Friday, May 1, 2009
There seems to be a lack of agreement about the name of the infamous flu virus now threatening global health and commerce. At first, the World Health Organization called it Swine Flu, because its DNA mostly comes from pigs. Asian and European pigs, they said.
Naturally, pigs were immediately cast into suspicion as virus originators despite there being no sick pigs. Pigs are easy targets, especially in Muslim countries. Fingers immediately pointed at a huge pig farm in Vera Cruz, but that farm raises a breed of swine specific to the Americas, not Europe or Asia.
I couldn't imagine living next door to one million pigs but I can imagine the disgusting ways they could make their presence felt. I'm imagining a lingering stench that soaks into the villages and people that surround the farm. I'm imagining a plague of flies spawned from giant stinking cesspools of pig waste. The rest is unimaginable.
If we can't pin the blame for creating a killer virus on a multinational pig farm, let's at least use what we've learned to literally clean up their shit. The nastiness level of large-scale pig farming must be acknowledged and dealt with. People like eating pigs but we don't like messes.
Several governments have put temporary restrictions on pork products. The Egyptian government has ordered all pigs destroyed. The Swine moniker has cost a lot of money.
Responding to increased political pressures, the WHO changed the name to A(H1N1). It isn't catchy but does sound scientific. Someone suggested a contest to find a new name our popular killer.
The European newspapers called it the Mexican Flu, but I'm sure that ticks off the Mexicans. Unlike pigs, Mexicans can talk and they can't be happy with a name that blames them. Next thing you know, we'll be culling Mexicans.
History usually provides a name for things once the details are discovered, covered up or omitted. Sometimes it's the wrong name, like the 1918 Spanish Flu.
Oddly, the flu virus has DNA from birds and people, as well as pigs. If we can't blame it on people or pigs, maybe we can still find a stool pigeon. Unfortunately, there is already an Avian Flu going around.
I think we should call it the Bogeyman Flu because everything about it just feels bogus to me.
Relatively few of the reported cases of flu are actually confirmed. Despite what you see on CSI, it still takes time (and money) to sequence DNA. Consequently, scientists really know very little about the current epidemic including who has it, where it came from and how dangerous it really is. It could be very dangerous so the media is cranking out booga booga.
Monsanto has patents on genetically-designed pigs and many governments are designing bio weapons from various viruses. This wouldn't be the first man-made virus to escape into the wild.
It's boogieman scary this Bogeyman Flu. It's scary enough to push other scary news away -- news like the economic crisis and Dick Cheney's Madhouse of Torture. Little things like stolen trillions seem insignificant when you're hacking up blood.
News of the flu is brought to you by the same people responsible for the wars on terror, drugs and poverty. The bogeyman's job is to instill fear and a new killer virus makes his job easier.
If people are afraid to gather, it makes protesting difficult. We still have the internet for virtual civic intercouse but notice that the internet is full of viruses and infections as well. Meanwhile the bogeyman is writing new laws to shut down the internet as well.
Isolated in fear, will we become a nation of poverty-stricken, drug-addled toture victims?