Most of you are familiar with the children’s book Charlotte’s Web but E. B. White. It tells the story of the friendship between a spider named Charlotte and a pig named Wilbur. Charlotte starts writing messages in her webs to help save Wilbur from being butchered. The story is a classic and has been made into a cartoon as well.
Charlotte’s Web was a 1953 Newbury Honor book and 1970 winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal. The children’s classic has been translated into 23 languages and has sold over 45 million copies.
But if E.B. White was to give that manuscript to Oxford University Press (OUP) to be published today, he would be rejected and turned away. It wouldn’t matter how good the story is or how many copies it might sell, OUP would still refuse to publish such a literary masterpiece.
Ewan Palmer, with the International Business Times, reported that during a discussion on free speech on the BBC Radio 4’s Today program, it was revealed that Oxford University Press has advised all of their authors to not write about pigs or anything to do with pork. They claim that doing so could offend Muslim and Jewish readers.
During the BBC discussion, Jim Naughtie stated:
“I’ve got a letter here that was sent out by OUP to an author doing something for young people.
“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.”
“That’s absolute, utter nonsense and when people go too far that actually brings the whole discussion into disrepute.”
I’ve never known any Jews who have claimed to be offended by books like Charlotte’s Web or any others that mention anything to do with pigs or pork. I suspect they only included Jews so as not to be called out for their catering to Muslims which it clearly appears to be the case. The International Business Times reported:
“A spokesperson for the Jewish Leadership Council added: ‘Jewish law prohibits eating pork, not the mention of the word, or the animal from which it derives.’”
However, Islamic law forbids a Muslim from having contact with a pig or any products made from pigs, let alone eating any form of pork. I’ve heard some Muslims say that accidentally eating pork is a forgivable sin if they ask Allah for forgiveness and others have said that it is an unpardonable sin and could condemn them to their equivalent of hell. Either way, pigs, bacon, sausage, ham, or pork of any kind are expressly forbidden.
So it seems that Oxford University Press is catering to the growing influence of Islam in Great Britain and around the world. They’ve never made any such restrictions involving anything that might offend Christians, but then Christians don’t go around bombing and killing thousands of innocent people like Muslims do either. I also suspect that what happened at the office of Charlie Hebdo last week may also have something to do with it.
So if E.B. White would have written Charlotte’s Web today and submitted it to Oxford University Press for publication, millions of children worldwide would never have the joy of reading a great story, all because OUP is too concerned about catering to Muslims instead of publishing good literature.