Patterico's Pontifications


Unbelievable: Twain Scholar Plans to Publish Edition of Huckleberry Finn Omitting the N-Word

Filed under: General,Morons,Race — Patterico @ 7:42 pm

Publisher’s Weekly reports on an astonishing Orwellian cave-in to political correctness: a proposal to remove the words “nigger” and “Injun” from “Huckleberry Finn”:

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic by most any measure—T.S. Eliot called it a masterpiece, and Ernest Hemingway pronounced it the source of “all modern American literature.” Yet, for decades, it has been disappearing from grade school curricula across the country, relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright, appearing again and again on lists of the nation’s most challenged books, and all for its repeated use of a single, singularly offensive word: “nigger.”

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 sort of silliness is nothing new; I noted in 2003 that the NAACP (whose acronym includes a reference to the racist word “colored”!) objected to “To Kill a Mockingbird” on the basis that it contains the dreaded n-word. And we watched with amusement as New York City sought to “ban” the word in 2007.

But the saddest part of this story is that the guy behind the whitewashing considers himself to be a Twain scholar:

“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.”

The idea of a more politically correct Finn came to the 69-year-old English professor over years of teaching and outreach, during which he habitually replaced the word with “slave” when reading aloud. Gribben grew up without ever hearing the “n” word (“My mother said it’s only useful to identify [those who use it as] the wrong kind of people”) and became increasingly aware of its jarring effect as he moved South and started a family. “My daughter went to a magnet school and one of her best friends was an African-American girl. She loathed the book, could barely read it.”

. . . .

“What he suggested,” said La Rosa, “was that there was a market for a book in which the n-word was switched out for something less hurtful, less controversial. We recognized that some people would say that this was censorship of a kind, but our feeling is that there are plenty of other books out there—all of them, in fact—that faithfully replicate the text, and that this was simply an option for those who were increasingly uncomfortable, as he put it, insisting students read a text which was so incredibly hurtful.”

One should not have to explain to a Twain scholar that the hurtful nature of the word “nigger” is the whole fucking point. But you can’t argue with a guy who thinks he is saving the book by destroying it:

“Dr. Gribben recognizes that he’s putting his reputation at stake as a Twain scholar,” said La Rosa. “But he’s so compassionate, and so believes in the value of teaching Twain, that he’s committed to this major departure. I almost don’t want to acknowledge this, but it feels like he’s saving the books. His willingness to take this chance—I was very touched.”

Hm. It feels to me like, instead of saving the book, he is working to actively destroy it — not just the book and its central message, but the notion of authorial integrity, the idea of confronting injustice head on, and about a dozen other critical concepts.

It’s enough to make you want to scream in frustration. Slapping the “morons” tag on this post doesn’t feel sufficient; stuff like this makes me want to create a new category called “Utter and Complete Fucking Morons.”

I know that language may seem a little rough . . . but again: that’s the whole fucking point.

UPDATE: I have just received word of Gribben’s next project: a new version of Orwell’s “1984” that will replace the disturbing term “doublethink” with the more soothing term “harmonious cogitation.”

UPDATE x2: See also: Michelle Malkin.

66 Responses to “Unbelievable: Twain Scholar Plans to Publish Edition of Huckleberry Finn Omitting the N-Word”

  1. Reminds me of the old Soviet joke–“Under socialism, the future is fixed and unchangeable.
    The past, however, is constantly subject
    to change.”

    John Cunningham (7e6e43)

  2. Patterico — using the f-word in a post! What are you, an English major or something? Oh.

    If it’s any consolation, there are dozens of versions of Huck Finn in print. This one may have some sales legs with the politically correct crowd, but posterity will ensure that the original is the one that we come back to. Years from now the censored version will be seen as a vanity enterprise peculiar to our era. At least, I hope so.

