‘We’ll continue to learn nothing from the past if we keep erasing history’
Metro readers continue to debate the changing of some words in Roald Dahl children’s books, after Salman Rushdie and Rishi Sunak had waded into the row over censorship.
Some contributors likened the revision of books to the felling of statues of slave owners, and said that both acts reduce the likelihood of learning from the past.
Elsewhere, pedestrians push back against a claim that parents take over pavements with their buggies, and pet owners argue that animals other than dogs are worthy of walkies.
Read on to see what other topics have got people yapping…
■ To Katherine Lefty Do-Gooder (MetroTalk, Wed), who thinks it’s OK to censor Roald Dahl’s children’s books, despite being a fan of them as a child. As a fellow ‘lefty snowflake’, I think your implication that those who disagree with the censorship must be bigots is actually rather bigoted of you.
If you rewrite history, you stop being able to learn from history. The answer to problematic texts is to read and discuss these critically so that lessons can be learned, not to erase words relevant to the cultural and political context in which they were written.
You say that knowing now that Dahl was anti-Semitic makes you feel extremely uncomfortable and I’m sorry it does – but your comfort shouldn’t dictate what treasured childhood books can be allowed to say. I grew up on a diet of Roald Dahl and somehow managed to be a lifelong anti-racist and size positive (being a tad hefty myself). You don’t speak for me. April Turner, Essex
■ Regarding the debate about removing references to gender and appearance from Roald Dahl’s children’s books, we went through similar cases a few years ago, when everybody suddenly became outraged at statues of colonialists.
We must not simply erase history, even if people have different views from the norm at the time. We need history so that we can improve the future.
We must keep these examples so we can teach the future generations what is right and wrong. How would we teach them that, for example, colonialism, fascism, Nazism, the Inquisition – to name just a few – are bad things if we suddenly just erase them from our past? Pedro, Hammersmith
■ The decision to rewrite Dahl’s works is a commercial decision. When choosing books, the public won’t pick ones for children with language that grates. The furore surrounding this decision is political point-scoring from people who oppose progress. Neil Dance, Birmingham
■ Perhaps ITV should change the name of Roald Dahl’s great TV series to Tales Of The Totally Predictable. Kevin, Yeovil
■ In light of all this, is the boss of W Awdry’s Thomas The Tank Engine now to be called the Excessive Body Mass Index Controller? Andrew England, Huddersfield
‘Buggies aren’t a bugbear for all us pedestrians’
■ I’m confused by Sandra’s sarcastic comment (MetroTalk, Tue) that people with buggies seem to believe they have right of way. Does she expect parents to take their babies into the road? Tom, Surrey
■ Sandra, would you prefer the parent and baby to be forced into oncoming traffic? Frank, Kent
■ I agree with Sandra about the issue of buggies. Maybe we should all get a buggy. Joe, Wakefield
■ Watch out for the dreaded double-barrel buggies ploughing towards you. Yes, twins. And, God forbid, triplets. Daniel, Bellingham
■ These are the same parents who see an adult standing on public transport but don’t make their child give up their seat. JM, Glasgow
‘Cats, ferrets, and pot-bellied pigs need walkies too’
■ To Terry (MetroTalk, Fri), who was shocked to see someone taking their cat for a walk on a lead. Our pet rabbits and guinea pigs need walks, too. Nothing abnormal about it – it’s natural and fair. Dogs aren’t superior to other pets. Eva, London
■ I’ve walked my ferrets on a leash for years. And I know someone who regularly takes his miniature pot-bellied pig out for walkies. J Walsh, Sheffield
■ Dog owners say they can’t choose where their pets poo. But how often do you see guide dogs go for a poo? They ‘go’ on command. It would be hard for a blind person to bag it. Bev, Huddersfield
‘Put your hands together for Ben’
■ Well done, Ben from Colchester, (MetroTalk, Wed) for holding up his hands and saying he regretted comments made about people who enjoy chatting to shop staff. If only more people in this country could think before blurting out something unkind in haste (or post it online) or, at the very least, apologise if they subsequently realise their error, then it might become a nicer place to live again. Shane, London
■ My best read of the day? Ben’s admission that his opinion may have been unfair. What a good egg – and thanks, Metro, for choosing to let us see it. Heartwarming. Brenda, Sidcup
What you said…
Yesterday we asked readers whether literature should be edited to aid inclusion, in light of Roald Dahl’s books being revised.
- No – art should be left in its original form under all circumstances – 95%
- Yes – popular books should be updated to reflect the changing times – 4%
- Neither – I’ll leave my comment below – 1%
Some of the comments:
‘The cancel culture is wrong. What’s next, removing Hitler and the nazis from the history books, so as to not offend the Germans?’
‘It’s pathetic. Nobody was bothered when these books were written so why start blubbering now? I’d take the book back for a refund if I found it was altered. People should boycott them until common sense returns.’
‘…If they allow the edited books to be published then at least keep the originals available for those that don’t want to board the snowflake bandwagon. Even if it’s to show how we’ve progressed as the stories are a product of their time…’
And another thing…
■ To John Lewis (MetroTalk, Tue) – sticker remover from any DIY store will solve your sticky label problems. I’ve used it for years. Dot, Leeds
■ Scrape off the top bit of paper, John, and squirt a bit of lighter fluid on it. Works well on metal, hard plastic and glass. I’ve been doing it for years and it works every time. Keith, Rotherham
■ I’ve got a TV advertisement hate. It’s all the silly dancing in the kitchen while cooking. Viewer, Tyne and Wear
■ I’m bored with shopping centres. Seen one, seen a mall. Tom R, Sidcup
■ I bought a ceiling fan the other day. What a waste of money. He just stands there looking up and saying, ‘Wow, great paintwork’. Stuart, Cheltenham
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First appear at ‘We’ll continue to learn nothing from the past if we keep erasing history’