The censorship spreads: Oxford University Press bans mention of pork and pigs, and more cowardice from Sky News

January 15, 2015 • 10:00 am

Just when you thought that Western self-censorship exercised to avoid Muslim wrath couldn’t get any dumber, it has. The International Business Times reports that the prestigious and powerful Oxford University Press (“OUP,” publisher of the UK edition of WEIT!), has put out a notice to its employees and authors that OUP books considered “educational materials” will henceforth not mention pigs or pork. The reason, of course, is clear.  As far as I can gather, the ban applies to materials aimed at young people. From the IBT report:

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.

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.

Here’s OUP’s pathetic justification:

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.

“Guidelines for our educational materials differ between geographies and do not cover our academic publishing.”

Yeah, right. This is, of course, just a big fat euphemism for this: “We don’t want to piss off the Muslims lest they attack the Press.”

What makes it even more embarrassing for OUP is that some Muslim and Jewish leaders have pronounced the ban ridiculous. Here’s a dryly sarcastic response from a Jewish organization:

A spokesperson for the Jewish Leadership Council added: “Jewish law prohibits eating pork, not the mention of the word, or the animal from which it derives.”

And the Torygraph reports a similar reaction from a Muslim, reacting to BBC presenter Naughtie’s characterization of the ban as 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.”

Indeed. This is just as bad as HarperCollins’s and The Economists decision to publish maps of the Middle East leaving out Israel. Worse even, for an academic publisher should be committed, as far as possible, to free expression. It’s sobering and sad to contemplate that OUP’s new regulations would prohibit it from publishing Orwell’s book Animal Farm because it included the pigs Squealer and Napoleon, or the children’s classic Charlotte’s Web that featured the porcine Wilbur.

It seems to me, and I may be wrong, that most of the cowardice about publishing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, or anything that might inflame Muslims, comes from the UK. Want more evidence? Here’s Sky news presenter Dharshini David cutting off an eloquent and distressed Caroline Fourest, a contributor to Charlie Hebo, when Fourest tried to show the latest cover of the magazine on television. David then apologizes to any viewers offended by the image!

What craven cowardice! It’s time for Brits to call out their media for this kind of nonsense.

UPDATE: Reader Florian also noted that, in its report on sales of the New Charlie Hebdo, the American outlet NBC news also wouldn’t show the cover. Florian wrote me this along with sending the video link above:

I wonder if you noticed that NBC in reporting on the new Charlie Hebdo edition would not show the cover in last night’s newscast? The reporter holds a folded copy only showing the magazine name and they show a bundle of magazines but with a label covering the image. I emailed both my local NBC affiliate and the corporate contact address ( and called them cowards.

I listen to the NBC news and would have noticed this, but last night I was out to dinner.

h/t: Peter Boghossian

150 thoughts on “The censorship spreads: Oxford University Press bans mention of pork and pigs, and more cowardice from Sky News

      1. I am actually reading Animal Farm right now and plan on reading 1984 right after. I thought it quite odd that Orwell would carry over those characters to another novel, but it all makes sense now.

        1. I can imagine Animal Farm being banned in all sorts of jurisdictions for many, many reasons other than mention of pigs.

          “All animals are equal – but some are more equal than others” is my favourite line.

      2. Technically, 1984 would get the boot as well, since the broadcasts include statistics on the production of pig iron. 🙂

  1. I was surprised to see it shown in the Omaha paper. I guess Mr. Buffet has no problem with it.

    Also, wonder if I, living in the number one pork producing place in the world should be offended…..

  2. I suppose I shouldn’t mention, then, that today’s breakfast was a couple strips of bacon, a blueberry-maple sausage patty, some fresh veggies (carrot, celery, radish), and a grapefruit picked this morning from the tree in the back yard.

    Idle curiosity…how is it that, for example, a children’s book on either kashrut or halal is supposed to indicate that pigs are treif / haram?


      1. Can we censor those books now?

        (No, of course not — that’s the last thing I’d want. Best way to create an atheist amongst the typical Western believers is to get them to actually sit down and read those horrid examples of vitriol cover-to-cover.)


