything with an IQ equivalent to my sock drawer.

I wouldn't want to chow down on dolphin, and I suspect that *most* people would agree with me, for the same reason of intelligence versus taste. But have you ever noticed? Chop the tail off a dolphin, nail on four stumpy legs and what do you have? Well, apart from a rapidly widening slick of dolphin blood, you have a pig. Really. Oh, the snout's off a bit, but we have to make allowances for hydro-dynamics.

Are pigs as bright as dolphins? Well, maybe. It's likely no-one's really tested it thoroughly enough and the reason for the public's disinterest in porcine perspicacity? Because they taste nice. Pork tastes yummy and so who wants to know if there's anyone at home behind those little well, 'piggy', eyes?

To ease my conscience, I'd like to propose intelligence tests for food products. Now I know this puts most of the plant kingdom at something of a disadvantage, but frankly, I think it's safe to say that the number of complaints we'll get is low. Animal species could be tested and those that fall below a certain agreed level would be, well, fair game. Sheep and cows are still obviously going to be on the menu and chickens are definitely going to be spending some serious time bathing in the curry Jacuzzi so there's no need to worry.

I'm not sure what form these tests should take as yet; it's difficult to come up with a system that's fair and doesn't bias one species over another. I think that something along the lines of 'ability to extrapolate current activity into future consequences' would be a fine standard to aim for. I'm sure pigs would do just fine, along with dolphins, the great apes and probably even dogs and cats.

Unfortunately this does rather suggest I might need to develop a taste for the meat of drivers of Lincoln Navigators, Ford Excursions and the other out-sized SUVs. They clearly can't see the connection between buying a huge, polluting, road monster and, say, the problems caused by people driving huge, polluting, road monsters. I am sure these are the same people whining the loudest about rising gas prices, to give one example.

As a food source, though, they would replace pigs nicely. There are lots of them about and hell, I know the meat will be nice and tender. Those seats are built to make the rump steak area generous and soft. So next time you see someone climbing down from the upper slopes of one of those steel and leather Mount Olympuses, just picture that plump rear served with rice and Nan bread.


Previous day's column (Cindy)