By Grayson Quay
Willy Wonka’s hazardous chocolate factory just got a little safer for the thin-skinned scolds among us, thanks in no small part to the Orwellian efforts of “sensitivity readers.”
Puffin, the publisher for the late children’s author Roald Dahl, made news recently for hiring a service called Inclusive Minds to prepare new editions of Dahl’s works. The team of diversity, equity and inclusion experts quickly set to work eliminating objectionable material and even adding new passages.
Changes include describing obese characters as “enormous” or “quite large” rather than “enormously fat,” altering “You must be mad, woman!” to “You must be out of your mind,” giving a secretary an appropriately girlboss profession and removing the word “ugly.”
So who are these edits designed to protect? Fat people. Neurotic, unsexed women. People who’ve made themselves hideous inside and out. Those who, like the four children maimed in Wonka’s factory, insist upon the indulgence of their own appetites. In other words, the average attendee of your local women’s march (RELATED: There’s A Children’s Book About Pedophile Polar Bears)
The DEI hags (another unacceptable word) who mangled Dahl’s prose have performed the literary equivalent of clicking Facebook’s “I’m in this picture and I don’t like it” button. The drag queens, they/thems and body positivity advocates are well aware that any child raised on pure, uncut Dahl would scream the moment she saw them.
Rewriting Roald Dahl to remove the nastiness and meanness removes half the charm of the books. The whole point of the books is that the world is filled with nastiness and meanness, and children have to learn to navigate it in adventurous ways.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 21, 2023
Dahl told one interviewer that, for young readers, “[p]arents and schoolteachers are the enemy.” His strategy for winning kids over was to present himself as a co-conspirator against the grown-up world.
In “Matilda,” for example, a precocious young girl escapes the tyranny of a bull-dyke schoolmistress and a mother who, like Madonna, clings desperately to her fading sex appeal. In “The Witches,” a boy foils a coven of bald pseudo-women who hate children and want to trans them all into mice.
In a way, this subversive approach mirrors the censors’ own strategy. They howled when Florida banned “Gender Queer” and “This Book Is Gay” from school libraries, because those books are designed to draw children away from their parents and into the clutches of “good” progressive teachers. Imagine if Matilda escaped Trunchbull’s abuse only to have Miss Honey stick her on puberty blockers. (RELATED: Teachers Union President Eats Crow After Tweeting Fake List Of ‘Banned’ Books: ‘My Bad’)
The sensitivity readers who handled the new editions of Dahl know that if children can be groomed into progressivism, they can also be groomed out of it. The more dominant woke ideology becomes, the more appealing it is to rebel against. There’s a reason Gen Z boys, who’ve been inundated with feminist propaganda since birth, are such big Andrew Tate fans.
Roald Dahl – 2001 authorized Puffin edition vs 2022 authorized Puffin edition.https://t.co/4dnBSjHEvT pic.twitter.com/Psfulj7Krk
— Incunabula (@incunabula) February 18, 2023
All early education is indoctrination. You can’t have socratic seminars with third graders. Instead, a young child’s books and lessons should, as C.S. Lewis put it, teach “the little human animal” to “to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting and hateful.” (RELATED: Reading ‘Lord Of The Rings’ And ‘1984’ Could Lead To Right-Wing Extremism, Gov’t Report Warns)
Dahl shared a similar view of childhood, noting that the “adult is the enemy of the child because of the awful process of civilizing this thing that, when it is born, is an animal with no manners, no moral sense at all.”
Adults can fail at this “process” in two ways. The first is by failing to teach and model goodness, producing malformed children who delight in ugliness. The second is by making goodness seem boring, a simple matter of shutting up and obeying the rules. (It is, of course, possible to fail on both counts at once.)
Goodness, Dahl understood, must be an adventure, even a rebellion. James flees his abusive aunts in a giant peach. Matilda defies her headmistress. Sophie and the BFG fight literal giants. In “Danny, the Champion of the World,” a poor boy joins a village-wide conspiracy to poach pheasants from a forest belonging to their oppressive landlord. The book ends with a message to Dahl’s young readers: “When you grow up and have children of your own do please remember something important[:] a stodgy parent is no fun at all[.] What a child wants and deserves is a parent who is SPARKY.”
The liberal scolds have become stodgy and they know it. That’s why they want to hide Dahl’s spark under a bushel. Kids are starting to find woke propaganda as stultifying as Dahl’s generation found Victorians moralizing. That gives us an opportunity. Let’s seize it.
Grayson Quay is an editor at the Daily Caller.