The back-to-back mass shootings over the past weekend have, as they always do, reignited a fierce debate about gun control in the United States. On the one hand, assault weapons have the power to cut down dozens of lives in a matter of seconds. On the other hand, what if there are dozens of wild animals attacking your children?
This was the question posed by a Twitter user named William McNabb, replying to musician Jason Isbell, who tweeted out an endorsement of banning assault weapons. “Legit question for rural Americans,” McNabb asked, “How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?”
I’ll be honest: You got me there, Willie. I do not know how to quickly dispatch the hog hordes invading your yard other than by using assault weapons and/or carefully placed explosives.
The hog menace is not as ridiculous as it initially sounded to me (an urban elitist who has never, to his knowledge, encountered a single feral hog). The USDA estimates that feral hogs — whose population is concentrated mostly in the South and California — cause $1.5 billion in damage every year. A Missouri journalist told the Guardian, “They are actually a huge problem, both on private property and public lands. They live in groups (called sounders) of up to 60 hogs. They are very harmful for farmers because when they eat, they upturn the ground to get things out.” In 2017, the Texas legislature passed House Bill 3535, which allows Texans to hunt hogs from a hot-air balloon.
So: Hogs are apparently no joke. Except, well, the concept of “30-50 feral hogs” has sort of become a joke online. It has less to do with the specifics of the claim and more with the abstract “cellar door”–like quality of this string of syllables. It’s “they did surgery on a grape all over again.”
That’s pretty much all you need to know about the hog joke. Next time you see 30–50 feral hogs in your yard, you know what to do: Tweet memes at them until they run away.