    1. Given the weather recently in Chicago, I think your post should be censored. Or please show some mercy to the frozen masses.

      “… a grapefruit picked this morning from the tree in the back yard.” You are just showing off.

      1. Well, it was quite a bit cold and damp when I went outside in the pre-dawn hour to pick it. Gave my bare feet quite a chill! And it’s still only just barely above 60°F right now…probably won’t be until lunchtime that I can open up the windows and air out the place.


    2. That was my thought too – how can you ban something if you can’t mention it? I guess they won’t be producing any more copies of the Bible or Qur’an for children. And I wonder if the guidelines include cattle/beef – they sell to Hindus too. And they better not mention doctors or hospitals in case a religion that relies on prayer for healthcare is offended. The list is endless.

      OUP is aiding and abetting in the brainwashing of children for the sake of profit imo.

      1. how can you ban something if you can’t mention it?

        The bible is always the exception. Is this that surprising? They want to ban books from schools that discuss sex or rape…but not the bible. They want to ban books from schools that discuss race and discrimination…but not the bible. And so on.

      2. You beat me to it regarding cattle! And maybe d*gs shouldn’t be mentioned either since they are considered unclean! Also shellfish are not Kosher. So maybe don’t mention any food or any animals?

  3. “I listen to the NBC news and would have noticed this, but last night I was out to dinner.”

    Please don’t mention what people ate. It might offend.

    1. I had wild boar over spaghetti Tuesday night. The Jew, Muslim or Pastafarian who gives a hootie-tootie one way or the other exists only in the imaginations of OUP censors.

      1. Love braised wild boar. Have some in my freezer at the moment.
        When I moved to Canuckland in the late 70s there was a silly advertising jingle:
        Put Pork on your Fork.

        1. The one I had was slow-cooked 3-1/2 hours, in the style of Bergamo, Italy.

          A gourmet hot dog place (um, California much?) by me has a vintage southern BBQ sign on the wall with a little chef pig saying “If you dig swine, try some of mine!” Cute!

          1. I first had wild boar with gnocchi at a local Mediterranean resturant called Paradiso. It was heavenly. Then I found some frozen boar at the downtown Toronto St. Lawrence Mkt, and they gave me a recipe which turned out quite similar to Paradiso’s and which I make in my slow cooker. IIRC it has red wine in it and some stock, but not a whole lot of other ingredients. The boar is very flavorful on its own, and very tender.

            Maybe I mentioned this before, but when I was flying home from Colorado in October I sat next to a young guy from Penn who had a whole deep deep frozen wild boar (in pieces, I presume) in a duffel bag under the seat in front of him. He and his dad had been hunting near Grand Junction. Might have begged a piece off him, but not sure how that would have worked going through Canuck customs.

            1. Quality ingredients well-prepared.

              Typical commercial hotdogs are going to be a random mishmash of the leftover sludge from processing factory-farmed chicken, beef, and pork, all of which will have been bought from the lowest bidder. And they’re prepared in huge vats with ingredients measured by the tens of kilograms.

              The franks I just bought yesterday afternoon from Best of Europe Meats and Deli at 32nd and Greenway in Phoenix are single-animal all-beef sausages handmade in small batches using a recipe favored by the recent Polish immigrant who started the business.

              The one is presumed non-toxic in infrequent small doses. The other is damned good eating.



            2. It has the word “gourmet” in front of the name, and an extra “1” in front of the price. Other than that, I’m not sure, maybe organic and locally-sourced byproducts and rat hairs?

        2. ‘Get some pork on your fork’ is still current on Australian TV ads.

          There are also some more risqué ones based on double entendre of the transitive verb ‘to pork’: here, it usually means ‘to copulate with’, but the ads create an alternate sense ‘to serve porcine meat products to’.

  4. Time to burn copies of Charlotte’s Web. Oh wait, that might smell like bacon, so we can’t because that’s offensive. I’m so confused!

