Sunday, 18 January 2015

#JeSuisCochon by Naomi Elana Zener

 Oxford, England, United Kingdom. An estimated 1.5 million swine have descended on the idyllic city of Oxford, England, to peacefully protest Oxford University Press’ ban on writing about or depicting any pig, or anything pork-related, in their children’s books. Even those who stand accused by the United Nations as the world’s worst swine slaughterers participated in the protest to uphold freedom of speech. As part of an ongoing policy to give their books a wider appeal for an international audience—namely one consisting of Jews and Muslims—in order to be considerate of cultural differences and sensitivities, Oxford has asked its authors not to portray the image of pigs, or make mention of them at all, in their work submitted for publication.  Pigs, feeling pilloried by Oxford’s attempt to prevent any rendering of their species in print, are refusing to take Oxford’s policy on all fours. “For centuries, pigs have shared literature’s pages with bunnies, foxes, mice, and other woodland, farm, and other housebroken animal pet-like creatures. They shouldn’t be classified as persona, rather pig, non grata for children’s picture books and tales,” Reverend Al Sharpton—enlisted by the pigs as their spokesperson—proclaimed to the media in attendance at the event. “Already relegated to second class citizenry status by human carnivores, labeled as the other white meat, our boar brothers and sow sisters will squeal against this swine sequestration!”

Hog representatives from nations across the globe flew in to attend the rally. Porky Pig, Olivia the Pig, Piglet, Squealer, Gub-Gub, Wilbur, were some of the more prominent snouts in the crowd, who linked their curlicue tails and strutted alongside the United Kingdom’s very own Peppa Pig, the bright star of Channel 5, who led the charge in the pigs’ march against Oxford’s boar embargo list. When asked for a direct quote on her thoughts concerning Oxford’s act of censorship, Peppa Pig simply “oinked.” Oink is no longer another four letter word—it’s now a rally cry.

North American publishers remained somewhat sympathetic to Oxford’s pig plight. Aware of the commercial limitations of some books, they noted that many European children’s publications don’t reach the bookstores and libraries on the other side of the pond due to their nudity and sexual content, which has been deemed too puritanically inappropriate for the young Canadian and American readers. However, the same North American publishers feel that Oxford’s publication ban on pigs could create a slippery slope affecting freedom of speech. “It seems ridiculous that little Johnny can’t be shown to be eating a bacon double cheeseburger in a picture book. As long as Oxford [University Press] doesn’t publish books of naked people having sex with pigs, I think that they should reverse their anti-pig policy,” said one prominent American editor from HarperCollins, who asked to remain nameless.

In an act of defiance, all pigs in attendance staged a mass dual conversion to both Judaism and Islam on the front steps of Oxford University Press’ offices. Standing in solidarity, Jews sent rabbis from all over—Israel, Canada, Australia, England, Germany, South Africa, and even the solitary one left in France—to preside over the conversion, given the unspoken Semitic sanctioning of the post-Sabbath Sunday brunch ritual indulgence that involves a few slices of crispy bacon. Famous Imams from the Middle East flew in to preside over the Testimony of Shahada. Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Bahá'í, and Buddhists also showed their support by carrying signs and wearing T-shirts emblazoned with “#JeSuisCochon” (or #IAmPig), as they participated in the march.

According to eye witness accounts, the million plus porker protest was a success making it clear that the world will ensure the preservation of the pretty pink cloven hooved animals in all forms of literature. Reverend Al Sharpton’s sentiments noted in his closing address to the protestors captured the spirit of the event: “If we remain silent, and allow Oxford University Press to sanitize its pages of swine, purify its publications of pigs, and bowdlerize its books of boars, who will be next on the chopping block?”

[Author’s Note: This piece was inspired by this article:]

© 2015. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

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