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Denying natural law in a story for children

Progressives have been re-engineering children's stories for decades in order to tell their side of the big picture. They argue that Aesop and the Brothers Grimm got it all wrong. Progressives come at the retelling from two different angles: (1) they don't want to offend anyone, and (2) they deny natural law. Both of these features are exemplified in the retelling of the story of the Three Little Pigs.

For example, the London Daily Mail reported in 2007 that in a dramatic reproduction of the classic story the script was rewritten to omit references to pigs, so that people of Islamic faith would not be offended. The effort to please backfired, however, when actual people of Islamic faith regarded the effort as "misguided and said decisions like this were turning Muslims into 'misfits' in society. (See "Church school renames Three Little Pigs to avoid offending Muslims.")

Now, think about that. Suppose the producers of this fine retelling decided to change the animal references in order to avoid offending people of Jewish faith. After all, the story, as originally written, uses the three little pigs as a metaphor for law-abiding humanity. Strict Orthodox Jews regard pigs as unclean. From their perspective, so the politically correct progressive might think, such a metaphor is highly inappropriate, perhaps even offensive. Let's strike it out and substitute something else. The one problem with that notion is that strict Orthodox Jews tend to be highly educated, urbane people, who have mingled with the rest of humanity relatively peacefully and without incident for thousands of years. (Obviously, there are exceptions to that, primarily caused by historic fits of Gentile madness!) An educated Jew would most likely regard "We'd better change the story. We don't want to offend any Jews!" as deeply offensive!

Well, hello!? Lo and behold, there exist educated and urbane Muslims who would also find such re-engineering to be offensive. Indeed, if the story would have been offensive to Muslims because of the pig references, it strikes me as odd that Orthodox Jews would not have said anything about it in the 167 year history of the classic version of the story. The failure of progressives to recognize this is, again, a failure of imagination and insight of mammoth proportions. Yet it is also fundamentally a failure of nerve. As the Daily Mail reports,

But organisers of the Kirklees Primary Music Festival decided to change the script to be 'sensitive' to Muslims at a recent committee meeting.

Committee member Gill Goodswen, head teacher of Stile Common Junior School, defending the move.

She said: "We have to be sensitive if we want to be multi-cultural. It was felt it would be more responsible not to use the three little pigs.

"We feared that some Muslim children wouldn't sing along to the words about pigs,' she said.

"We didn't want to take that risk. If changing a few words avoids offence then we will do so."

She stressed the decision was not prompted by a complaint from any school.

But Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra from the Muslim Council of Britain branded the move 'bizarre'.

So, in attempting to avoid the possibility of a conflict, they caused a conflict. In an extreme effort to avoid giving offense, they gave offense. But, wait. The problems go even deeper than that. All of the nonsense could have been avoided if parents of the Muslim children had been involved in the production.

He said: "The vast majority of Muslims have no problem whatsoever with the Three Little Pigs. It's always been the traditional way of telling the story and I don't see why that should be changed.

"There's an issue about the eating of pork, which is forbidden, but there is no prohibition about reading stories about pigs. This is an unnecessary step."

Precisely.

The world of the progressive is populated by bugbears lurking behind every corner, it seems.

Other recent rows have involved 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' being changed to 'Baa Baa rainbow sheep' and Christmas events called 'winter' festivities.

Mr Mogra said: "How far are we going to go? Are we going to change the seven dwarves because it's discriminatory towards people who are physically less able? Where do you draw the line?

What's going on here is the operation of what is called the "hermeneutic of suspicion." You won't find an article on this arcane subject in Wikipedia, it's still too early to take it apart completely. It is, however, a common expression in many academic circles. Consider the brief article by scholar David Stewart, "The Hermeneutics of Suspicion." As Stewart correctly points out, the phrase is technically redundant. What it captures, however, is the post-modern tendency to de-construct the fundamental understanding of reality itself, to, in effect, be suspicious of every perspective that is handed down from one generation to the next.

It should not be surprising, then, if the continuing angst underlying the hermeneutics of suspicion, the fear that one is probably wrong about even the simple things in life, is liable to lead to hyper-vigilance regarding the possibility of yet another bugbear lurking in the shadows. The result is ultimate paralysis as the culture itself falls down and curls into a fetal position. The once-upon-a-time daring do of "It's easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission." has been transmogrified into fear of posing or doing anything that has not been tried and tested in the immediate past for fear of being found wrong. Indeed, the only thing progressives seem to feel comfortable with is the art of de-construction. For some reason it never seems to occur to them that the result is life with no structure at all, or life with a structure approved today (but, maybe not tomorrow!) by whatever elites happen to be in the top spots.

The post-modern focus on retelling the story of the three little pigs and the erstwhile "big bad wolf" has produced almost as many variations as there are Christian denominations. See, for example, "In search of the real three little pigs - different versions of the story 'The Three Little Pigs'." Perhaps the version that got the most attention a couple of years ago was "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs," which was actually a parody of the ongoing re-engineering of the classic tale. As recently as 2008, the progressive mafia found the reference to "three little pigs" to be offensive to some, so it was retold as "Three Little Cowboy Builders." See "Three Little Pigs 'too offensive'."

It never stops. Progressives are bound and determined to "get it right" however, because there are all those young impressionable minds out their, waiting to be formed. (For a recent attempt which seems to have gotten some traction, see "‘The Three Little Pigs Revisited’: New Version With Recycled Houses and ‘Miscommunication’.") The Jesuits used to say, "Give me a child of 7 and I will have him for life." Someone should have told that to the Jesuits. St. Ignatius would be horrified by what has happened to his order since he founded it. Indeed, in all of the retelling of the classic tale, the common thread, apart from not wanting to offend any powerful constituencies, seems to be the denial of natural law. The wolf, for example, isn't "bad," but merely misunderstood. The fundamental problem posed in the tale isn't nature's conflicts or even core virtues of thrift, foresight, prudence and industry, but miscommunication. You won't hear much about ants and grasshoppers these days, unless you happen to be in a bar or an exotic delicatessen. Somehow that classic story isn't quite so protean.

The author of the classic three pigs tale, James Halliwell-Phillipps" is undoubtedly rolling over in his grave. Of course, if Jesus were still buried, he would be rolling over in his grave, as well.