Oxford University Press (OUP) is the largest university press in the world. Founded in 1480, OUP is the second-oldest university press, after that of Cambridge University Press. A department of the University of Oxford, OUP is governed by the Delegates of the Press — a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor.
Given Oxford University Press’ prestige, it is all the more significant that the Press has seen fit to muzzle itself by banning all mention of pigs and pork from its children’s and school books, so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of Muslims.
Katie Strick and Ben Wilkinson report for The Daily Mail that during a discussion about free speech and censorship following the Charlie Hebdo massacre, on the BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program on Jan. 12, 2015, the program’s presenter James Naughtie – whose writer wife Eleanor Updale is in talks with 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.”
Of course, we know that the religious groups that ban the eating of pork are Judaism and Islam. However, since OUP’s policy banning pigs and pork is only recently instituted, one can assume that Muslims, not Jews, are the people whom the
politically-correct spineless OUP Delegates of the Press fear offending. Indeed, a spokesman for the Jewish Leadership Council said: “Jewish law prohibits eating pork, not the mention of the word, or the animal from which it derives.”
Ironically, OUP’s asinine policy has already earned a denunciation from a prominent Muslim, UK Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, who calls the policy “absolute utter nonsense.”
There is no mention of the non-pig/pork policy on Oxford University Press’ writers’ guidelines web page.
The Daily Mail claims 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.”
But Nicole Mortillaro reports for Global News that following media reports on OUP’s pig/pork banning, the Press issued a statement denying the allegations in a comment piece for The Guardian titled “No, we haven’t banned books on pigs — but sensitivity is key in global publishing.” OUP’s primary publishing director Jane Harley wrote:
“In the UK, we take it for granted that we would not include references to sex, violence, or alcohol in our textbooks; to do so would be considered inappropriate and offensive to many. In order to make an impact around the world, there are other sensitivities that, although not necessarily obvious to some of us, are nonetheless extremely important to others.”
Harley’s statement is a crafty effort at double-speak. No where did she explicitly deny that OUP bans pig and pork from its children’s books.
Westerners like the pusillanimous Oxford University Press imagine that they can purchase peace by appeasing Muslims. On the contrary, simpering cowardice has never stopped bullies. They just get emboldened and even more grandiose and bellicose.
Dr. Eowyn’s post first appeared at Fellowship of the Minds.