Pigs Versus Humanity

May 20, 2015

This is an “oldie” but wanted to put it out there…

1. This Country Has a Pig Problem, Part 1.

This week I learned that nationwide, herds of marauding wild pigs are devastating farmland, laying waste to the countryside and even killing pets. Do you have any idea how much this both fascinates and terrifies me? Does anyone else remember that scary wild boar attack in the Thorn Birds? Wild pigs mean business.

The author of a book called Pig Tales (get it?) was on an absolutely riveting Fresh Air episode, where he doled out countless anecdotes about how intelligent all pigs are, how revolting factory farming is (pigs eating pigs, standing in their own feces, never leaving their pens), and how astonishingly destructive the wild pigs can be.

Apparently, there’s millions of wild pigs in Texas. Texans can shoot them all year long, and since it’s Texas, they do. They kill 750,000 pigs a year, but the pigs are still winning. Apparently, wild pigs can smell something 7 miles away. I wonder if they can smell the manure lagoons created by the factory hog farms where their brothers and sisters are imprisoned. Wild pigs can eat corn off the plant while standing on their hind legs. The image of a pig standing on its hind legs is Japanese-horror-movie scary to me.

I was raised by atheists but I hear stories like this and I think about Judgment Day. My mind spins into weird sci-fi directions with random Pentecostal underpinnings. Basically, I think it’s karma. I think these wild pigs are here to teach us all a lesson about how to treat animals, even the ones you plan to eat.

2. This country has a pig problem, part 2.

Some pigs always stand on their hind legs, unless they’re laying on their mom’s basement sofa sending out vicious sexually explicit hateful Internet commentary. I think we all sort of begrudgingly accept that most online comments veer toward crazy. Racist, sexist, violent, ugly stuff just gets chalked up to “lots of whack jobs out there.”

I am so psyched to see some women pushing back at this variation of “boys will be boys.” A recent This American Life episode included the story of a particularly creative troll who was harassing the writer Lindy West. As she said, “One midsummer afternoon in 2013 I got a message on Twitter from my dead dad. I don’t remember what it said exactly. And I didn’t keep a copy for my scrapbook. But it was mean.”

What the hell? That guy found out her dad had recently died, created a faux Twitter account in his name, then tweeted he was ashamed of his daughter.

She confronts him. He apologizes and West forgives him. It’s the sort of story that gives me hope. Maybe the pigs won’t win.

Then I heard the funny women on Another Round talking about the This American Life piece in their segment “Men Gotta Do Better.” This podcast is my new favorite — when I listen to them joking around about their work, wearing their hair natural, or going to Cracker Barrel, it feels like i’m eavesdropping on a conversation between two women who are way cooler than me.

Finally, a while back I read the most awesome article in the New Yorker by Rebecca Mead called The Troll Slayer. It’s about Mary Beard, a Cambridge scholar who is that uniquely English brand of smart, witty and irreverent. And, because it’s England, she has become something of a TV star in London for her shows about the banal yet revealing details of daily life in ancient Rome. (For instance, tartar on dental remains suggests everyone in Pompeii had stank breath.) The trolls don’t take kindly to a zaftig gray-haired gal being both popular and opinionated but she’s made confronting the misogyny a personal crusade. Here’s a quote from Beard:
“It doesn’t much matter what line of argument you take as a woman. If you venture into traditional male territory, the abuse comes anyway. It’s not what you say that prompts it — it’s the fact that you are saying it.”

Who are these guys? What sort of sad lives do they lead? What manure lagoon do they swim in? I mean, that guy invented a fake Twitter account of a woman’s dead dad to harass her. What. A. Douche.

3. And yes, I said Douche.

Is it really not feminist to call him that? I love my vagina. Vaginas make the world go round, but I wouldn’t want to be the liquid someone would use to rinse one out. And don’t we all agree douchebags are a relic of the past, like belted maxi pads and l’eggs? By labelling someone an outdated vagina-washing method, I feel like we sort of capture their utter uselessness, their expendability, their obsolesence.

In an interview with On Being, Maria Popova, of BrainPickings.org, said “Evil only prevails when we mistake it for the norm.” At the time she was talking about something else, but maybe we are all mistaking these jerks as the norm. Maybe we’re all being a little too accepting of the douchery? Maybe we’re all being too polite and ladylike in the face of sexism and misogyny. I remember my mom always bristled at being called a lady. She preferred to be called a woman. When I asked her why, she said with a little contempt, “A lady does what she’s told.”

4. Post-Apocalyptic Pigs.

Back to the pigs. It’s not just the Thorn Birds. I have a brain forged by 80s media. The new Mad Max reminds me of how deeply scarred I was by the old Mad Max. It came on my angsty radar at the same time as “The Day After” aired on TV and No Nukes was the rock star cause du jour. As the world’s most gullible and fearful tween, the climate catastrophe that consumed my thinking then was nuclear winter, not global warming. Little has changed. I’m still easily prone to mixing up ‘sci-fi entertainment’ with ‘economic model of the future’…

Post-apocalyptic books and movies are so popular now, and they’re messing with my head. I read Station Eleven like it was a travel guide for the future. For those of you that don’t know, Station Eleven is the literary entry in the post-apocalypse canon with a traveling band of Shakespearean actors replacing the zombies (I said it was literary, right?). it’s a bleak view of the world after some random flu kills almost all of us and wipes out the grid. I seem to recall wild pigs in that one too. So I hear about wild pig issues in Texas, and I see a dark and scary future.

5. A Vegetarian Option?

When I’m not obsessing about pigs, I think about the millions of desperate refugees drifting around the world like cloud patterns. I was going to write about theRohingya muslims in particular, but this week’s letter has already been pretty debbie downer. So instead, may I recommend the cold cucumber soup I made in my Vitamix? It’s the smoothie that eats like lunch. I picked up the recipe while shopping at Trader Joe’s, which sounds so hopelessly suburban housewife, but fuck it. Try the soup.

6. “Sometimes I think a single sneeze could be the end of us.”

Courtney Barnett is my new favorite singer — that’s a line from her song “Dead Fox.” The chorus of that one is “If you don’t see me, I don’t see you.” Hmmm, sounds like the problem with the Internet?

Her songs don’t just flout conventional songwriting cliches, it’s as if she wasn’t aware the cliches ever existed. Like, she sings about the price of organic vegetables, gardening, and conversations with ambulance paramedics. Hay fever seems to be a theme. These are the kinds of thoughts that could be found inside the brain of me, a hopelessly suburban housewife, but she’s a fucking rock star selling out the Bowery Ballroom. So Fuck Yea! Cucumber soup and Courtney Barnett!
7. Thorn Birds Forever! That guy playing Jorah on Game of Thrones looks like dreamy Richard Chamberlain a little. Maybe that’s why he’s my favorite?

Until next week, my friends. Thanks for reading! And if you like it, forward it to your pals!

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