There's a surprising amount of misconception over a major publishing company's directive discouraging authors of children's books from writing about pigs or pork consumption to avoid offending Muslims or Jews. The knee-jerk reaction in the immediate aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre has been to accuse Oxford University Press of kowtowing to religious hardliners at the expense of free speech.
Kowtowing they are, but it's got nothing to do with free speech. As Oxford has patiently tried to explain over the hysterical din, they export books to nearly 200 countries, and if the material isn't culturally acceptable, the books won't sell. What's important to understand - and it's something I failed to adequately explain in the original version of this post - is that Oxford is being sensitive about books it exports to Muslim countries. The no-pigs-or-pork directive doesn't apply to books sold in countries where it's not an issue. That's just smart business on Oxford's part. In the same way that Muslims consider the prophet Mohammed infallible, western corporate interests worship the almighty dollar, and anything that infringes on profit margins or compromises the share price is tantamount to blasphemy. It's just business.
Of course, while religious sensitivities are assuaged and capitalist interests are served, millions of children lose because they're stuck with cheap imitation literature like the Three Little Goats, Pearls Before Bovine and This Little Mole Rat Went to Market. And the day they come up with a pig-free version of George Orwell's classic Animal Farm is the day camels fly.