Even Mascots Must Be Politically Correct

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs didn't see this one coming. Few people did. After announcing that their mascot would be named Pork Chop, they had to pick again and come up with a new name for the friendly little porker.

I gotta admit. Maybe I'm naive or maybe I just don't get it, or something. I should preface all of this by saying that I live and grew up in the Lehigh Valley, just about a 10 or 15 minute ride from where the Lehigh Valley IronPigs will play ball starting next April. That being said, when I heard that the 'Pigs had to change the name of their mascot from Pork Chop to Ferrous because they had received complaints, I truly, honestly thought that vegetarians had complained. I swear to God. Only later did I find out that it was actually Latino members of the community that had voiced concern over the name and I wondered why. After some thought, it did eventually come back to me that as a child, I did hear the term Pork Chop thrown around as a derogatory name for Hispanics. In fact, I remember my father telling me that I was never to use that term for another person and I had completely forgotten the slang use of the phrase.

Maybe I'm not the most sensitive of people - my wife would tell you a few incidents of my insensitivity - but come on. Does anybody really think that the term Pork Chop was going to recall a stupid slang use of that phrase? After all, it was the name of a freakin' pig. I could see the cause for concern if they were coming up with that name for some completely unrelated mascot or something, but it's a PIG! We get Pork Chops from PIGS; get it?

By the way, I'm not looking to criticize the IronPigs for changing the name. By all accounts, there were pretty many calls about the decision and they certainly don't need any bad press and they're a good bunch of people not looking to offend anyone. They probably had to make the change, even though they took some heat over that as well. Had they not made the change, there could have been the threat of protests at games and it all could have turned very ugly and before long, the poor pig would have had to have its own security detail and we don't need that.

There is some need for political correctness. It helps reel us in when we tend to get a tad too insensitive to others. I get that. After all, I'd rather be called an obese, folically challenged person than a fat, bald guy. Although, I have to admit that I've been called a fat, bald guy and it hasn't sent me into any deep, dark depression. There is a difference though. Nobody in this situation was coming close to using the term in a derogatory way. If Pork Chop is now derogatory, I know a bunch of grocery stores and butchers that need to be labeled politically incorrect, if not racist. In fact, somewhat ironically, I had Pork Chops for dinner the night that this whole thing erupted and they were good. And, I never once thought about Latinos or any other group of people - especially the vegetarians - while I was enjoying them.

The funny thing is that the new name - Ferrous - is probably a better name. Pork Chop was too easy and seemed a little weak. Ferrous is interesting and makes sense. For those that maybe didn't do too well in chemistry or science, Ferrous is a term commonly used to describe something composed of iron. For example, a pig made of iron - an IronPig - would be ferrous. It goes nicely with the creative choice of uniform number for the little porker, 26, which is the atomic number for iron. And, I've officially done an internet search and found no hint of the word ferrous being used in a derogatory way toward any group of people. I was worried about the Heavy Metal music contingent, but I think we're okay.

Anyway, anyone who was offended by the original choice of names can now sleep much better. And kudos to the vegetarians for not getting up in arms as I feared they had.



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