Three Little Pigs

If this story had appeared in the Mail or the Express it would have been easy to dismiss as bullshit. “Three Little Pigs deemed too offensive” tales crop up with monotonous regularity in places like that.

Unfortunately, this story looks true.

A CD-Rom version of the Three Little Pigs, titled Three Little Cowboy Builders, aimed at primary school children, was turned down by judges at this year’s Bett Awards because they had “concerns about the Asian community and the use of pigs raises cultural issues”.

They were also concerned that the story, which had already won a prize at the Education Resources Award, might “alienate parts of the workforce”.

Is it true that all builders are cowboys, builders get their work blown down, and builders are like pigs?

Anne Curtis, of the Newcastle-based company Shoo-fly which produced the title, is gobsmacked. She regards the accusations of racism as “like a slap in the face”, and thinks that the attitude of the judges is more likely to inflame ill-feeling than to prevent the spread of prejudice.

Becta, the government funded agency behind the awards is standing behind its judges’ decision.

UPDATE: (24th Jan) The Telegraph reports the reaction of the Muslim Council of Britain – predictably, “We are not offended by that at all”.

This really does seem to be a case of culturally hypersensitive idiots trying to do the right thing but ultimately having the opposite effect to what they intended.

According to Merlin John online, comments on the judges’ feedback form included:

“Is it true that all builders are cowboys, builders get their work blown down, and builders are like pigs?”

“The subject matter is questionable for certain groups within the UK.”

“The idea of taking a traditional tale and retelling a story is fine, but it should not alienate parts of the workforce (building trade).”

“Developers should make role models positive.”

“Although this may not be intended, it feels cynical and tongue in cheek.”

“Judges would not recommend this product to the Muslim community in particular.”

Merlin John also points out that the offending book and CD-Rom is given a glowing recommendation by the Becta-run website Curriculum Online.

14 Responses to “Three Little Pigs”

  1. Will says:

    This story was just copied from the BBC website!

    Talk about media watch.

    Oh and yes, it is ridiculous, it is just a story. Maybe they should worry about bigger indicators of racism or dogmatism. Like some branches of a certain religion.

  2. Chris Hughes says:

    Ooooooooh — Who’s afraid of the big, bad Muslim, big bad Muslim, big bad….

  3. Chris Hall says:

    Isn’t it now more offensive to American ranch workers?

  4. marc says:

    Open letter to Muslims. Go learn the meaning of this well-known British phrase: “When in Rome…”

  5. Adam says:

    As far as I can tell, this story was just as made up as all the stories in the Mail or the Express. There is a statement on the BECTA website explaining the reasons why the story was rejected, and “offensive to Muslims” was not mentioned at all. Read more at

  6. The item on the Becta website is a press release – and it reads as if it’s a response to the BBC article. It looks a tad defensive. It’s clearly not a free-standing neutral statement about the award, so the fact that ‘offensive to Muslims’ isn’t mentioned doesn’t mean that wasn’t among the reasons.

  7. Brian says:

    seems that no 5 has it right. The facts don’t appear to have got in the way of a good story here. The odd thing here is that the complaining entrant failed to be shortlisted for an award and then seems to be unhappy.Perhaps that is not so odd after all

  8. Adam says:

    Actually, the really odd thing is that the BBC have stooped to this level. You expect to read tosh like this in the Mail or the Express. I didn’t expect to read it on the BBC website. It’s rather shaken my faith in them.

  9. Colin says:

    Adam, read the telegraph version, this gives details of how muslims were brought into the issue.;jsessionid=RTL4EVU2FMSRDQFIQMFCFGGAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2008/01/24/ntales124.xml

  10. Adam says:

    Well, if it says so in the Telegraph it must be true!

  11. Monitor says:

    Adam, which part of this story do you think is untrue?

  12. […] to the Daily Telegraph (via): Muslims criticised Becta’s response and insisted that a computer program based on the […]

  13. Adam says:

    Monitor, I think the opening line of the story is untrue, the one that says “A story based on the Three Little Pigs has been rejected by a government quango in case it offends Muslims”.

    Whether or not one or two judges made some comments in which Muslims were mentioned (and bear in mind there were 70 judges, so if one or two judges made comments along this line it hardly makes it the majority view of Becta), there is no evidence that any of them seriously thought that the book should be rejected because it was likely to cause offence. I note 2 things here: first, only very brief quotes are given. Journalists are masters at twisting meanings by giving quotes out of context. Second, none of the comments about Muslims is attributed to an individual person, which makes it impossible to check the accuracy of the quotes. And more importantly, it means that if the quotes are completely made up, it means that no specific person is in a position to sue the Telegraph for being misquoted.

  14. G. Tingey says:

    However, it is only too likely to be true.

    If you factually describe islam as misogynist, medieaval, intolerant and cruel (see appropriate surahs for confirmation) then you will be branded a “Racist” and banned from commenting, in at least one well-known and supposedly “quality” newspaper, that falsly claims that “Comment is Free.”