Je Suis Nuts: Is that the sign that will replace the prestigious Oxford Univerity Press sign outside of the publishing powerhouse’s headquarters?
Apparently a Guidance issued by the OUP prohibits authors from including anything that could be perceived as pork-related in their books. So schoolbook authors have allegedly been told not to write about sausages or pigs so that “certain groups” won’t be offended.
We thought it had to be a joke also, but apparently the issue was discussed (and, we’re pleased to report, it was met with ridicule and disgust) by members of the British parliament.
According to numerous British media reports, a spokesperson for the OUP said its guideline exists because it needs to make educational material available to as many people as possible.
‘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.’
A spokesman for the Jewish Leadership Council told the Daily Mail: ‘Jewish law prohibits eating pork, not the mention of the word, or the animal from which it derives.
While Muslim Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said: “It’s utter nonsense. And when people go too far, that brings the whole discussion into disrepute.”
Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world, publishing around 6,000 new books a year across over 150 countries. It is 450 years old. It’s also gone a bit barmy.
UPDATE: Following publication of this article, an evasive admission about this new policy was found on the website of the OUP. On Jan. 14, a statement was issued about OUP’s editorial guidelines. To wit:
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.
Guidelines for our educational materials differ between geographies and do not cover our academic publishing.
In a word: yes. They banned the pig.