  5. No depictions of pigs at all? It almost sounds like a satire. The Little People not only can’t handle the truth about God, they can’t even handle real life. They’ve turned into advocates of alternative reality raging against Big Farm.

    Somehow people are supposed to be able to handle two ideas:

    1.) Religion is true, God exists, we can know what He wants of us, and obeying Him is the entire purpose and meaning of existence. This is the most important fact in the world, for the world and for all people, everywhere and forever.

    2.) Keep this knowledge private and confined to your own community. It’s not a general fact so don’t behave like it is.

    It just won’t work. That doesn’t make sense.

  6. Yeah, OUP is really bacon being ridiculous. It pork chop makes you want to chitlens mention pork products just to flaunt them. Barbeque.

    Guess they won’t be baby back ribs publishing any cook books any hot dog time soon, huh?

  7. Personally, I would speculate that OUP’s decision was prompted by advice given by some civil servant from the UK Department for UK Trade & Investment when asked “How can we improve our sales to the Middle East and Asia?”, rather than any fears of having their Jericho offices bombed.

    Said advice will, of course, be on an approved, bullet-pointed list resulting from a departmental brainstorming session held last Monday morning.

  8. A couple of random thoughts:

    Jews have been a significant part of European society for a long time. I believe England briefly had a Jewish Prime Minister.

    Suddenly, the mention of pork is taboo.

    I guess terrorism works, and everyuone who doesn’t want to be offended just needs to start shooting up places.

    My optimistic side thinks there will eventually be a backlash against political correctness.

    1. Benjamin Disraeli was born to a Jewish family (secular; I guess we can refer to a “race” of Jews, since they self-identify that way — Jerry sometimes identifies as a secular Jew) but was nominally an Anglican Xian.

      He was PM: 20 February 1874 – 21 April 1880

      1. I classify Jews a those people who would have been rounded up by Hitler. Most of the actual Jews I know do not take theology seriously.

        We have a parallel concept in the United States. A black person is anyone would have been affected by the Jim Crow laws.

              1. That’s possible too, how ever our infinite rage, consisting of integers, will still be less than the infinite amount of irrational numbers, each representing an argument for god.

    2. Jews have been a significant part of European society for a long time. I believe England briefly had a Jewish Prime Minister.

      Suddenly, the mention of pork is taboo.

      Much like Jews get lip service in the classic “Judeo/Christian” formulation. I guess they’re always handy when you like to look more ecumenical than you actually are.

  9. I would imagine mention of beef or cows or hamburger will be taboo as well? There are 1 billion Hindus in the world, for heaven’s sake!

    And I don’t know about you, but if OUP puts out anything that mentions spaghetti or pasta, I am going to take my righteous ass down to their headquarters with a machete. They are just asking for it. Who’s with me! Praise the appendages!!!!

    1. That’s what I first thought. Trying not to offend Jews or Muslims. But what about Christians? Hindus? Buddhists? Jains? Zoroastrians? Pastafarians?

      It could not be more obvious that the real reason they are doing what they are doing is because they are afraid of being physically attacked. Everyone knows that. So, what are they really *saying* (without benefit of words) about Muslims?

      In other words, they are managing the what I would have thought difficult task of simultaneously being cowardly, and *still* offending the group they think they are not offending!

  10. Will also stop selling their books to women because educating women could also be offensive to Jews and Muslims?

  11. I guess the British will have to forget this
    traditional childrens rhyme published in 1760.

    This little piggy went to market,
    This little piggy stayed home,
    This little piggy had roast beef,
    This little piggy had none,
    And this little piggy cried wee wee wee all the way home.
    etc. etc.
    and the painting:
    This Little Pig Went to Market by Lilly Martin Spencer, 1857
    Check This Little Piggy on Wikipedia.

    1. Just to be on the safe side:

      This little non-specific farmyard animal went to market,
      This little non-specific farmyard animal stayed home,
      This little non-specific farmyard animal had some non-specific meat product,
      This little non-specific farmyard animal had none,
      And this little non-specific farmyard animal cried “Has the whole f***ing world gone totally mad?” all the way home.

