Woke censors come for another classic — this time, without author’s permission
Far-left ideologues have taken over book publishing, and they’re now exerting their influence to rewrite classic books with more politically correct language. This disturbing trend was brought into the spotlight recently after attempts to rewrite Roald Dahl classics such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to sanitize language around obesity and gender led to widespread backlash.
But at least in that case, the changes were originally made with the blessing of the late author’s descendants. Now, another disturbing incident has emerged in which publishers allegedly censored a classic children’s author’s works without his knowledge.
ROALD DAHL REVERSAL: CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY PUBLISHER WILL KEEP ORIGINAL TEXT AFTER BACKLASH
This time, it’s Goosebumps author R.L. Stine who is being targeted by the speech police. The Goosebumps series was a wildly popular children’s horror series, that, as National Review reports , sold millions of copies per month at the peak of its popularity. Scholastic is now releasing modified versions as e-books with extensive edits to at least 12 of the books.
Examples of the changes made include replacing descriptions such as “plump” with “cheerful,” “crazy” with “silly,” “nut case” with “weirdo,” and so on. Scholastic says it’s making the changes in order to “keep the language current and avoid imagery that could negatively impact a young person’s view of themselves today, with a particular focus on mental health.”
It was originally reported that Stine had approved the changes, but he later came out and said that wasn’t true. The author tweeted , “I’ve never changed a word in Goosebumps. Any changes were never shown to me.”
Lindsey, the stories aren’t true. I’ve never changed a word in Goosebumps. Any changes were never shown to me.
— R.L. Stine (@RL_Stine) March 6, 2023
This is truly crazy.
It’s bad enough to censor or rewrite classic books with the author’s permission. As PEN America noted during the Dahl controversy, such bowdlerization is a perversion of literature as an art form. It’s meant to confront controversies and ideas, not avoid them! And any outdated language should be addressed through added context and discussion with teachers or parents, not by stealth-editing history.
It should really never happen. Yet to do such a perverse thing without the author’s blessing is exponentially worse.
A writer’s craft is his words. He pours his soul into them, often choosing each and every word deliberately. As a result, you simply cannot whitewash a text without fundamentally changing its meaning and eroding the author’s authentic voice. To do that to any work is wrong, but it’s especially so when it comes to a classic.
It’s also not at all clear that there’s any problem here that actually requires action in the first place. Precisely zero children were being turned into hateful “fatphobic” bigots because a character was described as “plump.” Likewise, no children in the real world were actually having their mental health harmed by a reference to someone as “crazy” (a figure of speech used in everyday conversation by and in front of children anyway). So they’re trampling on Stine’s art for no actual reason.
To be fair, it’s possible that contracts or agreements give Scholastic the legal right to make changes. But it’s nonetheless a moral monstrosity for them to do so against Stine’s wishes or without his knowledge.
It’s also quite revealing. Woke ideologues evidently think they cannot win an open debate on things such as gender or “body positivity.” The fact that they’re resorting to rewriting other ideas out of the material presented to children is, in effect, an admission that if all ideas are presented, theirs won’t win the day.
In that much, they’re right. But that’s exactly why we shouldn’t stand for their sinister censorship efforts. America isn’t on board with the excesses of the far Left. So why are we letting them backdoor their ideas into the minds of our children?
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Brad Polumbo ( @Brad_Polumbo ) is a libertarian-conservative journalist and the co-founder of BASEDPolitics .