Pig faces censored in Malaysian edition of New York Times


I’m fascinated by whatever logic would lead to the censorship of pig faces rather than the entire animals.

Because these are still very much recognizable as images of pigs. And I fail to grasp any value in preventing people from being able to identify specific pigs by their faces, were that even possible/likely.


Does somebody not quite understand how implementing a dietary taboo works?


This seems overzealous and frankly kind of dumb, but the people who might be offended at this are by definition overzealous and occasionally murderous. The editor probably figures he’s better safe than sorry.


Why? Because they’re muslims?


Malaysia is interesting when it comes to dietary strictures. They are one of the only Muslim country that does DNA testing on all imported food to ensure it does not contain porcine DNA. They take it very seriously. Censorship is always stupid, and this is exactly the kind of self-censorship that people engage in when censorship laws are in place. I doubt that all pictures of pigs are forbidden in Malaysia, but I won’t say I’m certain. But hey some people think pigs are gross, all kosherisms aside. If the NYT wouldn’t go out of its way to depict particularly gory war photos, it amounts to editorial decision. I consider this to be similar. I’m more concerned about the other things that get actively censored. I’m not too worried about Porky being robbed of his worldwide fifteen minutes.

Mmm, bacon.


Who else would be offended by this other than overzealous, extremist Jews and Muslims, and I haven’t read about any Jews beheading anyone lately.


Because they are extremists.

Newspaper offices are ripe targets for these kinds of attacks.

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Somebody should tell them about Influenza… viral porcine particles just flying through the air, ready to splice forbidden DNA into your very genome at any moment…


Malaysia isn’t yet extremist. It still purports to be multi-cultural, but the indigenous Malay population have been steadily reducing the influence of all other sectors of society.

Being a newspaperman in Malaysia is regarded as either a sap’s paycheck, or a very dangerous profession, depending on how you go about it.

You’re more likely to get done in by the local car thief ring than the political / cultural / religious police. It’s one of those places you pay attention to what the guidebooks politely tell you not to do. It’s not really worth stirring up trouble, or talking politics.

But you can happily get cold beer just about anywhere. Pork is available everywhere non-muslim. But there is concomitant push by the muslims for a more ‘proper’ muslim society - I think it has more to do with trade opportunities than religion per se. They’re rich on oil.

Edit: by the way, the food’s gorgeous. Great way to get chatting to Malaysians is to talk about their favourite food.


“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
Hanlon’s razor

Stupid like confusing dietary strictures with displaying pictures of forbidden food.

and that what peregrinus_bis said: Malaysia isn’t Iran or Afghanistan.

The whole country doesn’t have to be extremist to have extremists living in it. It only takes one asshole with a bomb to destroy your newspaper offices and possibly kill your staff. Normally this is very unlikely, but these guys have shown a willingness to do it in the past, so I can’t blame a newspaper for not taking any chances.

You can bet there are lots of stories the paper won’t run because of just a few people willing to kill for perceived slights to their worldview.

That’s EVIL. . . spread rumors that the most extreme extremists are infected with SWINE FLU. . . . let the usual turn of events follow. . .

Friend of mine is married to a Malaysian. His experiences mirror your account. I’ll get more data this summer, they’re coming over to visit. . .

Malaysia’s government occasionally imposes laws that are allegedly defending Muslim religion. A year or two ago there were some riots because Christians were using the term “Allah” to refer to God, the Muslims were upset, the government banned anybody from using that term except Muslims. But Allah isn’t a proper name; it’s just the Arabic word for God (or maybe The God; I’m not sure the grammar), cognate to the Hebrew word El, and Islam teaches that it worships the same god that Abraham worshipped, and that they’ve just got some new information about him from Muhammad and the Christians are wrong about some details. So it would have been more correct Islamic theology to require Christians to use the term “Allah” than to forbid it.

But hey, extremists gotta extreme.


[quote=“Salgak, post:14, topic:20300, full:true”]
That’s EVIL. . . spread rumors that the most extreme extremists are infected with SWINE FLU. . . . let the usual turn of events follow. . .
That seems a bit harsh (though quite possibly true, even flu we don’t get worked up about probably has some piggy elements, just because the virus has been largely cross-compatible between humans and pigs since who-knows-how-long-ago); but I admit that I’d laugh.

My comment was more aimed at the absurdity of applying modern genomic techniques to ancient dietary taboos. I respect people’s right to eat or not eat as they prefer (and, myself, certainly have a distaste for assorted organ meats that plenty of other people eat with enthusiasm, so I’m not getting all high-and-mighty-look-at-those-primitives here); but if you start down the science path, prepare to learn some fascinating things about the porosity of the barriers between genomes… If you want your ritual, have your ritual; but horizontal gene transfer by microbes we can barely keep out of high end operating rooms and chip fabs, or get rid of with flamethrowers, are probably making a mockery of your categories as we speak…

What good is being a member of the in-group if those filthy abhumans from the out-group might get mistaken for in-group members? It’s appalling!

I’m merely amused by the whole situation. I checked with three separate Muslim buddies and a Muslim cow-orker, and all agree that the Qu’ran commands not to EAT pigs, they are unclean. But the bit about images comes from a prohibition on GRAVEN images, and since they are merely depicting pigs, and not venerating or worshiping them, that isn’t in effect either. Someone is obviously getting carried away QUITE a bit. . . .

Pigs? Is that what those things are??

Without BB’s investigative journalism I would have never realised!

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