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Politically Correct “Lord of the Flies”
Joe Keohane
By the time Ralph finished blowing the conch, a large crowd
had formed.
“Well, then,” he said, clearing his throat. “First rule: we can’t
have everyone talking at once.”
September 9, 2015
Jack was on his feet. “We’ll have rules!” he yelled excitedly. “Lots of rules!”
Ralph explained, “We need to have ‘hands up,’ like at school. Then I’ll pass the conch.”
“Conch?” someone asked.
“That’s what this shell’s called,” Ralph said. “I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak.
He can hold it while he’s speaking. And he won’t be interrupted, except by me.”
“Just because we’re stranded doesn’t give you the right to use non-inclusive language,” Jack
The littluns muttered in assent.
“Uh, O.K.,” Ralph said. “So he or she can hold this conch when he or she is …”
“He or she,” a littlun cried, “imposes a binary view of sexuality that excludes the gender-nonconforming.”
“I feel unsafe!” Percival whimpered.
“O.K.,” Ralph said. “During assembly, any person who holds the conch—”
“Excuse me,” Roger began, “remind us again why you get to interrupt us even if you don’t
have the conch?”
“Because I’m the chief,” Ralph said. “I was chosen.”
“By whom?”
“By you.”
“I didn’t vote for you,” Roger said, with a frown.
“We had a vote. The majority rules.”
“Oh, that’s brilliant—the majority,” Jack scoffed. The littluns tittered. “If anything, that
means you have even less of a right to interrupt than we do!” Jack faced the others. “If you
agree with me, wiggle your fingers.”
They wiggled their fingers.
“Look, I’m trying to get us rescued by the grownups,” Ralph said, gesturing toward a plane
that had been circling the island for some time, and now seemed to be flying away.
“You are speaking from a position of privilege,” Jack said, “so you have no right to criticize us
or tell us what to do.”
“Uh-uh,” Piggy interjected. “My auntie is a constitutional-law professor at Staffordshire. She
says that … ”
“Sucks to your auntie,” Jack snapped. “Fatty!”
The littluns giggled.
“I’m not fat,” Piggy whined. “I am a person of size.”
“It’s a fair point,” Roger said. “Can we even call Piggy Piggy?”
“I suppose it depends,” Jack said. “Is it glandular?”
“No,” Piggy replied, sadly.
“Are there oppressive or systemic social factors involved? Are you poor?”
Roger whispered to Jack, “You’re supposed to say, Are you experiencing poverty?”
“Right. Are you experiencing poverty, Piggy?”
“Right now I am.”
Jack went on, “But were you when you became … a person of size?”
“Then sucks to you, Fatty.”
“Everyone, please!” Ralph shouted. “This is important. If a ship comes near the island, it may
not notice us. We must make smoke on top of the mountain. We must make a fire.”
“Mansplain the world to us,” Jack crowed, “oh wise, almighty white cisgendered hetero
upper-class man.”
The littluns wiggled their fingers.
“Oh, keep your hair on,” Ralph said.
“Microaggression!” a littlun cried. “My sister has alopecia.”
“Look, everyone,” Ralph said. “The sun is going down. We need to organize a party to go out
in search of food.”
“We should hunt!” Jack said. “Kill the pig! Cut her throat! Spill her blood!”
They looked at him.
“It’s not necessarily sexist if the pig represents oligarchical capitalism,” Jack added.
“It’s certainly insensitive to vegans.”
“Does pork have gluten in it?” a frightened littlun mewled.
Suddenly, a naval vessel appeared in the distance. A dinghy dropped into the sea; a small
team of sailors climbed into it and paddled toward the island. The boys regarded them warily
as they landed on the beach.
“Are you the boys who need to be rescued?” an officer shouted.
“Why is he screaming at us?” Percival cried. “I feel very unsafe!”
“Some of us identify as gender-questioning,” Jack called back to the officer. “And we reject
your Eurocentric imposition of the jungle-rescue narrative.”
“No, please! Save us!” Ralph yelled, rushing to the officer. “Save us!”
“Er, see, here’s the thing,” the officer said, backing away. “I’m going to have to radio back to
my supervisors to make sure I’m following the proper protocols for dealing with selfidentified indigenous populations before I can do anything.”
They stared at him. He shrugged. “Or else we’ll just get killed on Twitter.”
The dinghy motored off. Then the ship. The boys were alone again. Ralph was afraid. “The
tide is coming in,” he said. “It’s getting dark! We need to build a shelter. We need to move to
higher ground!”
“Sucks to higher ground!” Jack said triumphantly, even though a large python had begun
coiling itself around his leg. “The tide is a mindless instrument of patriarchal violence!”
“I feel unsafe!” Percival cried, one final time, as he was swept out to sea.
“And another thing,” Jack said as he was being eaten by the snake and also a large boar. “This
conch of yours. It’s clearly vaginal, but you’re using it as some sort of musical instrument to
dominate us. That’s extremely problematic.
"But, by all means, ignore me,” he said to Ralph, who by then had died. “I’m just trying to
make this a safe place.”