    JVW (c05059)

  3. How sad is it that JVW’s found a great point? Just as the N word is a historical fact about the 19th century of great importance, so is the notion of censoring that word of great importance for someone in the future to understand our era.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  4. Meanwhile back on Bizarro Earth,7340,L-4003911,00.html

    narciso (6075d0)

  5. A few points, and admittedly my feelings are mixed. I mean I agree this is an idiotic solution, but let me say a few things. And I want to be clear that not all these points are meant to be arguing against you, Patterico. I think your post is vague in some ways that is relevant to my thinking, so I am just expressing how I feel without referencing your opinions, unless i am saying otherwise. i don’t want you to think i am trying to misconstrue your arguments.

    First, can I make a confession? I think the book is overrated. It was courageous of Twain to write it, but that doesn’t make it good.

    Second, whether that racist ugliness is part of the point… well it, it is and it isn’t. I mean even when it was written everyone knew it was a disrespectful term. But I think on one hand, we have become more sensitive to it. On the other hand, the black subculture where they would call each other that term has come out of the underground. So the meaning of the term has changed. Modern readers understand it in a different light.

    Third, I can completely sympathize with the black parent who doesn’t want to see their young child smacked repeatedly with that ugliness.

    Fourth, I actually think it is positively good for kids to be purposefully ineducated about race and racism for a while in life. I think kids should be kept blissfully ignorant of racism for as long as possible, so that they are not in the habit of thinking in racial terms. Keeping Huck from the kiddies is part of that.

    Its a little like, in my mind, the controversy when a cartoonist depicted a monkey that was shot and the punchline was something like “I guess someone else will have to write the budget.” So then people start screaming “racist.” And what annoyed me is that the supposed anti-racists were saying I had to be hyper-aware of race. i had to constantly ask, “oh, wait, are there traditional stereotypes being associated with a black man, however tangentially?” (which was especially dumb in that case, because the author of the budget was NOT obama.) It required you to take the kids out of that blissful ignorance and positively teach them the stereotypes of the past no matter how idiotic.

    I think the answer isn’t to censor the book, but if it is to be taught at all, to be taught to teenagers and the like. I mean grown ups can read it. I used to have a black girlfriend who loved Grisham’s book “A Time to Kill.” That book is chock full of the n-word, although it is important to note that it is only characters saying it, not the author himself. She could deal with that because she knew the author’s heart was in a good place, and because she was an adult.

    But kids? Let me get back to that point about exposing people to racist hate.

    In my life, I have only felt actual hate toward another twice. The first was in watching Osama bin Ladin, in that video, bragging about murdering my fellow Americans on 9-11. The second was in the holocaust museum. I was came to the exhibit for the t-4 program, where they murdered handicapped people because they were “useless eaters.” I looked at the artifacts from the place and I was consumed with burning hate for the people who had done this, for the Nazis in general. Burning hate turning into hot tears. As I said, I only felt that way one other time in my life.

    I wouldn’t want to expose a mere child to feelings like that. you have to have a certain maturity to deal with that kind of ugliness.

    I don’t know quite what your policy preference is, but I feel that this book shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near children. And I am extremely reluctant to say to a black child that they must read it—they have no choice in the matter. Admittedly that is in significant part because I just don’t think the book is good enough to be worth it. But also just because if I require it to be read, then I am asking that person to wade through that ugliness. That is the sort of journey a person should only make voluntarily.

    But if you are willing to make that journey, then you need to unvarnished truth. Taking out the n-word is a white wash.

    Aaron Worthing (1a6294)

  6. On Twain and writing,

    Twain was particular about his words. His letter in 1888 about the right word and the almost right one was “the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

    Twain was exact. He chose his words with intent and purpose. He was unafraid.

    That some pussy wussy of an English prof in a classroom designed for learning and enlightenment to take place cannot even bring himself to use the word, let alone use the word as a jumping off point to openly discuss historical racism, bigotry and slavery in America, makes me think this prof should be frosting cupcakes for a living.

    Where else would you want to see such a discussion take place but in a classroom?