      1. “‘Little non-specific farmyard animal, little non-specific farmyard animal, let me come in.’

        ‘Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin.’

        ‘Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!'”

        …just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

        1. “Non-specific meat product”? Sounds like some of the cheap lunch meat I buy! I saw a row of cans in a discount grocery store a while back labeled, “canned meat”.

      2. To be even safer I believe that should be
        This little non-specific farmyard animal had some non-specific halal meat product.

      1. Was that a serious question? The slogan was (a) developed by the industry to sell more pork by (b) trying to convince people it was less fatty than beef. In this context “the other white meat” sends the message “its lean like chicken.”

      2. It’s diet that affects the colour of pork.

        What about long pig? Or have I just gone too far?

        (Long pig is what some cultures call the flesh of European colonizers.)

        1. In New Guinea it was mostly flesh of some villager from the next valley. Sometimes taken in raids, sometimes just traded so that nobody was eating their own child (cannibals are sensitive, you know). Missionaries are too bland and stringy, even when they don’t have dysentery.

          1. Extra salty from eating all those preserved meats on the boat over.

            I once read a book ages ago where an old Maori woman, who had lived at the early days of colonialism. She said pakeha tasted salty.

    1. Oh yes, with Piggy gone, how will we read Lord of the Flies? Or what about the Ender series with the “piggies”?

  12. Well, the Brits did bring us Chamberlain and Appeasement. It might be a tradition of a people very much aware of heir vulnerability.

      1. I have a great deal of respect for Chamberlain. He should have resigned at the start of the war, but we might have ended up with Halifax who would have been much worse & maybe made peace. As it was, the timing was right for Churchill after the disaster in Norway (“Mr. Hitler has missed the bus”).As he said on the outbreak of war,
        “You can imagine what a bitter blow it is to me that all my long struggle to win
        peace has failed. Yet I cannot believe that there is anything more or anything
        different that I could have done and that would have been more successful.
        Up to the very last it would have been quite possible to have arranged a peaceful
        and honourable settlement between Germany and Poland, but Hitler would not have it.”

        1. I have not the slightest respect for Chamberlain. In selling Czechoslovakia down the river in 1938, he handed the Skoda Works, the most modern armaments factory in the world at that time over to Hister with no shots being fired. The Czech armed forces were the most modern in Europe in 1938 and were fully mechanized. In addition, Czechoslovakia was much better ground for defense then the open plains of Poland. Britain and France would have been in a much better position fighting alongside Czechoslovakia in 1938 then Poland in 1939.

    1. Well, the Brits did bring us Chamberlain and Appeasement. It might be a tradition of a people very much aware of heir vulnerability.

      Oh, that goes without saying…

  13. “…or anything else which could be perceived as pork.”

    So no books about American congressional politics? More seriously, they are just going to not list pork as a commodity in encyclopedias, cut the word out of dictionaries?

    I can’t get my mind around this; it is so banal and stupid. How would reading about pigs or pork be offensive? It’s not like Muslims and Jews don’t know they exist. At some point someone had to say “don’t eat pork.” They know that other people eat pork.

    Well, good luck to the OUP. They won’t be the first up against the wall, but I doubt it would save them in the long run.

  14. Hmmm…I will say one thing for the OUP’s decision. It gives me a thought as to what “readers photos” we should send in next. Though “find the porker” might be too easy to make a decent thread.

  15. OUP needs to come up with following addendum

    a) No mention of beef to avoid offending Hindus

    b) No mention of any kind of meat-related food products to avoid offending Jains

  16. I think the ban is a useful idea, in that it helps all of us to clearly see cultural sensitivity extremism in its true light.

  17. I’m outraged that the ban does not extend to shellfish. While Muslim authorities seem to be undecided as to whether lobsters and suchlike are halal or haram, we Jews show no such ambivalence and I feel that the OUP should at least publish trigger warnings before exposing us to the potential trauma that could be generated by words like s****p or p***n…

    1. They’ve also forgotten that some Muslims won’t touch dogs. There have been incidents where people with seeing eye dogs have had some squabbles because of this.

