Jeff Rapley, a butcher in Narooma on the south coast of New South Wales recently put a sign in his window: “eating two strips of Rapley’s award winning bacon for breakfast reduces your chance of being a suicide bomber by 100%”.
Mr Rapley removed the sign when a customer complained, but not before a passer-by had taken a photo and posted it on social media, where it gained widespread attention. Many denounced Mr Rapley as an ignorant racist.
The controversy prompted by Mr Rapley’s action has raised the vexed issue of social stereotyping and I would like to add my voice to the debate. I would like to say once and for all in clear and stentorian tones: not all butchers are stupid!
Butchers get a bad rap. Many are seen as jovial, if not very bright fellows; good only for making inane, suggestive banter and laying a surreptitious hand on the scales. The very word ‘butcher’ carries with it unfortunate connotations. The Butcherbird was named for its habit of impaling prey, the better to eat or mount for display to potential mates.
Then there was the infamous “Butcher of Lyon”, Klaus Barbie, whose trial, in 1987, for crimes against humanity, offended honest tradesmen and confused little girls the world over. As for any little girl whose daddy was a butcher… one can only shake one’s head in despair.
A group can never be judged by an individual. Butchers are people, just like anyone else and each has a right to his or her own multi-faceted individuality. My own uncle Ted, was a butcher, but he eschewed the stereotype. True, he was a banterer par excellence, but he never laid a heavy hand upon the scales, and apart from the odd, inadvertent self-wound, the blood on his hands was never human. And he was smart too; smart enough in his pre-butchering days to perceive a demand for condoms in the conservative Republic of Ireland. On his many trips across the North Atlantic, he was able to meet this demand. Admittedly, he added a small percentage for his troubles, but as those troubles included strafing by the Luftwaffe and stalking by U-boats, few of his loyal clients objected.
And then of course, there is Mr Rapley, another defier of stereotype, a supremely intelligent man who has identified an important association between dietary habits and social pathology. Mr Rapley suggests that anyone with a proclivity for eating bacon is not the sort of person who will self-detonate in order to cause the deaths of his fellows. This is a point well-made. It has long been apparent to sensible people that vegetarians and vegans are a menace to society. They threaten to undermine the values that have made this country great. The agenda of these malcontents is nothing short of world domination and they will seize any means to promote their dark agenda. Before we know it, we, the citizens of a barbecue and beer-swilling free and tolerant society will, by home-grown, self-immolating vegans and vegetarians, be terrorised into choking down carrot juice, great slabs of tofu and forests of alfalfa.
I believe we owe Mr Rapley a debt of gratitude, for not only has he reminded us, albeit unintentionally, of the folly of judging the group by the individual, he has alerted us to the interface between diet and anti-social behaviour. His veiled warning against vegan/vegetarian terrorism is one that cannot be taken too seriously. It must never be forgotten that Hitler was a vegetarian. It is incumbent upon us, as a society, to deal with these subversives.
My suggestion is that, relying on informers, the government identify vegans and vegetarians, and require them to wear some sort of symbol, affixed to their clothing, to denote their affiliation: a head of broccoli perhaps, or a square of tofu. The next step would be to concentrate them in camps where they can gorge themselves on their revolting kohl rabi and Brussel sprouts and blow themselves up to their heart’s content.