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  7. I’m torn on this question, on the one hand, that word, really has no place, yet paradoxically it has
    too much of one in the culture, on the other hand
    are we going to expurgate Frederick Douglas, or
    Harriet Beecher Stowe,

    narciso (6075d0)

  8. Third, I can completely sympathize with the black parent who doesn’t want to see their young child smacked repeatedly with that ugliness.

    I wouldn’t want to expose a mere child to feelings like that. you have to have a certain maturity to deal with that kind of ugliness

    Aaron, you use the terms ‘young child’ and ‘mere child’ but the professor stated that he decided to pursue the revised edition after middle school and high school teachers lamented they could no longer assign the books.

    Let me tell you, the average middle and high school student know what the “N” word is and carelessly throws it around when referring to their friends and strangers without batting an eye – black and white alike. These are not young or mere children, these are teenagers who have seen and heard it all (thank you, internet & cable tv).

    In light of it’s place in today’s lexicon, what a marvelous opportunity to discuss the word, the historical reference of it, the denigration of a people that coincided with one of the ugliest practices in our country’s history, all the while bringing home it’s cavalier usage by punks which has diminished it’s impact.

    If handled correctly – by the adults – it can be a very valuable teaching opportunity and help young people grasp what indecency lay behind it.

    We’re afraid of just about everything these days.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  9. As a society we have given up on education.

    Education allows free discussion of good ideas and bad. Now, we only allow discussion as a convenience ruled by a selected few who dismiss any contrary view.

    Historical considerations are simply ignored without the opportunity to educate.

    Ag80 (e03e7a)

  10. I guess Jim is going to have to change his name.

    Mike Myers (0e06a9)

  11. The overt racisms here are remarkable.

    JD (07faa1)

  12. this is mostly just to say we’ve achieved a consensus that the vast majority of American yoot are too stupid to worry about shielding them from Faulkner I think

    happyfeet (aa4bab)

  13. Good grief. One wonders how Clemens would make use of the term ‘honky’ in some witty piece composed for contemporaries in the Hereafter. No doubt a matron of overbearing character, sporting a bad head cold, speaking of her soiled hanky and nasal ills would materialize. Then he could move on to ‘cutting cheese’ and laying it on the ‘crackers’ at the bar for an essay on virtues of free lunches with pickled eggs in steamboat saloons.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  14. Note how IMP refers to him as though they were friends. Prolly were.

    JD (07faa1)

  15. One should not have to explain to a Twain scholar that the hurtful nature of the word “nigger” is the whole fucking point.

    Beg to differ. It isn’t and can’t have been Twain’s point in using that word, because it didn’t have that meaning in his day. Yes, in the USA (as opposed to the rest of the English-speaking world) it was already impolite, even offensive, but I don’t believe it had anything like the strength that it has today. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s my impression that to Twain and his intended readers “nigger” was about as impolite as “fucking” is today — not something one says in polite company, but nothing that would give anyone vapours. So to recreate the intended experience among that subset of modern readers to whom “nigger” is so offensive that they can’t get past it, is it so bad to substitute some less offensive word? Perhaps “slave” is too anodyne, and something like “darkie” should have been used instead; something that still packs a punch, but only a mild one.

    By the way, do you also object to the removal of “nigger” from The Mikado, or the retitling of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Niggers? Or is that different because no offense at all was intended by those authors, so now that the word has become offensive it must be replaced precisely in order to keep the original meaning?

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  16. UPDATE: I have just received word of Gribben’s next project: a new version of Orwell’s “1984” that will replace the disturbing term “doublethink” with the more soothing term “harmonious cogitation.”

    Patterico (c218bd)

  17. Well you might mock, Patterico, but suppose “doublethink” were ever to make it into the core language, and people used it every day without being conscious of its origin. I put it to you that future editions of 1984 would indeed have to replace it with some other piece of Newspeak, in order to retain Orwell’s intended meaning.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  18. I put it to you that future editions of 1984 would indeed have to replace it with some other piece of Newspeak, in order to retain Orwell’s intended meaning.

