Commentary

A.C. Snow: Is it time to declare ‘Take a Pig to Lunch Week’?

CorrespondentSeptember 7, 2013 

The U.S. Humane Society’s lawsuit against Raleigh’s Transportation Authority for refusing to display posters on local buses depicting caged pigs has some folks muttering.

“First thing you know, we’ll be observing national ‘Take A Pig to Lunch Week,’ one fellow groused.

At issue is the pork industry’s practice of confining pigs or hogs in 2-by-4-foot cages so they will fatten faster. The caption under the photo asks, “How would you like to spend the rest of your life in a space as small as a bus seat?”

The society hopes to provoke public indignation that will lead to pork industry reforms. The Transit Authority insists the ads are too negative as well as deceptive and misleading.

I’m pro pig. As a kid on the farm, I used to pray on a cold winter morning that the school bus would pick me up before the shots rang out from the pig pen, heralding the start of “hog killing day.”

I never think of hog killing without remembering a certain WPTF radio weather report from RDU airport.

On a cold winter morning, a farmer out in the boondocks called to ask the weather man, “Do you think it’s cold enough to kill hogs?”

The weather scientist, probably from New Jersey or thereabouts, replied innocently, “No, sir. I don’t think so, but just to be sure it won’t hurt to bring ’em into the barn at night.”

I’ve always been sensitive to cruelty toward lesser creatures and passed on the trait to my children.

When my older daughter was 3, we were invited to a couple’s home for Thanksgiving lunch. During the meal, the hostess, from New England, explained, “We’re having Long Island duck today.”

“Melinda not eat quack-quack!” the child said firmly, pushing her plate away.

While we’re on the subject of animal cruelty, when are you folks going to rally around my crusade to ban the boiling alive of the lobsters we see splashing around in restaurant tanks awaiting the hand that will pluck them out and toss them into a cauldron of boiling water?

What am I to do, overturn the lobster tank as I leave the restaurant?

Confining any living thing to a cage is cruel. Only vegetarians enjoy a clear conscience.

Word critic

Mike Hoyt of Raleigh complains about the repetitive use of certain expressions by our staff.

“Seems like we’re always ‘bracing’ for something,” he writes. “N.C. State is ‘bracing’ for its upcoming football season. We’re ‘bracing’ for hurricane season. The capitol is ‘bracing’ for another Moral Monday protest, etc.

“Surely, there are better, more descriptive and certainly less shopworn verbs in editors’ lexicons, aren’t there?”

I explained to Mike that different people write the headlines for the newspaper’s various sections and “brace” is a good word in a culture that is truly “braced” for so many crises.

Every hurricane season, TV commentators drive me nuts by using the overworked expression “hunkered down.” People were or would be or should be “hunkered down” for an approaching disaster.

A recent sports headline writer wrote that an ice-hockey player had “fire in his belly” to describe the player’s inspired performance. The expression summons up the image of fire extinguishers parked by the team bench in the event of belly fires.

But I like colorful writing. Think how dull journalism would be without it.

Tasty tomato

Verily I say unto you, University of Florida plant scientists who develop a more succulent supermarket tomato will garner affection from lovers of ’mater sandwiches.

Most store-bought tomatoes taste like a cross breed between a pumpkin and a pomegranate.

While many Tar Heels debate the merits of different kinds of barbecue, tomato aficionados argue over which is the best tomato: the German Johnson or the Purple Cherokee. Either one will send drools of appreciation down your chin.

I’ll always remember the time I went shopping at Farmers Market for heirloom tomatoes. I approached a stand tended by a young farm girl.

Picking up a handsome tomato, I asked her “What are these?” referring to the variety..

Giving me a “What kind of idiot is this?” look, she replied incredulously, “Why, mister, they’re ’maters!”

Snow: 919-836-5636 or asnow@newsobserver.com

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service