Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Caring for Pigs More Than for Humans

Reading Jonathan Tobin’s take on Scandinavian outrage with the Israeli ambassador to Norway, who dared compare the release of Palestinian murderers with letting Anders Breivik free, I was reminded of an odd news item which appeared only three days ago in a Swedish English-language local news outlet. The story, published in The Local on August 13, was headlined “Sweden demands mate for man’s lonely pig.”

The report, I kid you not, concerns a pig on a farm who has no friends to play with or partners to mate with. It is of course a fate that may befall many a creature, even more charming ones than this lonely Swedish hog. But in Sweden, it appears, it is the business of government to ensure that a pig, deemed as the article helpfully explains to be a social animal, is not raised alone–or lonely, so to speak.

And lest farmers hold the law in contempt, there are animal welfare inspectors at hand to ensure that a pig will get satisfaction–until it’s sausage season, at least.

That carries significant consequences for society–for when you have such regulations you must also have regulators, and all that jazz about pigs and their right to a friend ends up costing quite a bit of public money to implement. That fact raises the question of social priorities–which in turn helps explain why, when the Israeli ambassador sought to elicit empathy among his audience by asking how people would feel if Breivik were to be released, his listeners probably thought he came from another planet. Notice that they were not being asked to identify with Israel, just to understand at a human level what it means to see the murderer of your loved ones go free.

The ambassador’s listeners, who would probably sympathize with the pig’s plight and support active state intervention to cater to its needs, were at a loss to see why the victims of Anders Breivik inhabited the same moral category of the victims of Palestinian terrorists. His mistake–and ours, in so far as we continue to speak about common Western values in reference to certain segments of European society–was to plead for a common humanity, when in truth there is none left.

They care about pigs more than they care about Jews.


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