Friday, April 27, 2007

Revising Roald Dahl (Or Not) in the UK

One of the great pleasures of the internet is having weekly access to Chuck Shepherd's long-running feature News of the Weird without having to pick up my local alternative weekly and without an editor cutting out stuff they don't think would fly with our local audience. In last week's version I heard of yet another instance of British sensitivity (perhaps over-sensitivity is a better word) to Muslims. Under the headline "We Must Never Offend Anyone," Shepherd refers to a March 16, 2007 report in London's Daily Telegraph of how the head teacher at a school in Huddersfield changed the title of a student production of Roald Dahl's "The Three Little Pigs" (from Revolting Rhymes of 1982) to "The Three Little Puppies" to avoid making Muslim children feel uncomfortable singing about pigs. As it turns out, Mohammed Imran, a spokesman for the local Muslim community, pointed out that Islam does not prohibit the mentioning of pigs, condemning this change as unnecessary and the school overruled the teacher. Paul Stokes' article about the "controversy" (so to speak) "Three Little Piggies Win A Reprieve" in the Telegraph can be found here.

By the way, Dahl's poem has some great opening lines worth repeating:

The animal I really dig,
Above all others is the pig.
Pigs are noble. Pigs are clever,
Pigs are courteous. However,
Now and then, to break this rule,
One meets a pig who is a fool.

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