Once there was this neat thing called “Western Civilization,” which gave the world such wonderful ideas as human liberty, the worth of the individual, and the freedom to speak, write, and publish without the fear of being punished for what we say.
That was then, this is now:
The largest university press in the world has warned its authors not to mention pigs or pork in their books to avoid offending Muslims and Jews.
Oxford University Press (OUP) explained that their books must take into consideration other cultures of the world and must avoid mentioning pigs or “anything else which could be perceived as pork,” the International Business Times reported.
The move was revealed during a discussion on free speech during BBC Radio 4’s “Today,” following last week’s terror attacks in Paris.
“I’ve got a letter here that was sent out by OUP to an author doing something for young people.” Presenter Jim 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 said.
Let me state for the record that I agree with Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, himself a Muslim, that this decision is ridiculous; Oxford deserves to be roundly mocked for their sniveling cowardice.
However, it’s not as if they haven’t been given reason for this. Not only have we had repeated examples of Muslims rioting and killing for perceived slights against Muhammad, but (to name just one incident) a fast food chain in Britain was threatened with “jihad” over a dessert on which the lid maybe vaguely resembled Muhammad’s name in Arabic. (1)
With all that, one can almost sympathize with Oxford’s preemptive self-castration. (2)
There was a time when we had confidence in our civilization, its values, and its accomplishments, a time when we would cheerily tell those who would try to tell us what we’re allowed to say to take a flying leap.
Apparently that time has passed at one of the oldest centers of learning in the Western world, whose publishing house rushes to censor itself before anyone even complains.
Grow a pair, Oxford.
UPDATE: Charles Cooke writes:
This is nothing more or less than an institution’s permitting the violent threats of the illiberal to impose thought control on the free. Worse, perhaps: this is forbiddance of the most petty, minor, craven sort. If those utilizing the publishing house of Britain’s oldest university cannot mention a basic food product for fear of offending the inordinately silly, how on earth are they supposed to tackle the larger questions of race, religion, love, poverty, sex, war, and politics? What chance do they have investigating belief systems and ideas? How might they go about debating subjects that really matter? All told, the popular claim “I’m offended” represents nothing more than a meaningless piece of cowardly self-indulgence. That Oxford University is so much as considering entertaining it is a disgrace.
UPDATE II: The people of Paris show themselves far more brave than the craven editors of OUP.
(1) “Offend Jews?” Since when has any official body in Britain worried about that?
(2) They claim they just wanted to reach the broadest market. Yeah, right.