    I put it to you that they would not.

    P.S. You should have no problem reconciling that view with the one you expressed. Black is white. Up is down.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  19. this is same as how they wanna do the Constitution you know

    just say it says something else and bam presto voila it does

    happyfeet (aa4bab)

  20. If, we have close to 10% unemployment, yet we were supposed to be in ‘recovery summer’, Obamacare is supposed to lower costs, yet everything is going
    up, paging Dr. Syme to the red courtesy phone.

    narciso (6075d0)

  21. 1984 would become 2008, just so the leftists would feel good.

    JD (07faa1)

  22. this is same as how they wanna do the Constitution you know

    just say it says something else and bam presto voila it does

    Oh, believe me, I know.

    There are some of us who stand foursquare against that. Me, for one. Scalia (most of the time, with Commerce Clause jurisprudence being a notable exception) for another. Clarence Thomas, for a third.

    But, you know, mostly me.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  23. Wow. I’m a person again. Commenting on my own blog. Doing the occasional post. Working on a bigger post.

    Seeing my family sometimes!!

    For a while I was just Trial Robot.

    It will happen again too. Soon. But this is nice.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  24. IIRC we got the “bowdlerize” (sp?) from an English gentleman Bowdler, who published Shakespeares works with all of the sexy bits excised. Hopefully this version of Huck Finn will prove as popular over the years as Bowdler’s versions of the Bards words.

    “My mistress eyes are nothing like the sun, coral is far more red than her lips red. If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun…
    And yet I think my love as rare as any she belied with false compare.”

    Have Blue (854a6e)

  25. The Mona Lisa’s nose is too big. Let’s fix it. And maybe give her a hat.

    Jones (72b0ed)

  26. Jones:

    Indeed. You get it.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  27. Sorry for the long(ish) comment, but I think this is a pretty interesting issue, with a lot to discuss.

    It would be very easy to get snarky and sarcastic about all of this, and also about the worrisome direction where this sort of thing takes us (Hey, so can I have my own special edition of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” where Malcolm is angry at Filipinos instead of white folks?) but it’s worth some careful sifting, because maybe it can tell us some important things about the state of the nation.

    It seems to me that we’ve gotten to a point in our society where we have to prioritize our concerns about certain things. In the constellation of issues that circle around Huck Finn, here are a couple of those issues, but not in any order of priority (yet)…

    — We want students to be familiar with a keystone work of American literature, and in general to have a working and accurate notion of our literary culture.

    — We want students (or young people) to be familiar with certain elements of our history that were and are important parts of our development as a nation, even if they’re unpleasant to think about.

    — We want texts to preserve their integrity, and words to preserve their meaning, and not be altered and edited for questionable or self-serving reasons.

    — We want to avoid the sort of slippery slope that leads to having our language, our past, our culture being revised and manipulated in order to further Mephistopholean ends. (In point of fact, we’re on that slope right now, and have been for some time, and the momentum is only increasing as we slide further down it.)

    — We want students to be learning in an environment that is age-appropriate, non-hostile, comfortable, and suitable.

    There are other concerns too, but let’s start with these.

    Now personally if I had to prioritize among these things, I’d say that our duty is to the nation as a whole first, and not to a particular classroom or a particular text or a particular educational approach; so the most important thing is to preserve the integrity of texts and words, not because I worship Mark Twain, but because the long-term end-result of failing to do so, is total cultural catastrophe.

    It’s perfectly possible to get a fine introduction to American literature without reading Huck Finn. If people are genuinely offended by it (let’s take them at their word, and not call them PC twits), there are other Twain books to read to get an idea of Twain, there are other American classics of the period which are its equal or superior in range and influence, and other ways to learn about the historical conditions of the time which it is necessary for an educated person to know about.

