Oxford University Press, the university's publishing arm, is the largest university publisher in the world. It published, for example, the great Oxford English Dictionary.
Well, the folks who run the Oxford University Press have now decreed that schoolbooks and children's books they publish cannot talk about pigs or pork products:
Schoolbook authors have been told not to write about sausages or pigs for fear of causing offence. Guidance from leading educational publisher the Oxford University Press prohibits authors from including anything that could be perceived as pork-related in their books. The bizarre clampdown, apparently aimed at avoiding offence among Jews and Muslims, emerged yesterday during a discussion about free speech on Radio 4’s Today programme. Oxford University Press bans sausages and pigs from children’s books in effort 'to avoid offence': Bizarre clampdown branded 'nonsensical political correctness' Katie Strick and Ben Wilkinson, Daily Mail, January 13, 2015The evidence?
Presenter Jim Naughtie – whose writer wife Eleanor Updale is in talks with Oxford University Press (OUP) over an educational book series – said: ‘I've got a letter here that was sent out by OUP to an author doing something for young people. ‘Among the things prohibited in the text that was commissioned by OUP was the following: Pigs plus sausages, or anything else which could be perceived as pork. ‘Now, 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.'As a matter of fact, English culture has a rich tradition of nursery rhymes and stories about pigs, including "The Three Little Pigs", Winnie the Pooh's buddy Piglet, and the old poem about the five pigs which utilizes the child's five toes. So why would pigs be excluded from future works?
The OUP says its guidelines exist because it needs to make its educational material available to as many people as possible.
A spokesman said: ‘Many of the educational materials we publish in the UK are sold in more than 150 countries, and as such they need to consider a range of cultural differences and sensitivities.
'Our editorial guidelines are intended to help ensure that the resources that we produce can be disseminated to the widest possible audience.’
So our own cultural heritage must be discarded so that Oxford University Press might make big money selling to cultures that don't appreciate pigs like our culture does.
Then again, they may not be as offended as the Oxford University Press people think. The article quoted a Muslim spokesman and a Jewish spokesman who think it's going too far.
Muslim Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said: ‘I absolutely agree. That’s absolute utter nonsense. And when people go too far, that brings the whole discussion into disrepute.’
When I was in Iraq in 2005, I abstained from pork when I ate with Muslims of the Iraqi military. It's common courtesy. But that's not the same as pretending pigs don't exist. That's just ridiculous.
A spokesman for the Jewish Leadership Council added: ‘Jewish law prohibits eating pork, not the mention of the word, or the animal from which it derives.