Monday, June 13, 2011

The Censorship of Huckleberry Finn

Last night, on 60 Minutes, they re-ran a piece on the new efforts to ban or censor Mark Twain's masterpiece novel Huckleberry Finn. Some — including some book publishers — have tried to hit what they think is a "middle ground" by simply replacing the word "nigger" everywhere Twain used it with the word "slave". That seems a reasonable "compromise", right?

Except for a couple of key things:

  1. That kind of change bastardizes Twain's greatest novel. Twain chose his words very carefully and specifically.
  2. The replacement is entirely innacurate. Jim describes himself as a nigger, and Jim is a free black man, not a slave.
These people should just leave well enough alone. Attempts like this never work out well.

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