January 15, 2015
The debate about free speech has been thrust into the spotlight after the attack on a French satire magazine last week that killed 12 people. Now, news is emerging about a popular children’s publisher banning certain things from being written, so that Muslims and Jews aren’t offended by their words.
According to the Telegraph, Oxford University Press (OUP) has released absolutely ridiculous guidelines for its authors, telling them that they’re no longer allowed to mention anything pork-related in their children’s books out of fear some might take offense.
MailOnline reports that the bizarre clampdown aimed at avoiding offending people was revealed yesterday during a radio broadcast on free speech rights. Host Jim Naughtie said that his wife, educational author Eleanor Updale, is in negotiations with OUP, and she received a letter from them on the new guidance.
“I’ve got a letter here that was sent out by OUP to an author doing something for young people,” Naughtie said. “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,” he added.
OUP attempted to defend its new joke of guidelines by saying they need to make their material available to as many people as possible in as many countries as they can. A spokesman for the company commented, saying the company is seeking the “widest audience possible,” and with the number of countries they serve, they need to remain sensitive to what people might be offended by.
“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,” they said. “Our editorial guidelines are intended to help ensure that the resources that we produce can be disseminated to the widest possible audience.”
However, their decision hasn’t been well received, even by those within the Muslim community. Muslim Labour MP Khalid Mahmood spoke out against the guidelines, calling them “nonsense” and saying that OUP is taking things too far.
“That’s absolute utter nonsense,” he said. “And when people go too far, that brings the whole discussion into disrepute.”
More at Mad World News: