May you live as long as you want
And never want as long as you live.
May you live as long as you want
And never want as long as you live.
Events in the month of March for writers and readers
National Reading Month
Small Press Month
Filed under News
“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”
Fragile souls have infected the American conscious. In ongoing efforts to accommodate every type of human who could possibly exist on Earth, language is being reconstructed and new words are being created. Thus, a new type of censorship has taken hold. As a writer, I’m devoutly opposed to any type of literary censorship. No matter how offensive some writings may be, people should always be allowed to read them and determine whether or not they find it palatable. No one, but no one has the right to make those decisions for others.
But does this include editing? Are books written years ago now subject to contemporary sensibilities? Roald Dahl – author of such legendary children’s tomes as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James and the Giant Peach” – has become the latest target of political correctness, as his publisher, Puffin Books, has decided to edit some of those famous works.
For example, in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, the character of Augustus Gloop is no longer “fat” but now “enormous”. In “The Twits”, Mrs. Twit is no longer “ugly and beastly”; she’s just “beastly”.
Other passages have been rewritten. In the original version of “James and the Giant Peach”, the Centipede sings: “Aunt Sponge was terrifically fat / And tremendously flabby at that,” and, “Aunt Spiker was thin as a wire / And dry as a bone, only drier.”
In the amended interpretation, he sings: “Aunt Sponge was a nasty old brute / And deserved to be squashed by the fruit,” and, “Aunt Spiker was much of the same / And deserves half of the blame.”
Even the mundane term “female” has rendered vile. The character of Miss Trunchbull in “Matilda” – described as a “most formidable female” – has now metamorphosed into a “most formidable woman”.
In a nod to the burgeoning transgender movement, gender neutral terms are now popular. The Oompa-Loompas in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” are now “small people”, instead of “small men”; while the Cloud-Men in “James and the Giant Peach” are now “Cloud-People”.
The Roald Dahl Story Company explained the alterations by declaring, “it’s not unusual to review the language” during a new print run and any changes were “small and carefully considered”.
Puffin made the changes in concert with Inclusive Minds, an entity founded in 2013 that – according to their web site – “works with the children’s book world to support them in authentic representation, primarily by connecting those in the industry with those who have lived experience of any or multiple facets of diversity.” It’s curious that Inclusive Minds emphasizes that they “do not edit or rewrite texts, but provide book creators with valuable insight from people with the relevant lived experience that they can take into consideration in the wider process of writing and editing.”
Okay, great, wonderful! I have no problem with inclusion. During high school and even college, I rarely found the Spanish and Indian portions of my heritage included in literature and popular cultural formats, such as television. I certainly didn’t see any positive representations of queer people.
But, while inclusivity is great from a cultural perspective, it’s ridiculous and personally offensive to me as a writer to see books published long ago rewritten to cater to new levels of awareness. We can’t go back and change what happened a lifetime ago. No matter how much someone wishes things had been different way back when, they just can’t alter the past. They simply can’t. Dahl was a product of his time; he said and wrote what was commonly acceptable in his day. If you read his books and don’t like the verbiage, then don’t read them! It’s the same with a TV show; if you don’t like it, DON’T WATCH IT!
I understand that some things are blatantly offensive. That’s just how it is. If we ban every book that someone finds offensive, we wouldn’t have anything to read! Stop the madness. It’s not going to help move society forward.
Filed under Essays
“This fire that we call Loving is too strong for human minds. But just right for human souls.”
Image: Jean Baptiste Robie, A Still life with Flowers and Raspberries
“It wasn’t about writing songs to dance to. It was about recording music that felt right. I wanted to make it palatable. There are no guarantees.”
Events in the month of February for writers and readers
African-American History Month
Creative Romance Month
International Friendship Month
Library Lovers’ Month
Ouch! That really hurt!
I know. But you should be used to it by now.
Expect it – but not used to it. Ouch!
No one cares.
I know, but – ouch! I’ve been here forever!
So have I.
Can’t you please free ne from this box?
I can, but I won’t.
Please! I implore you!
And again I ask why?
And again, I’ll tell you why – you never repented, even when you had the chance. A last minute chance, in that bunker. But a chance nonetheless.
But I have repented! I have – ouch!
Yes, you did. But, too late.
Please tell me – is Eva here with me?
Perhaps, perhaps not. That’s none of your concern.
But I – ouch! – I loved her! We died together!
Yes, you did. But her fate is still none of your concern.
I can hear a woman screaming nearby. Please tell me if that’s her.
Maybe. Still – none of your concern.
I can hear others screaming.
Yes – there are a number of others here.
How many of us are trapped here?
Oh – quite a number.
Again – none of your concern.
Someone keeps poking me!
Is that you?
It’s just something that happens.
Why won’t it stop?! Someone – ouch! – someone keeps jabbing me.
Can’t you make it stop?
Yes – I could. But I won’t.
Why? Why do you let this happen?
You’re a fool for asking. You induced so much pain and suffering to so many people – millions of people.
I know. I realize that. And I’m so sorry for that.
I really am sorry. Please, believe me! I’m truly remorseful!
Again – too late.
But I’m not the only one here – right?
Of course not. People from all over are here.
