Patterico's Pontifications


More on That Moron Who Is Bowdlerizing Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 pm

Allahpundit passed on the topic yesterday because he couldn’t imagine a prominent liberal dumb enough to defend the idea of censoring “Huck Finn” to save it. Allahpundit acknowledged today that he hadn’t counted on Nick Kristof:

If censoring Huck Finn will help get a great book back on h.s. reading lists, isn’t that worth it?

Once Allahpundit spoke up, his take was typically pithy and on point:

It’s historically false, it betrays Twain’s intent, it sets a horrible revisionist precedent for other great works, and maybe worst of all, it misses the point of why the slurs are there. Twain’s goal, of course, wasn’t to gratuitously dehumanize blacks, it was to use the sympathy you feel for Jim to make you feel the injustice of that casual day-to-day dehumanization. . . . [W]hat kind of high school teacher are you if you can’t explain the difference between a racist book and a book that uses racist language to argue against racism?

They had great fun with this over at, where one wag suggested that the “Twain scholar” was about to come out with a new Melville edition titled “Moby Penis.” But the best comment was from a fellow who reprinted this central passage from the book:

So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didn’t know what to do. At last I had an idea; and I says, I’ll go and write the letter–and then see if I can pray. Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as light as a feather right straight off, and my troubles all gone. So I got a piece of paper and a pencil, all glad and excited, and set down and wrote:

Miss Watson, your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below Pikesville, and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send.


I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn’t do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking–thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the time: in the day and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing. But somehow I couldn’t seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I’d see him standing my watch on top of his’n, ‘stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had small-pox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the ONLY one he’s got now; and then I happened to look around and see that paper.

It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:

“All right, then, I’ll GO to hell”–and tore it up.

If you don’t read the book at all, you need only read this passage to get a good sense of it.

Yeah, let’s censor that.

Don’t you want to wring the necks of the idiots who want to alter writing like this in any way?

If you don’t, you’re a better (and less violent) man than I.

UPDATE: If you’d like to listen to the “scholar” who is screwing with this classic work, you may do so by clicking here. From the transcript:

Absolutely. And that’s why I only fucked with the one word. But that word has proved to be quite a hurdle for many younger readers, their parents and their teachers.

. . . .

Well, there are nine references to the N-word in “Tom Sawyer,” and those were bowdlerized to slave. And the debasement of the native peoples, I think, has probably proceeded far enough.

I also retired the archaic Injun term and – however, I left the racial denominator Indian because it helps explain why the villain in the story feels so alienated from the village as the frontier has receded away from the village and he’s stranded there and treated, he feels, disrespectfully.

. . . .

Why is this word so precious to some people? I just don’t understand. You would think that that is just the most precious word in the English language, the way some people grow defensive about it. Oh, it must be in there. It must be in there. And yet slave hardly carries any good connotations. It’s abhorrent in the civilized world today and works very well, I think, in this book. And again, I just want to emphasize that person is free not to purchase the book, not to read the book and to turn to the other authoritative editions that I recommend.

Thanks for that freedom, Mr. Scholar!! (Which, I bet, you’d like to take away from me.) But it’s good to know that — for now, at least! — it’s OK with this cretin if we go ahead and read the version Twain actually wrote.

By the way, I tampered with only one word in quoting that transcript. And by “one,” I mean two.* But you are free, of course, to follow the link to the actual transcript, and read that, instead of the version I screwed with. So, you know, it’s all good.

Geekgasm: A Superhero, Like For Reals!

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 12:15 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Yes, this apparently exists:

Actually its apparently a whole team of them. And no, I don’t think it’s a good idea.  The Blaze has a few details.

But am I the only one who thought of this?

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Buzzkill: America’s Drill Instructor Apologizes

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 9:32 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

You might remember that video I showed you of R. Lee Ermey going “full metal Glenn Beck” at an event promoting Toys for Tots.  Well, his official site recently released this message:

A Message from the Gunny

“I recently appeared at a fundraising event designed to collect toys and raise awareness for underprivileged children. While that event succeeded in raising thousands of dollars and hundreds of toys for this cause, I regret that I delivered a monologue that was inappropriately critical of the President. I was trying to be entertaining and simply went too far in this instance. I am mindful that my success as an entertainer relates in part to my experience in the Marine Corps, my devotion to its members, and the deep respect I have for members of all our Armed Forces. My comments should not be seen as reflecting on them or their views. I was just very disappointed in the amount of success that we were having raising toys and money for the underprivileged children this season. The poor economy has greatly hampered our efforts. My comments were misguided, and emotionally based, and for that I am truly sorry.”

Semper Fi

R. Lee Ermey

Personally I read this as more him being sorry for doing so when performing that role in advocating Toys for Tots.  In other words, he isn’t denying that Obama is trying to bankrupt the country in order to impose socialism, he is just saying this was the wrong time and place.