    It’s a shame that we are at the place where we resort to this sort of pussyfooting around, but on the other hand, I can totally sympathize with a black student who just wants to read and learn without having that sort of thing forced on them in a way that stops all other processes cold. At a certain older age one should be expected to be able to handle these things maturely, but I can understand not giving that book to say a 12-year-old who doesn’t show an exceptional taste for literature. What does it serve? Huck Finn will always be a milestone novel, but maybe it’s simply no longer useful as a teaching text for a general student population. Better to teach Huck Finn in its correct text but only to age-appropriate ambitious students, (and let those who are not mature or easily offended read something else), than to alter the text so that everyone can read it, but in so doing set a precedent that is cultural and political poison.

    Me, I read Huck Finn at about age 15, and mostly I thought it was boring, and I’m a literary type of person. The main thing that impressed me about it was nothing about slavery or race relations or the dark chapters of American history, but instead, how interesting it was that Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer both inhabited the same imaginary universe but Huck managed to be so much deeper and realized. The lesson was artistic, not sociological. Oh, and there was a lot of droning on in class about what a great symbol the River was, too. Fine.

    What worries me the most in all of this, is the way that the so-called “n-word” (how childish is that usage?) has been transformed into a sort of magic totem that must be feared by some, and wielded as a weapon by others. I don’t blame anybody for being offended by the slur, in a garden-variety way, but the fact that certain factions have discovered they can gain short-term political leverage by making it into a talisman of Pure Evil, has the result of cheapening our political discourse for everyone. It makes us all coarser, stupider, and poorer in the long run — even the people who think they’re getting an advantage out of it.

    d. in c. (3c643d)

  28. this is same as how they wanna do the Constitution you know; just say it says something else and bam presto voila it does

    But that’s just my point. Take the constitution as it’s written now. English has changed to the point where some of the words it uses now mean different things. Hence we get confusion by moderns who read it and get meanings out of it that would have confounded the framers. Like people who think the preamble to the second amendment means it’s about protecting the National Guard. Or that journalists have special privileges protected by a clause all their own. Or that it prohibits punishments that aren’t used very often. Or whatever the hell people think “an establishment of religion” means, because they have no idea what an Established Church is, let alone what it was in the 18th century.

    Suppose someone were to propose amending the language of the constitution in order to get the meaning back to what it originally was. Is that betraying the constitution, or is it the greatest loyalty? Suppose they proposed rewriting the second amendment so that it read: “Since a population trained and ready to defend itself is necessary for a free country to be secure, the right of each person to own and carry weapons shall not be infringed.” Would you call that messing with the framers’ words, or repairing them?

    It seems to me that that is the effect of replacing “nigger” in Hucklberry Finn, and it’s what the effect of replacing “doublespeak” in 1984 would be in my hypothetical above, where the word “doublespeak” had become ordinary English.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  29. Yeah, Milhouse, I think those are actually called “Amendments.” LOL.

    Chris Hooten (2b9678)

  30. Adding language that better defines what we felt the original intent of the language was.

    Chris Hooten (2b9678)

  31. No, Chris, Amendments most certainly are not meant to define what we felt the original intent ‘of the language’ was.

    Run along and send some terrorists a little cash (again) ok?

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  32. Dustin,

    No Amendements were to change the scope and direction of the constitution, hence the high bar

    EricPWJohnson (e83e82)

  33. Dustin,
    No, I never sent money to terrorists, either. Come on now! I sent 5 bucks to Brad Friendman (NOT A TERRORIST) quite some time ago.

    Apparently sending money to the RNC is sending it to a criminal enterprise, determined to illegally take over state legislatures through money laundering of corporate money. (See Tom Delay)

    That’s right, Tom Delay was laundering corporate money through the RNC for the Texas State Legislature. NOT LEGAL! Whoops! Are all the people who gave to the RNC lovers of Felons and committing crimes to win at all costs? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

    Chris Hooten (2b9678)

  34. Actually it was legal. Which is why his conviction is inexplicable, and must be reversed.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  35. That seems so basic that I hesitate to even note you’re right, EPWJ. Apparently that’s needed, though.

