You’ve Got to Fight for Your Right to Bacon

With one edict, a college president in Texas (a rare place to find someone with a prohibitionist New York state of mind) has made PETA’s and the so-called Humane Society of the United States’ week. Citing students’ need to be “educated,” Paul Quinn College President Michael Sorrell banned pork from the school cafeterias. Yes, BLTs will be off the menu.

No, this isn’t a religious controversy about pork—as was the case many years ago at Brandeis University, a school with strong ties to the Jewish community. (Paul Quinn College is affiliated with a Protestant denomination.) According to Sorrell, eating pork causes “weight gain and obesity,” among a laundry list of maladies. But the evidence tying pork to obesity is nonexistent. According to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Americans eat less pork than we did 50 years ago. Sorrell would be hard-pressed to find any correlation to make his claims for cause carry any weight. Pork has calories like any other food, whether bread or beef or tofu, but it’s not uniquely fattening.

But that’s not the point. Sorrell said, “The reality of it is, it’s not as big of a deal as people make it out to be. You can be O.K. without pork. I think they’ll survive.” Putting aside the survivability of a life without bacon, here’s a hint: If you’re in the news, it’s a big deal. (That couldn’t be why he made the edict, no?) And people want their bacon and pork chops.

If history is any guide, this won’t go over well with students. Inside Higher Ed reports that when Bowdoin College mandated that its cafeterias follow the animal-rights dictated Meatless Mondays, students responded with protest barbecues. (An “animal rights BBQ” has a nice ring to it.) And when high schools in Texas banned sweets, one reporter called the result “Willy-Wonka-meets-Casablanca.” America had speakeasies in the 1920s; Texas students might now have their own “baconeasies.”

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