So, for those who haven’t heard, Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan on releasing a version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with a couple of replacements. The book has been banned for the use of the words “nigger” and “Injun” from many libraries and schools. Gribben wants to replace both of those words, the N-word with the word “slave” and In-word with “Indian”. Basically, he wants to make a PC Huck because people seem to be unable to face some very uncomfortable truths about our history and the way people treated each other back then based solely on skin color. Essentially, teachers feel that the cannot teach the text in some districts based on the use of certain words and he was told that changing this would allow it to be taught in elementary schools.
I’m going to climb up on my soapbox for a minute, please forgive me, but this really bothers me.
*Whips a soapbox out of thin air and climbs up on top*
What I don’t understand is why we don’t trust our teachers to give the story historical context. Clearly, this book was not written for elementary school students. However, there are abridged versions that would be appropriate because they are written for a younger audience. If you wish the book, which was meant for young adults and adults, to be taught to elementary schools, then use the abridged versions. I think that altering the original text to make it less controversial is a form of censorship since they are specifically censoring those two words. As my friend told me the other day about my own writing, “Why would you want to make it easier? You’re trying to make a valid point in the scene and you want your reader to have a strong reaction to it. Make your point and do it the best way you know how.” So, why would we want to make it easier to forget that Twain was making a point about racism through the use of the words he chose? Why would we want to take that discussion out of the classrooms–which is where students are supposed to be learning–and censor it so that discussion never takes place?
*Gets down from her soapbox and calms herself down*
Now that I’ve ranted, it’s time for a bit of funny. Check the video, it’ll make you laugh and makes the point.