The Corner

Oxford University Press: Authors Shouldn’t Talk about Pork In Case They Offend Others

Per the BBC, Oxford University Press has instructed its authors to refrain from mentioning . . . pork. The International Business Times reports:

One of the biggest education publishers in the world has warned its authors not to mention pigs or sausages in their books to avoid causing offence.

Oxford University Press (OUP) said all books must take into consideration other cultures if they hope to sell copies in countries across the world.

As a result, the academic publisher has issued guidance advising writers to avoid mentioning pigs or “anything else which could be perceived as pork” so as not to offend Muslim or Jewish people.

The move was revealed during a discussion on free speech during BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in the wake of the attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hedbo and its decision to use an image of the Prophet Mohammed on the cover of its latest issue.

This is nothing more or less than an institution’s permitting the violent threats of the illiberal to impose thought control on the free. Worse, perhaps: this is forbiddance of the most petty, minor, craven sort. If those utilizing the publishing house of Britain’s oldest university cannot mention a basic food product for fear of offending the inordinately silly, how on earth are they supposed to tackle the larger questions of race, religion, love, poverty, sex, war, and politics? What chance do they have investigating belief systems and ideas? How might they go about debating subjects that really matter? All told, the popular claim “I’m offended” represents nothing more than a meaningless piece of cowardly self-indulgence. That Oxford University is so much as considering entertaining it is a disgrace.

Oddly enough, the usual bastions of political correctness and self-censorship are flatly opposed to the idea. Reacting to the news, the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s today program argued that:

if a respectable publisher, tied to an academic institution, is saying you’ve got to write a book in which you cannot mention pigs because some people might be offended, it’s just ludicrous. It is just a joke.

Even members of the Labour Party agree:

The guidance issue was also condemned as “ludicrous” by Muslim Labour MP Khalid Mahmood.

He added: “That’s absolute, utter nonsense and when people go too far that actually brings the whole discussion into disrepute.”

Alas, Oxford University Press remains unmoved:

An OUP spokesperson said: “Our materials are sold in nearly 200 countries, and as such, and without compromising our commitment in any way, we encourage some authors of educational materials respectfully to consider cultural differences and sensitivities.

Great nations don’t die, they commit suicide.

UPDATE: It has been pointed out to me that this decision only affect children’s books. Still silly as hell, but I suppose it doesn’t affect academic publications as the piece I linked to implies. I suppose this is the beginning of a long goodbye to good old Peppa Pig.


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