Sensitive readers

The works of children’s author, Roald Dahl, have been given a little contemporary tune-upby Puffin Publishing House. Dahl wrote many well-loved children’s books, such as “Matilda”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and “James and the Giant Peach”. “Sensitivity readers” were tasked with removing anything that might upset…well, anyone. Characters are described as “enormous” rather than fat and Willy Wonka’s Oompa Loompa’s are gender neutral. 

We couldn’t find out whether Mike Teevee was re-written to have an acceptable amount of screen time, nor if the geese and squirrels working in Wonka’s factory were subject to welfare regulations. Was James held responsible for creating an environmental disaster by parking a huge piece of fruit in New York? And what of the dreadful parents who spoiled and abused their children? 

Mark Hemingway was not the only one to point out the inconsistency in recent book-banning sagas. While those on the progressive side want to root out ethnic stereotyping in Dr. Seuss or some nebulous potential harm foisted on unsuspecting children, they are happy to allow graphic and explicit content in school library books. In the mind game known as “projection”, parents who want to remove explicit books are branded as censorious while those who are editing words like “ugly” out of classic books claim to do it because they care. They accuse you of what they’re doing. 

One counterterrorist program run in the UK even flagged interest in classic literature as a sign of “far-right extremism”. But in this case, even liberals such as writer Salman Rushdie said the rewrite was absurd. European publishers said they would not be making any changes to their editions. One French lawyer who defends author’s rights asked, “How far back should we go? Baudelaire? Voltaire? The Bible?…Who decides what is now offensive or goes against current thinking?”

There is a very obvious worldview that is being driven by “safetyism” – our obsession with reducing every harm in the world. But it is also a convenient cover for the general disdain progressives have for parents. Not content to let moms and dads instil morals in their children, they wish to form kids through activists teachers, inclusive libraries and woke TV. And if that fails, government policies and legal action should do the trick.

We should always advocate for laws that protect out littlest neighbors, but children are given to their parents, not the state. It is parents who are charged with raising their children, not the government. As Hemingway says, “Concerned parents should not be afraid to enter the fray.” Truth is on our side.

In these times of stealth editing and censorship, it is worth collecting physical books to feed your children’s minds, as Rev Fisk has advised in the past. Of course this applies doubly to the Word of God. The whims of the ideologues will come and go, but households built on the unchanging Word of truth will not be easily shaken. 

Update: Puffin will still release the “classic” editions of Dahl’s work, along with the edited ones. 

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