In Idaho, South Fork Industries appears to have found a way to turn Islamophobia into a windfall. The ammunition manufacturer is selling a new line of pork-laced bullets that they say will keep Muslim terrorists from entering heaven. However, the theory that these “Jihawg Ammo” bullets are “haram” and thus a barrier to heaven is contested by actual Islamic scholars. If true, could the company be sued for false advertising or does such a claim require proof of a divinely excluded terrorist who was shot by an unclean bullet? The website calls it “Peace Through Pork.”
We previously explored the uncertain line of false advertising in religious marketing in connection with ChristianMingle. However, rather than promising to find God’s choice for your mate, this company suggests killing people in a way to exclude someone from heaven. It is a difficult claim to refute in standard discovery.
The company insists that the product is a “peaceful and natural deterrent to radical Islam.” It adds “With Jihawg Ammo, you don’t just kill an Islamist terrorist, you also send him to hell. That should give would-be martyrs something to think about before they launch an attack. If it ever becomes necessary to defend yourself and those around you our ammo works on two levels.”
However, Shannon Dunn, assistant professor of religious studies at Gonzaga University, says that “There is no penalty for coming into contact with pork given by the Quran.” Thus, Professor Dunn insists that “Muslims, especially unknowingly, would not be banned from heaven for eating or getting hit by pork.”
The product actually presents an interesting twist on the Idaho false advertising statute:
IDAHO FOOD, DRUG AND COSMETIC ACT
37-131. False advertising. (a) An advertisement of a food, drug, device, or cosmetic shall be deemed to be false if it is false or misleading in any particular.
(b) For the purpose of this act the advertisement of a drug or device representing it to have any effect in albuminuria, appendicitis, arteriosclerosis, blood poison, bone disease, Bright’s disease, cancer, carbuncles, cholecytitis, diabetes, diptheria [diphtheria], dropsy, erysipelas, gallstones, heart and vascular diseases, high blood pressure, mastoiditis, measles, meningitis, mumps, nephritis, otitis media, paralysis, pneumonia, poliomyelitis (infantile paralysis), prostate gland disorders, pyelitis, scarlet fever, sexual impotence, sinus infection, smallpox, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, uremia, venereal disease, shall also be deemed to be false, except that no advertisement not in violation of subsection (a) shall be deemed to be false under this subsection if it is disseminated only to members of the medical, osteopathic, chiropodial, dental, or veterinary professions, or appears only in the scientific periodicals of these professions, or is disseminated only for the purpose of public-health education by persons not commercially interested, directly or indirectly, in the sale of such drugs or devices: Provided, that whenever the board determines that an advance in medical science has made any type of self-medication safe as to any of the diseases named above, the board shall by regulation authorize the advertisement of drugs having curative or therapeutic effect for such disease, subject to such conditions and restrictions as the board may deem necessary in the interests of public health: Provided, that this subsection shall not be construed as indicating that self-medication for diseases other than those named herein is safe or efficacious.
This is a device offered on a claim of “blood poisoning” though it is not a device offered for a “curative or therapeutic effect” but quite the opposite.
Can a false claim of a religion be the basis for a false advertising claim? The company can claim that this is more of a parody or joke product and an exercise of free speech. This free speech however, is a rather lethal, hate-infused message.