Me and the girlfriend have been arguing.
Not about the usual stuff. These quarrels have been about the new children’s book I’ve nearly finished writing.
One chapter in particular has proved contentious.
In it the magical hero of a magical alternate world visits this world and upon seeing a 12 year old boy bullying a 7 year old girl he is incandescent with rage and visits the boy at home a short time later, stealing the boy’s most prized possession and later giving it to the girl to “fix” things. The boy pleads tearfully with him not to and he simply replies that you get what you give. The hero knows neither character yet his own sense of injustice leads him to intervene.
My girlfriend feels this is in itself bullying and that the hero is no better than the boy or possibly worse as he is an adult taking vicarious revenge on a child. She wants me to change it so the boy is shown to learn from this and change. Or that the hero magically tricks the boy into destroying his own property and then realising for the first time how it feels to be a victim.
Reason this is an ongoing issue is that I don’t care how the boy might feel. The only victim in this story is the little girl who I have made clear has a mother who loves her and can do nothing to save her daughter from this ongoing bullying as the police are unable to help her.
When I was a child I lapped up the stories of Enid Blyton. One of her characters was an elderly half human, half pixie named Mr Pink Whistle. He was a “fixer” and hated injustice and unfairness. Two stories in particular from these tales have stuck in my mind very strongly.
1). A brother and sister who had two rabbits for Christmas. They neglect them once the novelty wears off and forget to feed them or change their bedding. The rabbits are freed by a livid Mr PW who was strolling past the hutch (and could understand their cries for help) and when the kids come home he turns invisible and not only throws their dinner and dessert out the window but jumps up and down on their beds with dirty shoes, (terrifying them as he is still invisible) before making himself seen and then gently explaining why he did it and now they know what it feels like to be hungry and to have dirty beds. The children are ashamed but the downbeat ending has them finding out that he set their rabbits free who are now living in the wild, never to return. Final line is Mr PW to the heartbroken children “it’s a harsh lesson but learn it well”.
2). A little dog was being punished by his owners for losing his collars when it was in fact a local boy who was stealing them whenever the dog went out on its own. Mr PW can speak “Dog” so goes out following the mutt and when the boy grabs the pooch (with a big, nasty grin on his chops) he switches on the invisibility again and strips the kid down to his undies. The boy pleads through a river of snot and tears that he can’t go home in just his Y-fronts as his mother will spank him. Mr PW simply boots him up the jaxy and shouts “GOOD! Go home and get spanked!!”
Now….while old aged invisible men with dodgy surnames sneaking around in kids’ bedrooms and stripping teenage ne’er do wells down to their underpants is morally dubious (and might in fact get you a prison term and a spell on the UK Sex Offenders register) you have to remember that Blyton wrote these stories in an era when adults could smack children (even ones they didn’t know) and society in general took responsibility for how everyone behaved, not just the police. She clearly hated victimization and the character in the book was the avenging archangel of justice on any child who ever took another child’s toffee apple. Mr Pink Whistle only ever went ballistic when he saw bullying or thuggery and was known to be sensitive and caring, even crying on one occasion when witnessing a little girl in tears.
We have in my opinion moved into an era where everyone’s feelings are deemed to be important and worthy of note. Little shits who steal and rob and hit other children are said to have “issues” meaning if they thump other children at school they will not be excluded without a list of rotten behavior because the school needs to try and help them.
Winston Smith, a former social worker, says in his biography Generation F that things are now so bad that staff cannot even shout at children without being labeled “judgmental” or “aggressive” and that once while driving a particularly vile teenage chavette home in the staff car she kept kicking the back of the driver’s seat. There was NOTHING they could do about this except either stop the car or try and reason with her as to physically try would be an assault and at the very least result in dismissal.
This pathetic attitude now extends all through society where amoral feral children are deemed to have “a hidden pool of good character” that you just need to find in order to turn them into valued members of society. An assumed innate “goodness” is deemed to reside within everyone and just needs gentle coaxing in order to blossom.
What the cretins who advocate this bollocks don’t seem to realise is that if you pamper people who have no sense of right or wrong and a fundamental sense of entitlement, then they will simply act like wheelchair fraud Andy Pipkin from Little Britain and play up as they can get what they want no matter what they do and have absolutely no reason to be “nice”.
Sophie Lancaster was murdered in 2007 by teenage boys who thought drunkenly beating a woman to death was a right laugh. There was little or no malice in their actions. Neither was there hatred, fear, panic, greed or lust. They simply found the whole thing FUN. Society had pampered them for so long trying to release their non existent good sides that it fuelled their violent and psychopathic desires.
When I was a cop I arrested a 13 year old girl who was blatantly drunk for stealing two cans of Special Brew lager. Her and her chav mates were all shell shocked that I got my handcuffs out and were shouting that I was “evvy ‘anded” and proclaiming “she only took two cans of beer for FUCK’S SAKE!!!!”
Thing is, when we got to the Nick, booked her in and processed her she sobered up and said with a straight face “I don’t normally like policemen, but you two are nice”. My partner replied without looking up from the fingerprint machine “I am SO glad to hear that”.
Back to the book.
In the UK for too long we have had a tolerance of rotten behavior and a belief that heroes should take the moral high ground no matter what the consequences. “Turn the other cheek” only works if it doesn’t make the person raining punches on your head even angrier (as the song Coward of the County proved) and for once I want a hero that acts in a moral grey area, doing what is necessary to achieve what is right. Even the Narnia chronicles (which I still love) had characters that only showed their grey prior to becoming morally pure. High King Peter chops off a guy’s legs and head with two strokes of his sword but he’s acting in self defence.
My hero will act pre-emptively, will kill those who harm or threaten to harm the people he loves and will fight dirty if necessary as he knows if you’re dead your moral high ground is redundant. However at his core he is peaceful and a good guy and only dishes out trouble if other people start it.
The boy will lose his prized possession and the little girl will be smiling at the end of the chapter.
That I will NOT change.