Newspeak at work
September 1, 2014
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There is an article in Montréal la Presse today about the horrified reaction of some women to the Dico des filles 2014 (2014 Girls dictionary). This is a book, published in France, written to help girls aged 12 and older face questions of conduct and morality. What is it that some women find so inappropriate? Here is a free translation of a few quotes from the book:
On the subject of abortion: “Although this is permitted by law, that does not make it just and moral. Abortion is a serious act which brings into question the value of human life. . . . An abortion always causes a wound that takes a long time to heal.” And: “Moral authorities and the major religious families all have something to say [on the subject of abortion] because it is their role to set out the priniples for guiding human activities. . . . . It is true that abortion is a serious act. But it is possible to condemn the act without condemning the person who had an abortion.”
On the subject of homosexuality: “It is true that some stable homosexual couples do exist. But the relationships are often ephemeral and unstable.” And: “Life is not simple for homosexuals and the road to happiness is full of pitfalls.”
Such words as these, which seem so mild and tolerant to me, are judged as being hideously intolerant by certain women’s groups. They want the books removed from public libraries and anywhere that girls might have access to such retrograde ideas of right and wrong.
George Orwell coined the word “newspeak” in his dystopian novel 1984. He foresaw a world where the thought police would take a word and make it mean the the direct opposite of what it originally meant. Are we there yet? It seems that we are getting close when some people label as intolerant any hint of a view that is different than their own and try to prevent it from being heard, then say that they are the tolerant ones.
Nevertheless, the Dico pour filles appears to be selling well, bookstores are sold out of the 2014 edition and awaiting the arrival of the 2015 edition in a few weeks.