Do you feel at odds with our strange new world? Me too!

If children think they can identify as anything, where will it all end? So asks Colette Sheridan in her weekly column
Do you feel at odds with our strange new world? Me too!

The re-writing of books by the late children’s author Roald Dahl is bizarre and wrong-headed, says Colette Sheridan

YOU know you’re getting old when you regularly intone the question ‘what next?’

Do you ever hanker after less complicated times, that were not blighted by the kind of extreme woke thinking that insists you censor literature for fear of causing offence?

And as for the Government moving ahead with plans to allow 16- and 17-year olds to register their chosen gender without the current legal process for this cohort, isn’t that age group still a work-in-progress?

The brain finishes developing and maturing in the mid to late twenties. The pre-frontal cortex is one of the last parts of the brain to mature. This area is responsible for skills like planning, prioritising and making good decisions.

Without maturity, teenagers often take more risks because the social benefits outweigh the possible consequences of a decision which could be negative or downright dangerous.

I think it’s bizarre and pretty much wrong-headed that new editions of the classic children’s books by Roald Dahl have been edited to remove language regarded as offensive or insensitive to contemporary sensibilities. Words such as ‘fat’, ‘crazy’ and ‘ugly’ have been removed with passages rewritten.

Where is the truth-telling? What’s so offensive about describing someone as fat when writing about them? What are you supposed to write? A little on the large size? Or do you really sugar-coat it and use the word ‘statuesque’, which is inexact in a ‘fat’ context.

My jaw dropped the other day when a friend spoke of a child she knows who has declared that she self-indentifies as... a mushroom.

Now, I don’t know if this some urban myth designed to ridicule the whole area of how people now identify themselves. But if it’s true, then it’s no wonder I have the vapours.

And as for skirting around pronouns used to refer to people, the whole ‘they’ business has me fulminating. But I get it. It’s just the mangling of the English language that makes me cross.

However, if someone is born into a male body but feels like a girl and wants to do something about it, then go ahead – but do wait until you are 18 and do avail of counselling. Because gender is a minefield and not something that can be switched without major trauma, I would imagine.

People Before Profit TD, Paul Murphy and his partner have had a baby. Called Juniper, Paul has said that he and his partner are not ‘gendering’ Juniper.

“So we’re not describing Juniper as a boy, we’re describing Juniper as a baby, but it is male,” he said.

Just don’t send the happy PC couple a blue coloured card with a stork on it.

On the whole question of gender, Professor Donal O’Shea, a consultant endocrinologist with the National Gender Service, told another newspaper recently that politicians are afraid to oppose transgender agendas.

He has been working with gender-transitioning people for 25 years and says teenagers are too young to make rushed decisions affecting the rest of their lives which could lead to irreversible surgery.

I don’t know if George Orwell, author of 1984, had anything to say about gender. But he was prescient about the world we now live in, although he published the ground-breaking book as far back as 1949.

In it, he wrote about the Thought Police who use an advanced two-way telescreen technology. Every building and home in the country has a telescreen, in virtually every room. The Thought Police can spy on you at any moment. They can see and hear you at will.

“Any sound...made above the level of a low whisper would be picked up by (the telescreen.)”

Yes, a lot of us are convinced that our activity on smartphones is being listened to, all the better to direct specific ads at us.

In 1984, the ruling Party imposes a daily ‘Two Minutes Hate’. Every day, every person is required to drop what they’re doing, stand in front of a television and scream vitriol at the foreign enemy.

Sounds a bit like the nastier elements of Twitter to me. That forum can be vicious, making you feel the world is full of hate. Before swiftly moving on.

Orwell also wrote that if a Party member is purged for treason – real or imaginary – he is ‘vaporised’ – not merely killed but written out of history. It becomes treason, punishable by vaporisation, to state the ‘delusional’ belief that the person ever existed.

That’s like cancel culture, whereby an utterance that is not politically correct can be social media death and grounds for ostracising you.

What next?

Did you hear about the girl with long straight hair who identifies as being curly-haired? This was another anecdote from my friend of the mushroom story.

It sounds silly. But if children think they can identify as anything, where will it all end?

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