School textbooks may no longer refer to pigs or sausages, according to a ban imposed by a top publisher who was wary of offending Muslims and Jews. “Guidance,” which is published by Oxford University Press (OUP), tells writers to avoid using words such as “pig” and “sausage” as well as any other word that could be related to these two. This ridiculous move by Oxford University Press has been dismissed as a joke by critics, including Muslims and Jews. However, the publisher clarified that the ban is in keeping with the standard guidelines abided by all international publishers.
Oxford University Press’ clampdown was revealed by BBC radio presenter Jim Naughtie on his January 14 program, where he chose to discuss the censorship that has followed the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
Naughtie’s wife, the author Updale, is apparently in talks with Oxford University Press over a series of educational books.
“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,” said Naughtie.
Renowned Muslims and Jews criticized the publisher’s guidelines, saying even though their respective scriptures prohibit the consuming of pork, they do not prohibit any references to it.
Muslim Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said, “I absolutely agree [with Mr Naughtie]. That’s absolute utter nonsense. And when people go too far, that brings the whole discussion into disrepute.”
Similarly, a spokesperson for the Jewish Leadership Council said, “Jewish law prohibits eating pork, not the mention of the word, or the animal from which it derives.”
Oxford University Press clarified in a statement that their commitment towards educational and academic excellence is absolute.
“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. Guidelines for our educational materials differ between geographies and do not cover our academic publishing,” read the statement.
According to the spokesperson of the publisher, Oxford University Press’ ban is in keeping with the standardized PARSNIP guidelines followed by all international publishers to ensure no audience in the world is offended. Apart from pig and sausage, PARSNIP tells writers to avoid writing about alcohol, politics, religion, narcotics, sex and -isms including communism and atheism.
Obviously, these guidelines have been criticized in the past, after being labeled as unethical and anti-progressive by philosopher and professor John Gray.
Photo Credits: Mirror Online