Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mark Twain Heads Back to Schools- Chopped Into Little Bits

What would Mr. Twain have said about censorship?  "Fuck you guys!" That's what.

The teaching of Mark Twain's masterpiece, Huckleberry Finn, has fallen off in recent years due to public schools' lack of comfort with the N-word, which appears in the book 219 times.  Well, never fear, fans of censorshit!

"Twain himself defined a 'classic' as 'a book which people praise and don't read.' Rather than see Twain's most important work succumb to that fate, Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn, in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the 'n' word (as well as the 'in' word, 'Injun') by replacing it with the word 'slave.'

"'This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind,' said Gribben, speaking from his office at Auburn University at Montgomery, where he's spent most of the past 20 years heading the English department. 'Race matters in these books. It's a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.'"

Ian Awesome's official position on censorship of any kind:  BULLSHIT.

The N-word is bad.  We can agree on that.  Racism = no good.  One of the ways I know this is because I was exposed to it, mainly in this book.  It taught me that the word "nigger" was used in a negative context and symbolized the oppression of the black American.

See?  You got a little uncomfortable even reading it here, didn't you?  Why?  Because we've heard it, we know the horrible context it was used, and now we shun its use.  I mean, these kids hear that word every day in use in gangsta rap-- maybe they should understand its historical power and respect the word for what it has been-- a tool of oppression.

You change the words of our history and you change our history.  I asked my friend and fellow activist and troublemaker (now published author too!  yay!) Robert Smith what he thought and he said:

 Rob Smith:  Further proof that all my friends are hot beasts.

"This isn't so much about the rush to placate blacks as it is another attempt to rewrite America's racist past, like when people try to pretend the Civil War wasn't about continuing slavery."

Let's not rob our children of their literary heritage, guys.  I know that if I ever read this to my goddaughter, I will certainly have to discuss seriously with her parents which version to read.  It will be an interesting discussion.

Update:  Asked said goddaughter's mom:
"I'm not interested in censorship.  Age appropriateness yes, censorship no. I mean I read the original and it didn't turn me into a racist."  Score one for literature!


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