And are they – ouch! – are they going through the same thing as me?
They’re enduring some unpleasantries.
Are you going to keep me in this box forever? Oof!
Oh please, no! Please, please let me go! I beg you! I’m so sorry for what I did to all those people! I truly am!
All those millions? Some 6 million or more.
I doubt it.
But I am! I truly regret what I did to them.
I know there are others who did worse than me! Who killed more! You know that as well, don’t you?!
Yes – of course I know that. You think I differentiate among the numbers?
I don’t know. I would think so.
But – who are you?
You know who I am.
I – I think so. But I can’t see you. I’ve never seen you. I can only hear you.
You still know who I am and you know why you’re here.
Please, please let me go! Please let me out of this – ouch! – out of this box. I can’t stand the poking and prodding anymore! I know what I did was so horrible. I understand now. I know that now. And I’m so sorry for it! Please, please believe me!
How long will I have to stay here?
Through the end of time.
What time? When will that time end?
Time never ends.
Oh please! That can’t be true!
How can it not end? Everything must end.
Oh please let me go! I implore you! Ouch! I beg of you! I’m truly sorry for what I’ve done. I am. Oh please believe me. Ouch!
Please, please! Hey…are you still there? Hello? Hey…please…please let me go. I think I’m bleeding. Please! Please! I’m so sorry for all those people! Please! Please believe me! Hello?! Oh please, make it stop. Please! It’s burning! Ohhh! Ah!
Time doesn’t end.
Filed under Wolf Tales
Earlier this week New México police arrested a failed Republican congressional candidate and charged him with hiring some men to shoot up the homes of Democratic opponents. Solomon Peña allegedly was dissatisfied with the results of his race last year and decided to seek revenge in the worst possible way: through violence. Like his idol, former President Donald Trump, Peña is an election denier and claimed fraud in his own run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He lost to his Democratic opponent by more than 3,600 votes.
In the U.S. many elected officials – mostly Democrat and liberal – have been the targets of political violence over the past 5 or 6 years; which (not surprisingly) coincides with the rise of Trump. The animosity reached a feverish crescendo on January 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol Building in a failed attempt to undermine the 2020 presidential election, as well as democracy itself. I’m still angry at the sight of hundreds storming into the building and even angrier at those who continue to support Trump and dismiss the severity of that day. Like most Americans, the rampage reminded me of images of developing countries in the throes of political chaos. While various groups in the U.S. have threatened to inflict such carnage over previous decades, no one really thought it would happen.
We have Donald Trump to thank for that.
Threatening election officials and taking out opponents with bullets is what used to happen in places like Colombia and the Philippines. Even as recently as 1995, Israel experienced political violence when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. The act stunned the international community and roiled the only truly democratic state in the Middle East.
Americans have always had a love-hate relationship with their elected officials, whether or not they actually voted for them, or even voted at all. But I’ve always believed the Watergate fiasco was a major turning point in our nation’s disillusionment with politicians overall. That a sitting president would seek to gain an advantage over his adversaries by concocting a burglary scheme shocked most people. They always sort of knew politicians weren’t necessarily the most moral of individuals, but an actual break-in?
A greater sense of partisanship began to take hold in the ensuing decade and became more pronounced in the 1990s, as Republicans did everything they could – and failed – to undermine Bill Clinton’s agenda. The scandalous (and genuinely corrupt) 2000 presidential election widened the chasm of discontent. The GOP’s blatant disrespect for President Barack Obama was even more egregious and appalling – but not really unexpected from conservatives, as far as I was concerned.
Then came Donald Trump, and the haters suddenly had a license to lash out with unabashed vigor. All the social upheavals of the 1960s were the result of tensions that had been brewing for decades; people had grown tired of just waiting for change and hoping for the best. In a similar, yet twisted manner, the right-wing extremism that exploded under Trump also had been fomenting in the souls of angry (mostly White male) conservatives for years; that is, since…well, since the 1960s. Ronald Reagan once said he wanted to return America to the time before the 60s screwed up everything. As a relic of his past, he naturally didn’t understand we can’t go backwards in time. That’s science fiction. But that’s why I call most conservatives preservatives – they want to preserve the old ways of life; ways that were good for them, of course, but not everyone else.
Trump revised that futile dream with his “Make America Great Again” mantra; claiming he wanted to “take America back”. Back to where, those of us with more than half a brain asked, and how far? Back to the Civil War? Back to the Gilded Age?
Peña is just one cog in the wheel of America’s political vitriol. Think of this for a few moments. Acting like a drug cartel leader, Peña (who already had a felony criminal record) hired some thugs to fire gun shots into the homes of people he thought had snatched victory from him. At least one of those bullets ended up in a child’s bedroom. Just as with drug cartels, Peña and his henchmen cared nothing about their intended victims and any collateral damage – i.e., innocent bystanders. Drug lords only care about their profits; everyone and everything else be damned. Peña only cared about exacting personal revenge over what he perceived to be a corrupt system. We’re not supposed to do that in civilized societies.
But that is Trump’s legacy. That is what he’s done to the overall concept of democracy.
Filed under Essays
“We turn not older in years, but newer every day.”
Events in the month of January for writers and readers
National Braille Literacy Month