RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: The worlds of publishing and entertainment are in thrall to an intolerant cult

Foyle’s War creator Anthony Horowitz has fallen foul of the woke police. His latest novel has been censored by ‘sensitivity readers’ employed by his U.S. publishers.

They objected to his use of the word ‘scalpel’, which they claimed was offensive to Native Americans, even though it comes from the Latin scalpellus, meaning to cut, and has nothing to do with scalping.

Warriors from indigenous tribes we must now describe as ‘First Nation’ peoples would remove the scalps from white settlers and keep them as trophies.

Not that Horowitz’s novel, With A Mind To Kill, has anything to do with the Wild West. It’s the third in his series of James Bond thrillers, after he picked up the baton from the late Ian Fleming, and is set largely in Russia and Eastern Europe. Not too many Navaho living in Leningrad, the last time anyone looked.

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Oh, and the scalpel in question belonged to an actor playing a doctor. That, too, proved ‘problematic’. The sensitivity brigade struck out a description of the same character as having a face ‘that could have been carved out of wood’.

‘This is the latest woke diktat, which insists that only minority actors can play minority characters, only gay people can play gay, etc. So no white thespian should be allowed ever again to play Othello. And so on’ 

This was taken as a reference to statues of ‘cigar store Indians’ which once stood outside virtually every tobacconists’ in America, like those models of children in leg irons which used to pop up outside Woolworths on British High Streets, to raise money for Dr Barnardo’s Homes.

I’m only surprised that they didn’t also complain about an actor playing a doctor because he lacked the relevant medical qualifications and the role fell outside his ‘lived experience’.

This is the latest woke diktat, which insists that only minority actors can play minority characters, only gay people can play gay, etc. So no white thespian should be allowed ever again to play Othello. And so on.

Of course, that doesn’t apply to black actors, who are positively encouraged to take traditional white roles, which is why TV dramas set in 1940s and 1950s rural England have to feature a prominent number of black characters, even though they would have been few and far between, to the point of non-existent, 70 years ago.

Of course, modern productions set in big multi-cultural cities such as London and Birmingham, should reflect the demographics. But that doesn’t explain why Vera, based around a female detective in Northumberland, should feature such a large percentage of black characters, when the most recent census in 2021 reported that 97.6 per cent of residents there describe themselves as ‘white’.

Yet the same culture warriors who demand diversity and ‘authenticity’ in casting plays and TV shows insist simultaneously that intact male rapists should be able to identify as women, no questions asked, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Still, this has got nothing to do with truth or fairness. It’s all about politics, imposing a perverse Through The Looking Glass worldview which bears no resemblance to real life. Shamefully, cowed corporations and executives who want to get down wid-da-kidz, are only too willing to go along with this madness.

As Horowitz and other authors and creatives have discovered, the worlds of publishing and entertainment are in thrall to this intolerant cult.

Novels, plays and TV dramas must all push the woke agenda or they will be ‘cancelled’. Language itself is under full frontal assault.

The Mail on Sunday has got hold of new guidelines on what we can and can’t say. They originate, naturally, in ultra-woke California and come under the heading Evolving From Violent Language.

Out goes ‘killing two birds with one stone’. In comes ‘feeding two birds with one scone’. Out goes ‘roll with the punches’. In comes ‘let’s move forward’.

Other proscribed expressions include ‘flogging a dead horse’ and ‘taking a stab’ at something.

You couldn’t make it up.

'As Horowitz and other authors and creatives have discovered, the worlds of publishing and entertainment are in thrall to this intolerant cult'

‘As Horowitz and other authors and creatives have discovered, the worlds of publishing and entertainment are in thrall to this intolerant cult’

It’s all very well dismissing this as La-La Land nonsense. But as we’ve seen with everything from statue-toppling Black Lives Matter lunacy to the promotion of trans ideology everywhere from schools to the civil service, this politically motivated madness quickly crosses the Atlantic and becomes orthodoxy in Britain, with knobs on.