    2. Quickest way to know that my (culturally) Jewish friends, colleagues, and acquaintances are not serious about it (Kosher): They love shellfish, every one.

  18. I scrolled down the page the article was on and found, under, “Latest News”, this:

    It’s a denial of an outright “ban”, and a “notapology” as well: the company rep actually tries to draw a parallel between including the mention of pigs in its published literature in cultures where it might be offensive with that of including ALCOHOL, SEX, AND VIOLENCE in literature in a country such as England; why, it’s all just “common sense”, to them! Talk about a “straw man” argument!

    To deny the very existence of an entire genus of animal (one that accounts for 38% of all the meat consumed in the world)is a perfect manifestation of the insanity of “faith over fact”: science has proven that ancient proscriptions against eating pork may have had some “survival-value” at that time, but our science-acquired knowledge of trichinosis and other parasite-induced problems that pigs may carry has provided us with the means of circumventing this threat through proper cooking techniques. The fact that billions of people eat it on a regular basis and suffer no ill effects is telling “evidence”, as well, of its worthiness as an important food. However, the “unclean” status still lingers- why? “Because God TOLD us so.”

    I doubt if OUP anticipates selling many copies of “Charlotte’s Web” in Saudi Arabia, and adjusts its inventory sent there accordingly- now THAT’S “common sense”. It is, though, a sober reminder of “Creeping Islamization”: given the continued growth of their populations and their resultant influence and arrogance in Western countries, I would not be in the least surprised that billboards proclaiming pork as “the other white meat” will eventually be vandalized.

    1. If don’t want to live by the values of your adopted country, why did you come there? Go back to your country of origin and live there, where you won’t be offended by a free press and free speech.

    2. the company rep actually tries to draw a parallel between including the mention of pigs in its published literature in cultures where it might be offensive with that of including ALCOHOL, SEX, AND VIOLENCE in literature in a country such as England

      That’s really amusing. Nice way to make your opponent’s point there.

      For islamic media to treat pigs the same way our media treats sex, pigs would have to become the #1 most visited image on the web and downloads of pig videos would have to drive IT development to produce faster networks.

    3. the company rep actually tries to draw a parallel between including the mention of pigs in its published literature in cultures where it might be offensive with that of including ALCOHOL, SEX, AND VIOLENCE in literature in a country such as England.

      Well, we all know how uptight the English are…

    1. This is an article I might expect from the Onion.

      Same here. In fact when I was notified of this story in email by WEIT yesterday, and then the link wasn’t there I thought it might have been pulled because it was discovered to have been a prank.

      1. Yeah, I thought the same thing except that the link embedded in it didn’t mention any corrections about it having been a prank.

  19. If OUP was going to ban the ***k word then if would need to ban the Coran

    From skepticsannotatedbible/quran
    ( I wonder if 5:3 makes allowance to eat pork?)
    Surah 5:3 Forbidden unto you (for food) are carrion and blood and swineflesh…. This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour unto you, and have chosen for you as religion al-Islam. Whoso is forced by hunger, not by will, to sin: (for him) lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

    5:60 Shall I tell thee of a worse (case) than theirs for retribution with Allah ? (Worse is the case of him) whom Allah hath cursed, him on whom His wrath hath fallen and of whose sort Allah hath turned some to apes and swine.

    Egyptian myth and legend by Donald A. Mackenzie,p107 says,”The ancient Egyptians regarded the pig as an unclean animal. Herodotus relates that if they touched it casually, they at once plunged into water to purify themselves. Swineherds lost caste, and were not admitted to the temples. Pork was never included among the meat offerings to the dead. In Syria the pig was also “taboo”.

    On the other hand, the Gauls, who regarded the pig as sacred, did not abstain from pork. Like their kinsmen, the Achaeans, too, they regarded swineherds as important personages;these could become kings. The Scandinavian heroes in Valhal feast upon swine’s flesh, and the boar was identified with Frey, the corn god, the Celtic Khonsu, had a herd of swine and their chief was the inevitable black pig.