    Amendments are a strong argument against redefining what’s already there. Chris pretending it’s an argument in favor of that project is too lame to be sophistry. It’s just lying.

    We can change what the constitution says. Or as Scalia recently noted, often we don’t have to because an act of congress can reflect an evolution of political thought. The fact that we aren’t stuck with the language of the Constitution means that major changes to its interpretation are generally affronts to democracy.

    Milhouse has a point, and I like his second amendment language better than what we’ve got. But it’s not like the government has to read the document in ignorance.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  36. Chris, if you supported Brad’s operation, then you supported his cohort’s. You said you donated, remember?

    I understand the idea that you were fooled, but don’t weasel out of it. You were fooled by a pal of a terrorist selling convenient lies about a political faction you clearly hate. You should face what happened there, so you aren’t fooled again.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  37. No that’s not how it works, dumbass. I gave money to brad for bradblog. I didn’t know crap about velvetrevolution, or provide any support, although it wasn’t doing anything wrong, you are just alleging that it was co-started by someone with problems. That has dick to do with me. Give me a break, and screw you for caring. You guys love attacking people. I have not attacked you Dustin, so you are a dick for starting this.

    Chris Hooten (2b9678)

  38. And amendments are for redefining what is already there, hence the use of the word “amendment”. You can’t Amend something that is not there.

    Chris Hooten (2b9678)

  39. redefining was a poor choice of words… Amending the definition, but not changing its intent would be a better phrase.

    Chris Hooten (2b9678)

  40. Back to the Twain thing… If there is a market for something, is it wrong to provide a supply to meet the demand? It’s not like they are changing ALL of the Books…

    Chris Hooten (2b9678)

  41. Or is it more of an artistic complaint? Do they have the right to change someone else’s words like that because they find them offensive? Can you paint over offensive parts of artwork, and sell them censored? I’m not sure they should be able to do it without providing a description of what they did, and why they did it in the front of the book, so the reader at least is aware of the changes from the original material.

    Chris Hooten (2b9678)

  42. Milhouse, I am sure that is why he is sitting in prison, convicted of multiple counts, because it was legal, lol.

    Chris Hooten (2b9678)

  43. Maybe the title page should read:
    “Huckleberry Finn”
    by Mark Twain
    translated from the original English by Professor Whoever

    To answer your question about free markets, the work is in public domain, so you are indeed able to do various things at will with it (see abridged versions of Moby Dick, say, or “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Jane Austen and Clever Wisenheimer).

    But it’s morally and intellectually wrong to change Twain’s text or insert words and phrases he didn’t use, and say it’s still Mark Twain, especially if you’re doing it with an axe to grind.

    Can you do it? I guess you can. Is it respectable? Not really, especially for an ostensible teacher. It’s a defacement of the original. Why bother to teach it if you can’t abide it? Or maybe, why not wait to teach it until the students are strong enough to abide it? Back when I was taught Shakespeare, we started out with the ones that are easy to read and digest, and only then did we approach the ones that are troubling.

    I get that these people are doing this for what they consider to be good reasons, and that some of their reasons seem defensible, which is why there is scope and dimension to the topic. But they’re playing with forces stronger than they realize, with hard-to-see consequences. I think wisdom should trump mere comfort levels.

    d. in c. (4acae7)

  44. i’d like to point out to all and sundry readers that “NAACP” is an acronym that bears on this discussion, to wit:


    have a nice day.