That’s if ‘with knobs on’ isn’t considered offensive to male rapists who identify as women. Take the case of the Exeter Chiefs rugby team who were forced to change their name because it was insulting to Native Americans — despite the fact that the number of complaints from outraged Apaches living in the West Country was, er, less than zero.

I’m sure Anthony Horowitz knows how they must feel, after his novel was filleted by sensitivity readers acting on behalf of the First Nation community. This got me wondering how his fabulous Foyle’s War would have turned out if it had been subjected to scrutiny by the modern day woke police.

Foyle, played by Michael Kitchen, is waiting impatiently outside his home in Hastings for his driver Samantha Stewart, played by Honeysuckle Weeks, who was recently convicted of drink-driving. Her defence was that she was fleeing an unwanted sexual encounter with a friend and his lover . . .

Sorry, sir, I was held up by the riot on the seafront between trans activists and Terfs objecting to the same-sex public conveniences.

That doesn’t explain why you’re an hour late.

I had to take a detour to avoid the new cycle lanes and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, sir. The vehicles are backed up to Bexhill.

That’s no excuse, Samantha.

I know, sir. But I’d prefer it if you called me Sam. I’ve decided to identify as male in future. Thought it might help my career prospects. I’m hoping to become a fighter pilot.

Not so much ‘Goodbye Sam, Hello Samantha’. More ‘Goodbye Samantha, Hello Sam?’

That sort of thing, yes, sir.

Are you sure that’s altogether wise? You might want to reconsider. My son has just been turned down by the RAF on the grounds that he’s a white, heterosexual male.

But don’t they know there’s a Battle of Britain on, sir? They must need all the pilots they can get.

I suppose they must. But that’s irrelevant as far as the War Office is concerned. They’ve got quotas to meet and only want to recruit women and members of ethnic minorities. No wonder they call them ‘The Few’.

Are we to pick up Sergeant Milner?

No, he’s signed up for the paratroopers, despite his tin leg. They are particularly keen to recruit unidexters, who are under represented in the Parachute Regiment.

Good for Milner.

Incidentally, what have you done to the car?

It’s a rainbow paint job, sir.

For goodness sake. It’s a Wolseley. They only come in black. This will make us a sitting duck when the bombers come over.

I know, sir, but it’s the Chief Constable’s orders. He wants us to show solidarity with the LGBTQWERTY+ community. By the way, he says you should varnish your nails and slip on these high-heeled slingbacks.

But I’m due to meet Hilda Pierce, from MI5 later. Whatever will she think when I turn up in a pair of stilettos?

I don’t think he’ll mind, sir. Hilda’s identifying as male for the duration. Actually, some of us have had our suspicions all along. Those brogues are a dead giveaway.

Just step on it, Sam. Sergeant Brooks and a couple of uniforms are meeting us on the pier. We’re closing down the Wild West show on the grounds that it’s offensive to Native Americans.

Right ho, sir. But the acceleration’s quite sluggish since they removed the engine and replaced it with the electric dynamo from Brookie’s pushbike. Would you mind pedalling a little faster?

After the pier, we’re heading to Walmington-on-Sea. Apparently the commander of the local Home Guard has been making disparaging remarks about the Germans and one of his privates has been singing about Herr Hitler having a deficiency in the trouser department. We’re to arrest them for hate crime.

(Sam swerves violently.)

Steady on, Sam. Have you been drinking?

Well, yes, actually. I had a couple of sweet sherries after escaping a compromising situation?


Yes, sir. My friend Ruby tried to get me to take part in a sexual encounter with her and a GI from the local airbase.

That’s nothing to be ashamed of these days, Sam.

I know, sir, but I couldn’t work out whether I was supposed to be identifying as male or female for the purposes of the threesome.

Er, quite. Would you mind pulling over and helping me loosen this basque. You haven’t got a scalpel on you, have you?

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