In the opinion of Twain scholar, Prof. Alan Gribben of Auburn University in Alabama, stated that “For a single word to form a barrier, it seems such an unnecessary state of affairs.”
Gribben replaces the offensive slurs with “slave.” He commented that “Race matters in these books. It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”
The politically correct version has gone to market, and all 7500 have just about sold out.
Black CollegeUniv. of Oregon Associate Professor David Bradley disagrees:
“You use the term ‘teachable moment’ and that’s what n*&^%$ gives you. That’s why it’s important to keep it in there,” says the author, and Mark Twain scholar. “I call “Huckleberry Finn” a power tool when it comes to education,” says Bradley. “There are so many things [in it] that pry things open…That teachable moment is when that word hits the table in a classroom. Everybody goes ‘wooh’ Okay, let’s talk about it.”
But retaining it deprives others of experiencing the novel in school at all, said Randall Williams, co-owner and editor of NewSouth Books, republished “Huckleberry Finn” with "slave" replacing over 200 appearances of the N-word.
“It’s not ‘Huckleberry Finn” anymore,’” counters Bradley. “What are we teaching them [by removing the N-word]? This may be their first encounter with slavery.” He says that to withhold the N-word is to avoid an integral reality. “‘Slave’ is a condition…nothing for anybody to be ashamed of,” says Bradley, “But n*&^%$ has to do with shame…calling somebody something. N*&^%$ is what made slavery possible.”
* Sorry a 2nd ad appears about 1 minute into the story, but then the story resumes, uninterrupted.
What camp are you in?
Is it ever OK to mess with a literary classic?
Is the revision excusable because it would otherwise be banned?
Sometimes Banning a book actually makes it more popular because censorship has that effect.
But I find it interesting how different teachers approach the subject. One teacher spends 3 full days talking about race, racism, & racial slurs, while another refuses to use the "N" word at all.
When I grew up in the 60's the "N" word was still around, but I was taught it was a derogatory word, one that should not be used. Still I heard the adults sometimes using it, or telling jokes that included that word. I am not talking about the deep south, I am talking about Chicago.
The problem with rewriting books to make them politically correct, is the door is then open for all books to be revised.
How far back do we go? The bible has some offensive passages- and many would argue that it had already been censored, as some of the writings of Thomas were scrapped, because they did not fit the dogma of the church at the time.
Writer's write what they are thinking. Mark Twain wrote it that way, and we are free to openly address it. It is a period piece. The word "negro" was supposedly the correct, respectful word @ the time, but even now it is condescending, and divisive. The term "African American" was not used. Even since then, that once "politically correct" term, often angered black Americans.
I remember Whoopie Goldberg going off an a serious tangent about it.
"I am an American, she said, I have never been to Africa. You say this is my heritage, then why don't we go around calling people German Americans, Polish Americans, Irish Americans???"
We are people. We come in different colors. Perspectives changed over time.
Do we look back & change literature to sanitize it, or it is unacceptable to mess with the writings of another author in order to make it politically correct?