The new Philadelphia Phillies Triple-A team, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, will begin playing in 2008. Naturally, they need a mascot. So they decided on a big furry pig whose moniker would be PorkChop. Sounds delicious. Or so I thought.
It turns out that naming the mascot PorkChop wasn't appreciated by a few local Latinos who claimed that the name was offensive. Huh?
Yes, it turns out (at least according to Urban Dictionary) that pork chop is a racist term used to refer to people of Puerto Rican descent.
However, Dictionary.com also tells me that pork chop is "the flesh of hogs used as food."
I don't want to sound insensitive here, but this seems to be going a bit too far. This isn't flying the stars and bars over the state capital or somebody wearing blackface. It's naming a pig mascot after a popular cooked food.
What is interesting though is that the IronPigs immediately decided to change the name of the mascot to Ferrous - from the Latin word "ferrum," or iron. No Romans were angry about the name change as far as I know.
But more seriously, the IronPigs quick response is impressive, considering we have a number of teams out there, most notably the Redskins and Indians, who really should have had their names changed years ago - because their names are unambiguous terms directly used to demean a specific ethnicity. Plus Chief Wahoo is a ridiculous mascot.
How people can succeed so quickly in changing a benign name, but can't affect the same change with a truly offensive name, is a bit of an enigma.