A Porker Corker: Oxford University Press Bans Pig, Pork References in Books

Publisher says it wants to avoid offending Jews and Muslims; both groups say ban is unnecessary.

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A Vietnamese pot-bellied pig eats kale at Manhattan's Central Park Zoo, July 2014.
A Vietnamese pot-bellied pig eats kale at Manhattan's Central Park Zoo, July 2014.Credit: AFP

Oxford University Press, in what it says is an effort to avoid offending Jews and Muslims, has asked authors to avoid references to pigs and pork in their publications.

Representatives of both communities told a number of international media outlets that such a ban was unnecessary.

“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,” a spokesman for Oxford University Press was quoted as saying by the U.K.'s Daily Mail and the Independent.

"Our editorial guidelines are intended to help ensure that the resources that we produce can be disseminated to the widest possible audience."

The issue came up during a discussion on the BBC's Radio 4 program about freedom of speech, in the wake of the recent Paris terror attacks, media reports say.

The program's presenter mentioned that he'd seen the guidelines in a letter OUP sent to an author, the reports say.

Khalid Mahmood, a Labour MP and a Muslim, told the Daily Mail that OUP's guidelines were "absolute utter nonsense. And when people go too far, that brings the whole discussion into disrepute.’

A spokesman for the Jewish Leadership Council said, according to the Daily Mail: ‘Jewish law prohibits eating pork, not the mention of the word or the animal from which it derives."

Oxford University Press, a department of the University of Oxford, is the world's largest university press, publishing more than 6,000 titles a year in more than 40 languages and selling 110 million units annually.

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