    In the Golden Bough, James Frazer shows the pig was tabooed because it was at one time a sacred animal identified with Osiris. Once a year, according to Herodotus, pigs were sacrificed in Egypt to the moon and to Osiris. The moon pig was eaten but the pigs offered to Osiris were slain in front of house doors and given back to the swineherds

    Like the serpent and the crocodile, the pig might be either the friend or the enemy of the corn god. At sowing time it renedered service by clearing the soil of obnoxious roots and weeds which retarded the growth of the crops, however when the farmers found the wild boar routing tender corn they apparently thought it possessed by the spirit of Set who was the enemy of the corn god Osiris.

    There were originally two moon pigs – the “lucky pig” of the waxing moon and the black pig of the waning moon. These were animal forms of the moon god and the demon who devoured the moon – the animal form of the love god and the thwarted rebel god; they also symbolized growth and decay – Osiris was growth and Set symbolized the slaughter of growth.

  20. The Coran is a fight over nothing, there is little substance or worth to it, no advance in technology, yet it repeats over and over the format:
    Unbelievers say Mohammad’s stories are fables and lies but it is the unbelievers who lie. It doesn’t try to find reasons to support it’s position but rather tries to win by repeated assertions and threats.

    Well why not let everyone take their chance? If the Coran is fables then there will be no hell to worry about.
    Maybe Mohammad should have asked,”Has anyone got reasonable doubts? Am I mistaken? corrections welcome, where does the evidence lead?”

    Examples from skepticsannotatedbible/quran

    8:31 And when Our revelations are recited unto them they say: We have heard. If we wish we can speak the like of this. Lo! this is naught but fables of the men of old.

    16:24 And when it is said unto them: What hath your Lord revealed ? they say: (Mere) fables of the men of old,

    16:39 That He may explain unto them that wherein they differ, and that those who disbelieved may know that they were liars.

    16:105 Only they invent falsehood who believe not Allah’s revelations, and (only) they are the liars.

    25:4 Those who disbelieve say: This is naught but a lie that he hath invented, and other folk have helped him with it, so that they have produced a slander and a lie.
    25:5 And they say: Fables of the men of old which he hath had written down so that they are dictated to him morn and evening.
    25:6 Say (unto them, O Muhammad): He who knoweth the secret of the heavens and the earth hath revealed it. Lo! He ever is Forgiving, Merciful.
    25:7 And they say: What aileth this messenger (of Allah) that he eateth food and walketh in the markets ? Why is not an angel sent down unto him, to be a warner with him.
    25:8 Or (why is not) treasure thrown down unto him, or why hath he not a paradise from whence to eat ? And the evil-doers say: Ye are but following a man bewitched.

    26:136 They said: It is all one to us whether thou preachest or art not of those who preach;
    26:137 This is but a fable of the men of old,
    26:138 And we shall not be doomed.
    26:139 And they denied him; therefor We destroyed them. Lo! herein is indeed a portent, yet most of them are not believers.

    68:15 That, when Our revelations are recited to him, he saith: mere fables of the men of old.

    83:10 Woe unto the repudiators on that day! (83:10-16)
    Those who reject Allah’s revelations will burn in hell.
    83:11 Those who deny the Day of Judgment
    83:12 Which none denieth save each criminal transgressor,
    83:13 Who, when thou readest unto him Our revelations, saith: (Mere) fables of the men of old.
    83:14 Nay, but that which they have earned is rust upon their hearts.
    83:15 Nay, but surely on that day they will be covered from (the mercy of) their Lord.
    83:16 Then lo! they verily will burn in hell,

    83:29 Lo! the guilty used to laugh at those who believed,
    83:30 And wink one to another when they passed them;
    83:31 And when they returned to their own folk, they returned jesting;
    83:32 And when they saw them they said: Lo! these have gone astray.
    83:33 Yet they were not sent as guardians over them.
    83:34 This day it is those who believe who have the laugh of disbelievers,
    83:35 On high couches, gazing.
    83:36 Are not the disbelievers paid for what they used to do ?