Some also speculated that Geico was leaning on him.  Well, except by the nature of the commercial I didn’t think he would be returning anyway, so unless he is paid for each airing of the ad, its hard to understand what they can hold over his head.  And I just suspect that the guy has enough money and integrity not to care overly much about losing the gig.  But I could be wrong.

By the way, I was not far off about saying he was a Glenn Beck follower.  At Raw Story, they have a fuller account of the remarks that started this whole thing, with this line:

As Ermey walked off stage, one of the event’s hosts laughed and commented, “I’m so glad he has an opinion about things.”

“How do you really feel, Lee?” another asked.

“I’d been waitin’ for the Glenn Beck” to “come on Fox,” he said. “I need to have that.”

So Beck must be happy to have a fan.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Changing of the Guard

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 9:02 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

First, via Drudge we get what Legal Insurrection calls the photo of the day:

Ah, that is good stuff.  But for real schadenfreude, its hard to beat this one.  Via The Blaze, we learn that TMZ has footage of Arnold Schwarzenegger getting a parking ticket on his first day out of office.

Yeah, don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Arnie.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Death Panels Put Out of Their Misery, Again

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 8:51 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Not too long ago Karl reported on the Christmas-weekend news of the return of the Death Panels by regulation, hoping we wouldn’t notice.

Well, if this AP report is correct, we did notice and they are killing it, again.

Reversing a potentially controversial decision, the Obama administration will drop references to end-of-life counseling from the ground rules for Medicare’s new annual checkup, a White House official said Wednesday.

The latest shift on the sensitive subject comes ahead of a vote next week in the new GOP-led House to repeal President Barack Obama’s landmark health care overhaul. The decision is not likely to have much impact on patients and doctors already discussing options for care in the last stages of life.

Medicare coverage for voluntary end-of-life planning was part of the original House version of the overhaul legislation in 2009, but it was dropped after Sarah Palin and other Republicans raised the specter of “death panels” deciding the fate of vulnerable seniors. Those charges were later debunked by several non-partisan fact-checking groups.

Sure it was end of life coverage in a section of the bill designed to keep costs down.  Nothing at all creepy about that!

And of course we get a new use of the MSM’s favorite adjective when describing bad news regarding the Obama administration:

End-of-life counseling unexpectedly surfaced again late last year in a Medicare regulation that spelled out what would be covered in a new annual checkup, or wellness visit, authorized by the health care law. The regulation said such voluntary doctor-patient discussions could be part of the annual visit.

The White House official said the administration is now pulling back the language because there wasn’t enough chance for all sides to comment on the change. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss what has turned into an embarrassing episode for the administration.

Ya don’t say.  In fact, I meant to post this closer to the time when Karl posted on the death panels, but the Hill captured the triumph of transparency involved in that initial decision:

Democrat regrets language in memo on ‘death panels’ that reignited debate

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is distancing himself from a memo sent by his office that urged health reform advocates not to advertise new end-of-life counseling regulations to avoid reviving talk of “death panels.”

The weeks-old memo recommended that end-of-life advocates celebrate a “quiet” victory out of concern that Republican leaders would “use this small provision to perpetuate the ‘death panel’ myth.”

Blumenauer now says he regrets the letter’s secretive language, which has only bolstered conservatives’ claims that the Obama administration tried to sneak the provision in under the radar.

“If I had seen the memo, I would have suggested it be worded differently,” Blumenauer told The Hill.In the memo, first reported on Dec. 26 by The New York Times, Blumenaeur’s office expressed concern that new attention to end-of-life care planning could doom an end-of-life provision included in a Medicare regulation issued last month.“Thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it, but we will be keeping a close watch and may be calling on you if we need a rapid, targeted response,” the memo read. “The longer this goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it.”

You know, nothing says “democratic legitimacy” more than a policy that people want to desperately want to keep hidden from the public.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

L.A. Times Article on Prop. 8 Rulings Omits Mention of Reinhardt’s Pathetic Defense of His Refusal to Recuse Himself

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Scum — Patterico @ 7:57 am

Last March, Jack Dunphy noted an L.A. Times article that consulted legal experts on the all-important question of whether Justice Thomas would be allowed to have a wife who is a political activist. (The experts said yes.) Dunphy noted that the editors seemed to have no similar concern over the liberal Stephen Reinhardt, whose wife heads up the local ACLU.

Now Reinhardt has refused to recuse himself in a case where his wife’s ACLU signed on to an amicus brief in the very same case — arguing that it is hunky dory because the brief was filed in the trial court, while he is sitting on the appellate court, which is totally different. Because, after all, what relationship does an appellate court have to the trial court? All he’s doing is deciding whether the trial court got it right . . . by ruling the way his wife urged them to do in a brief. See? No connection at all!

So I ran to the L.A. Times to see what the experts had to say about this.

And, oddly, it appears that Carol J. Williams’s article on the Prop. 8 rulings yesterday totally fails to mention Reinhardt’s recusal denial.

It’s almost as if a double standard is at work.

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