Those of us who study animals know that there is a strong connection between the treatment and representation of animals and other forms of human discrimination. Carol Adams (The Sexual Politics of Meat) has profitably explored the relationship between sexism and animal use; Charles Patterson (Eternal Treblinka) and Boria Sax (Animals in the Third Reich) have pointed out the connection between industrial agriculture and the Holocaust; and Marjorie Spiegel (The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery) has looked at the connection between racism and animal use. And, of course, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle should not be forgotten.
It should thus come as no surprise that naming the outbreak of H1N1 ("the swine flu") has become an issue. (Remember, of course, H5N1 "asian bird flu," which is more often called "avian bird flu.") Earlier this week, Yakov Litzman, the deputy health minister of the Israeli said, "We will call it Mexican flu. We won't call it swine flu." A few days later, an "official" in the foreign ministry said, "Israel has no intention of given the flu any new names. It was nothing more than a slip of the tongue." And, of course, it wasn't in any way a slip of the tongue.
Update: The first mass cull - the entirety of the 300,000 pigs in Egypt is apparently underway, despite many epidemiologists saying that culls will do little to stop the spread of the flu because (1) it appears that the flu is not transferred through eating meat and (2) it has already jumped species. Epidemologists, rather, recommend 'increased surveillance and biosecurity measures' (see Reuters).