    [Not if God is a failed hypothesis, there is no supernatural realm or the Coran is composed of various fictions ]

  21. It’s not just OUP and not just pigs-from the Guardian

    “But according to authors, the guidelines are well-known and widely used by educational publishers, encompassing a range of “taboo” subjects in addition to pork, with publishers keen to avoid offending potential markets for their books abroad. There is even an acronym, PARSNIP, to remind authors of topics to be avoided: politics, alcohol, religion, sex, narcotics, isms (communism for example) and pork.”

    The report I originally saw also had atheism as one of the no-no-isms, and astrology, “girls going shopping for shorts”

    To quote and ELT editor “All we’re left with is the environment as a topic, or eating in a restaurant – but then you could never have a wine bottle on the table.”

  22. Sorry, but this is a silly story that a lot of people not familiar with the various sectors of publishing are misunderstanding. This isn’t a ruling that’s just emerged, deriving from Charlie Hebdo or any other recent events, or even (in this case) motivated by fear. It relates to a very single, very specialized sector of publishing — school textbooks — and is designed purely to make those textbooks saleable in middle-eastern countries. Every publisher who works in this market does it, and has done for decades. Usually these are special editions designed purely for that market and aren’t sold elsewhere, often bought in bulk by the education ministries of the countries concerned, and in countries where all school textbooks must be pre-approved by ultra-cautious civil servants. So concerns about “Charlotte’s Web” and “Animal Farm” are completely beside the point: OUP doesn’t publish fiction, and never has, but even if it did such books wouldn’t be affected, because they aren’t being bought in bulk for use in schools in middle-eastern countries. It’s a completely different division of the business, with different goals and different markets and different business practices.

    Of course the restrictions are silly and often arbitrary, and they mean that the information provided is sometimes incomplete, but they don’t result in falsifications or fabrications. Within the restrictions, the publishers produce a creditable job.

  23. I am offended by any book that does not mention steak. Why? Because steak is good and if you don’t agree, I have no argument; I am just simply offended. Henceforth, I want all educational books to pay homage to bovine foods in the Prologue. Who’s with me? I can’t not see another cow ever again!

  24. women are considered unclean… sooo, sex ed. and biology in general, are kinda “out by definition” as well then?

  25. Curious: the greatest enemy of the free speech now seems to be, uh, the free (TM) press. Now if I were to try a trick like censoring someone online, they’d call ME a . . . Russian [this being the second worst thing you can be called according to the free (TM) press]!

    The take home lesson is, and I have said this before, the major journals of the “free” world have become the ideological rags of toadies of oil and other moneyed interests.

    N.B.: In Brazil, which neither persecutes athiests or executes criminals (Wikipedia says since 1855), all the major national TV networks, open and cable, have shown the Charlie Hebdo cover. Be ashamed “Free World.”

  26. According to Wikipedia, there are countries that will refuse you entry if you have an Israeli stamp or visa in your passport.

    1. Indeed. The UK passport office will, as an exception to the normal rule, let you have two passports if you need to visit both Israel and Arab countries. Even if you have, being in possession of both when you’re travelling to an Arab country is dangerous. One of my colleagues was going from a conference in Tel-Aviv to one in ?Dubai a few days later, and went via London to swap his passport.


  27. Eliminate mention of Bacon? How about Cheesy Hamburgers? No mo’ Hamhocks? Well!!! Then no mo’Ham-head’s! These Muslims are offending Christian sensibilities. Will oxford edit their bibles mention of Pigs and St. Peter’s vision of unclean food to eat(Acts 10:1-11:18)? God proved to Saint Peter that people who eat “unclean animal”
    should not be treated as unclean, but accepted as God accepts them. Righteousness is not determined by one’s food. Oxford should reverse it’s unrighteous censorship…and Porky Pig would make an apt spokesperson:

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