Thursday, October 06, 2011

Eliminating pork in Ohio prisons - a violation of 'separation of church and state'?

No, we're not talking about unnecessary spending to gain gain votes - this post is about pork - the other white meat, as their advertising calls it.

You see, in response to a lawsuit filed my a Muslim inmate, Ohio has decided to eliminate all pork products in their prisons. Interestingly, pork isn't even mentioned in the lawsuit which is insisting that all non-pork meats for Muslims come from animals slaughtered according to Islamic law. Ohio prisons already provide pre-packaged meals for Jewish inmates.

Death row inmate Abdul Awkal, the plaintiff in the suit, has said that non-pork and vegetarian options available in the prisons are not enough - that the meat that is served needs to be prepared in a manner proscribed by his religion (the throat of the animal needs to be slit and the blood drained).

Obviously, Ohio's pork producers are not happy. Pork was taken off the menus in 2009, but was added back last year. Pork rib patties are on the menu about once a week. Pork producers say that pork is a less expensive meat and thus saves the state money. The Ohio Pork Producers Council weighed in:

"We really think it's not in the best interest, frankly, of the whole prison system," said Dick Isler, executive director of the Ohio Pork Producers Council. "It seems like we're letting a small group make the rules when it really isn't in the best interest of the rest of prisoners."

This doesn't make sense to me. Why eliminate all pork from the menu if pre-packaged halal meals are available? If they can provide such meals for Jewish inmates, why not do the same for Muslim inmates?

The response of the state seems to be overkill and I don't know why this even ended up as a lawsuit in the first place. The state probably will lose the lawsuit considering the accommodations they've made for the eating requirements of those who follow the Jewish faith.

But are they risking a bigger problem by the elimination of pork altogether?

Is it not possible that pork-loving inmates could sue over the elimination of pork and claim that the state has violated the 'separation of church and state'? (the term is in quotes for a reason) If the display of the Ten Commandments is a violation of 'separation of church and state,' is not the insistence that all inmates not eat pork because of Muslim mandates not also a violation? Is the state not forcing non-Muslims to comply with the Muslim ban on pork? Are they 'inflicting' portions of the Muslim faith on non-Muslims?

After all, non-Muslims should not be infringed upon simply because of one inmate's religious beliefs. If even one non-Muslim inmate is offended... This just can't stand, right?

Of course I'm being sarcastic. But this is the same logic used so often to oppose anything that can even remotely be considered religious in public places - especially if the religious perspective is Christian. I just wonder how long it will be before we see consistency in the application of such logic.

If Jewish and halal pre-packaged meals are available, then offer them on the day that the pork rib patties are served. Problem solved - and Ohio saves the cost of a lawsuit.


The Frizzy Hooker said...

As always - I love your blog!!!

Maggie said...


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