    Candid Camera (fb8750)

  45. Milhouse, I am sure that is why he is sitting in prison, convicted of multiple counts, because it was legal, lol.

    He isn’t, you fool. Oh, and two is not “multiple”.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  46. You are clearly a genius


    Definition of MULTIPLE

    1: consisting of, including, or involving more than one
    2: many, manifold
    3: shared by many
    4: having numerous aspects or functions : various
    5: being a group of terminals which make a circuit available at a number of points
    6: formed by coalescence of the ripening ovaries of several flowers

    Chris Hooten (2b9678)

  47. He is free on bail pending sentencing. My bad on that. But two is considered multiple in English, and neither really change the underlying message of my comment.

    Chris Hooten (2b9678)

  48. D n C. I agree.

    Chris Hooten (2b9678)

  49. Unscrupulous prosecutors, like Ronnie Earle, are brothers with those facilitated the late Senator Steven’s conviction with manufactured evidence, and are currently employed by the Obama administration, in work in Alabama, and in national security investigation! are more than a bit common, one can add the slayer of the mighty Martha Stewart dragon, Comey, who facilitated the attack on the TSP, and Fitz, who has an uncanny effort of not prosecuting the right target fully, in the Conrad Black, Libby, and even the Blago case. You can add Spitzer, who it can be argued
    falsely prosecuted executives, that might have been able to stop the current crisis from descending into the current depths

    narciso (6075d0)

  50. “Third, I can completely sympathize with the black parent who doesn’t want to see their young child smacked repeatedly with that ugliness.”

    This would be a valid point was it not for the fact that the word “nigger” is about every third word in nigh every rap piece ever performed, featured prominently in dialogue in movies, a staple of almost every black comedian’s act, and overheard constantly in street conversation.

    The word has become a totem around which those afflicted with white guilt, and those seeking a cause for imagined grievance rally, and nothing more.

    Those who use it for such should be ignored; the use in this context, or The Nigger of the Narcissus, or any of the myriad of other pieces of literature in which it was used in the past is, at this point, historical.

    If someone wants to take the vapors upon seeing it, the thing to do is explain to the addlepated little twit the historical context, and why it has become unacceptable in usage today.

    Unless, of course, one is an aforementioned rap “artist”.

    A Fine Bunch of Rubens (720b7a)

  51. Our efforts should be focused on repealing the 17th amendment. This would have states-rights Senators opposing activist judges, unfunded mandates, a runaway federal budget and runaway federal power.

    One good shot solves all these problems-repeal the 17th.

    Smarty (b78ca5)

  52. Someone should tell these people that censoring the word gives it more power.

    Kman (d30fc3)

  53. As much as I admire Mark Twain as a storyteller … there was more than a little detached coldness, even meanness, in his writings. Hemingway, too. I do like Twain’s books but I do not consider them iconic, or blasphemous to edit them.

    nk (db4a41)

  54. I am biased. I have never forgiven Twain for the hatchet job he did on James Fennimore Cooper. I’ll take Hawkeye over Huck Finn any day.

    nk (db4a41)

  55. If I missed someone else mentioning I apologize but the LAUSD already takes chunks of dialog out of Tom Sawyer and the entire section on the Duke in Huckleberry Finn. And reading aloud some passages to the students is not forbidden but generally not a good career move either.

    Pat Patterson (56dc55)

  56. I read Huck Finn out loud to my kids as written … after one had been indoctrinated into the world of PC. It was a chore, but we got through it and I hope she finally understood that Jim, the object of the offensive word, was the only real man in the whole damn book. A real mensch. And that was the whole point of the book.

    And I love the news guy suing because he lost his job over a non-offensive use of the word while fellow employees “of color” were free to drop it at will.

    Jack Wagon (dd4d45)

  57. #

    Someone should tell these people that censoring the word gives it more power.

    Comment by Kman — 1/5/2011 @ 6:17 am


    Jack Wagon (dd4d45)

  58. I wonder how Alan Gribben feels about editing programs like Clear Play which cleans up profanity/nudity in films in order to keep them PG-13 rated and non-offensive?

    Would he agree that parents should have the right to watch clean films without offensive material with their kids or would he side with the film’s writers (and directors) who strenuously object to this practice because they see the editing of their work as changing the very meaning, essence, and intent of both individual scenes and whole movies – let alone an infringement on their artistic expression?

