Among the things prohibited

Speaking of sausages, and outrage, and women seen cooking sausages on tv, and outrage, and outrage, and outrage, the Oxford University Press has given one of its authors a friendly nudge to avoid writing the words “pig” or “pork” in a projected book.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, presenter Jim Naughtie 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.”

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.”

No pigs in a children’s book. So the whole “Freddy” series is retroactively haram. So is Charlotte’s Web. So are the Porky Pig cartoons.

A spokesman for OUP said: “OUP’s commitment to its mission of academic and educational 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.”

Well you can’t do both of those things. Saying “without compromising our commitment in any way” doesn’t change that, in fact it just adds a layer of calculated bullshit. You are compromising your commitment to your mission of academic and educational excellence if you rule out mention of a familiar animal in children’s books because some religions long ago considered them Specially Dirty or some such crap.

Many Muslims also consider dogs Specially Dirty, you know. Should authors of children’s books stop mentioning dogs, too? Should everyone? No more dogs in stories and movies and tv? Everybody forget all about dogs from here on out?

Get a grip.


  1. karmacat says

    I meant all so bizarre. I’m watching tom and jerry cartoons with my son so my focus is off. I wonder what these people would do with a tome and jerry cartoon

  2. anat says

    There was a time when translators of children’s literature into Hebrew danced around the pork issue. But TMK only in the context of food. So ham sandwiches either became turkey sandwiches or some generic lunchmeat, but porcine characters were left intact.

  3. sailor1031 says

    “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.

    This is completely at odds with the statement of that nice lady from OUP who said they were just being sensitive and not letting cultural taboos prevent the educational message from being received by the intended readership. Someone’s telling porkies; I wonder who could it be?

    Of course OUP is quite correct. Sausages are a cultural minefield. I mean how many sausages (wieners, franks, dogs, etc) are to be written about if the rules are relaxed. Maybe even Walls’ sausages – and who knows what’s in those? chicken beaks and toenails from what I’ve heard!
    Think of the outrage in Hindutva about all these sausages that contain beef. How about my outrage as a vegetarian over my beloved soy beans being made into “textured soy protein sausages”? Or mycoprotein sausages? or, Saturn forbid, sausages made of donkey meat? Indeed, once you allow the camel’s nose under the tent flap it’ll only be a question of a very short time before we’ll be reading about camel sausages…..No, I say, NO, NO….

  4. Blanche Quizno says

    A good thing I don’t write for them. Imagine the difficulty of coming up with an appropriate synonym for “libidinous swine”!

  5. Al Dente says

    gedjcj @6

    These are the two paragraphs in OUP’s statement that are most pertinent:

    While we should be mindful of these cultural sensitivities, a healthy dose of common sense is also required. Cultural taboos must never get in the way of learning needs, which will always be our primary focus. So, for example, a definition of a pig would not be excluded from a dictionary, and we wouldn’t dream of editing out a “pig” character from an historical work of fiction. We also maintain entirely separate guidelines for our academic titles which are relevant to scholarly rather than educational discourse.

    What we do, however, is consider avoiding references to a range of topics that could be considered sensitive – in a way that does not compromise quality, or negatively impact learning. So, for example, if animals are depicted shown in a background illustration, we would think carefully about which animals to choose. In doing so we are able to ensure children remain focused purely on their learning, rather than cultural characteristics.

    They would censor pigs out of a children’s book.

  6. =8)-DX says

    Don’t some cultures eat dogs? Just imagine a kids book with dogmeat in it.. ok that would actually be kind of cool.

  7. sumdum says

    Not only is this problematic in regards to freedom of speech, it also paints muslims as short tempered, easily offended people. Basically the exact same stereotype the right wing has of them but coming from the left, which is ironic. It treats muslims as children who can’t be held accountable for their actions and that is condescending.

  8. John Morales says

    sumdum @12:

    Not only is this problematic in regards to freedom of speech, it also paints muslims as short tempered, easily offended people.

    The “easily offended” part seems plausible, but I see no reason to include “short tempered”, and so I think that part of your claim is without warrant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *