The internationally renowned Oxford University Press (OUP) has warned its stable of writers to avoid mention of “pigs”, “sausages” or “pork-related” words in children’s books, in an apparent bid to avoid offending Muslims and Jews.
The guidelines came to light after a debate on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme where presenter Jim Naughtie cited a letter sent by the Press to an author.
The letter states: “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”, Naughtie added.
Muslim Labour MP Khalid Mahmood agreed with Naughtie, calling the guidelines “utter nonsense”.
“When people go too far, that brings the whole discussion into disrepute”, Mr Mahmood said.
The publishing rules have since been ridiculed amid doubts either Muslims or Jews would be offended by mention of farm animals in a children’s book.
Tory MP Philip Davies said: “How on earth can anyone find the word ‘pig’ or ‘pork’ offensive?
“No word is offensive. It is the context in which it is used that is offensive.”
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.”
Founded more than 500 years ago, OUP is the world’s largest university press. It is world renowned for its dictionaries, classical texts, bibliographies, and history texts.