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  59. Chrissy’s Hooters needs to fling his poo at someone else’s blog for awhile – he gets the vapors way too easily.

    Third, I can completely sympathize with the black parent who doesn’t want to see their young child smacked repeatedly with that ugliness.

    AW, look up one of the more popular groups in pop music less than 20 years ago – their name was NWA. The acronym pretty much says it all.

    Dmac (498ece)

  60. What is this all about? What is this “slave” talk? What is the “N” word? And why are some ethinically identifiable people upset over it? Seems like a bunch of made-up stuff…….too bad there aren’t any books for me to education myself about all this – the ones that i thought would give me some insight all seem to be redacted or have cryptic words scrawled over the redacted ones. Even the movies rebutt this “oppression” talk – I think this is all hooey. (arghhhhh! IS this what we want?)

    Californio (67e59a)

  61. “smacked repeatedly with that ugliness”

    Better to deny your history – that’ll serve everyone so much better…..(not wallow, but flat out deny it ever happened..)

    Californio (67e59a)

  62. A look back at Mark Twain, the man who came to understand, might be helpful:

    Of course, many slave holders assuaged their guilt with the belief that they were good masters and that the slavery of their area was mild — indeed even beneficial to slaves. Again, Clemens confronted that rationalization in his writing as Mark Twain. In Following The Equator, after describing a German man striking his Indian servant, Twain says:

    I had not seen the like of this for fifty years. It carried me back to my boyhood, and flashed upon me the forgotten fact that this was the usual way of explaining one’s desires to a slave. . . . When I was ten years old I saw a man fling a lump of iron-ore at a slave-man in anger, for merely doing something awkwardly — as if that were a crime. It bounded from the man’s skull, and the man fell and never spoke again. He was dead in an hour. . . . Nobody in the village approved of that murder, but of course no one said much about it. (Chapter 38)

    This history left Samuel Clemens a legacy of guilt, guilt that he tried to assuage in his personal life through acts of charity. He gave money to or acted as a celebrity orator for fundraisers for various African American churches, the Tuskeegee Institute, and for the fledgling NAACP. Most notably, perhaps, he helped support Warner T. McGuinn through Yale law school, because, as he put it in a letter to the school’s dean, “I do not believe I would very cheerfully help a white student who would ask a benevolence of a stranger, but I do not feel so about the other color. We have ground the manhood out of them, & the shame is ours, not theirs, & we should pay for it” (to Francis Wayland, 24 December, 1885). McGuinn went on to a successful law career, and served as mentor of Thurgood Marshall.

    Remorse and a redemption story of sorts, translated onto the written page in ironic satire. What a brilliant lesson to teach young people.

    Surprisingly, Twain’s views of the American Indian was consistent – they always remained nothing more than savages.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  63. “Better to deny your history”

    Yes, China is doing so well with ‘fixing’ the history of the Communist Party in China. Tiananmen Square was just a mild disagreement settled with coffee and donuts after the Western media was shut out. The Cultural Revolution? 10 years of Festivus with continual ‘airing of grievances’! So maybe in the ‘airing’ some got a few bumps and bruises, or caught a stray bullet in the back of the head.

    East Bay Jay (2fd7f7)

  64. Quick! Someone tell Eric Holder all the “race” cowards are on the left.

    ant (6c2ae6)

  65. In the 18th century, King Lear was performed in aversion which showed Lear and Cordelia surviving and happily reunited at the end.

    Compared to that, this is merely foolishness. I’ll go read my unexpurgated copy, but if it means kids can read Huck Finn instead of not reading him at all, I can live with it.

    And Twain’s demonstration of how bad a novelist JFC was is one of the great comic essays in the English language, matched only by another one also by Twain, in which he explains “that awful German language” to non-speakers of German.

    kishnevi (11cba0)

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