Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I was watching 60 minutes last Sunday...
perhaps you caught it.
The subject was the use of the word "nigger"
in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn.
A publishing company has released a version of Huck Finn sans the word... replaced instead by "slave".
The man responsible for producing the books says his reasoning is that the word offends people.
You think?
If you are interested, you can watch the video clip here: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/60minutes/
The video article is called " The N Word".
I'm betting it would offend Mark Twain if he heard that "nigger" had been removed from his book!

Yes the word is offensive.  That's a fact.
However, it also contains a true view of that era in the south 
(and many other places). 

The entire point of the book is Huck's discovery that Jim is a good man and Huck's coming to understand that it is wrong to view him as being less worthy of respect than any other person.
Huck learns that Jim is not a piece of property or a lower form of man... called "nigger".
Jim begins the journey as a nigger in Huck's head... but ends it with Huck calling him friend.
Mark Twain wanted us to be offended and see a different point of view.

The video article goes on to speak with teachers in high school class rooms.  
One teacher will not say the word "nigger" out loud.
Another does.
They speak as well to a college professor from my beloved U of O...
(He's a Duck!)
who lectures on the subject of why the word "nigger" needs to remain in literature.
"Nigger." he says.
"Get over it."

The teacher who refuses to say anything but "the N word" when she teaches Huck Finn says that it is an alarming and upsetting thing for high school students.
I say "So what?"
Shock the monkeys!
Students need to see what things were like.
There is nothing wrong with feeling uncomfortable or being shocked.
We don't want them to hide their heads in the sand.
Life is a shock ride.
Get over it and get used to it...
being shocked shows they are on the right track.

You see how I feel about it.
What do you think?
Should books be sanitized for the sake of not making students uncomfortable?

(I wonder if the "n" word teacher also uses
"Lord of the Flies"?  Talk about a shocking and uncomfortable book!  Or is murder okay and not so shocking?)

Go ahead... toss me a carrot and tell me what you think.


  1. Ha! I love all these posts lately. I've missed you around here.

    Anyway, to answer your question, hell no. Leave the damn book alone. Let people be uncomfortable.

    I wonder which students exactly are made more uncomfortable: the ones who would likely prefer not to be called "niggers" or the ones who would like to forget how their ancestors made their money?

  2. Cricket- Thanks! I've missed being here too.

    That is an excellent point! And shouldn't those who feel uncomfortable examine why they feel so uncomfortable? Besides, you never solve an issue by ignoring it.

  3. I am totally against censorship in almost every form. Leave it as it was written. Let's all be shocked enough to make sure we don't repeat the same mistakes now.

  4. If I toss you a carrot you're just going to sit there eating it and not listen to me. ;-)
    Pft. Political Correctness. My university was all about that. It's good to learn. But it's also good to know what else is out there - stuff that those who are not politically correct say.

  5. NoRegrets- Hee hee!
    The school where I used to work was the same way.You're so right about needing to hear what else is out there. I think we need to face discrimination and wrong thinking head on.

    The other thing that concerns me about schools is the policy that we have to be sure than no child ever has hurt feelings to the point where we forget about using the "sticks and stones" saw. We all need to learn how to deal with words that hurt us... to be able to let them go.

    Now that I've listened... can I have a carrot please?

  6. don't sanitize the literature. it's an insult to the author and the intelligence of the reader. i don't think a teacher should use the word when teaching the book 9out of respect for current times) but in the book it is indeed a reflection of the times when the book was written and necessary for understanding the fullness of the transition huck makes in his mind.

  7. Tried to comment several times today, but apparently my work computer and this site don't get along :)
    Anyway, I thought you might be interested in checking out the great comments I got on this subject a few months ago: HERE. Great topic for discussion!

  8. the canadian regulatory agency for radio and tv ordered the word faggot be taken out of dire straight's money for nothing if it was to be broadcast on radio.

    it's like these dickheads sit around trying to think up stuff to protect their phoney baloney jobs.

  9. billy pilgrim- I think that may be exactly what they do. Job security.