When an institution sets out to ban something, more often than not the thing they choose to ban simply reflects back on that institution’s way of thinking.

So what does it tell us about the Oxford University Press that they are banning authors from using words that refer to pigs?

Yes, you read that correctly. Oxford UP is prohibiting authors from using the words pig, pork, sausage, or other pig-related words because they are afraid of offending Jewish or Muslim readers who consider pigs and pork to be off-limits for religious reasons.

Now, I can understand how Oxford UP would perhaps consider editing out a photo of someone stuffing their face with bacon in a manuscript where another photo could equally serve a purpose, but to eliminate all references to pigs is absurd.

Cutting out references to an entire species of animal isn’t an example of careful editorializing to avoid offending a particular group of people who don’t believe in eating that animal. What it is, however, is an example of removing language, information, and accuracy from a book to cater to the beliefs of another.

While freedom of press and speech may be a uniquely American ideal, it is absolutely wrong to impose a ban on a subset of information. No matter how hard Muslims or Jews try to imagine it, pigs are a species that exist on planet Earth. Not talking or writing about them isn’t going to make them disappear.

Furthermore, the issue begs the question whether any Muslim or Jew was actually offended by references to pigs and pork in works published by Oxford UP. Was the publishing house receiving an inordinate number or complaints due to depictions and references to a species of animal?

If that was the case, I suspect that Oxford UP would have used those complaints to give their editorial stance some weight. As it is, however, they simply said that they want their material to appeal to the widest possible audience so they don’t want to risk offending anyone—I paraphrase.

We need to stop cowing to invisible demands of political correctness. If something offends someone, they should speak up and mention it and then maybe something can be done about it. If it’s an invisible offense, let it stay invisible.



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