4 January 2011

The adventures of Huckleberry Finn 2011

So now, the new editions of Huckleberry Finn are to be censored. They're replacing the word "nigger" with "slave." This is of course wrong on many many levels.

Quite aside from the fact the central purpose of the book is to highlight racism, you can't just retrospectively write the zeitgeist of a period out of books because according to contemporary values it has become offensive. It's the very reason historical novels should be preserved in their original forms.

This is how we make progress. We learn from our mistakes, we don't pretend they never happen. You can't learn from mistakes if they're erased from memory. When you do this you are just destined to repeat them.

It's also interesting that "slave" is the word they've chosen as the gentler noun to describe poor Jim. Mark Twain would not be happy with this.

What's a more abhorrent reflection on society, racial slurs or slavery? If you want people to forget an unpleasant chapter from your nation's past I would have thought slavery would come higher up on the list than verbal racist abuse?

Surely slavery is the ultimate demonstration of racial discrimination? I mean I can't of course speak for the African-Mercan community, but I'm quite sure they'd rather be called a nigger and be free than be addressed as Mister but forced into slavery.

If they're going to censor the book in order to spare the nations historical blushes, they'd be better served omitting any references to the enslaving of an entire race of people than the pervasive use of racial slurs. If you're going to lie make it a big one that's what I always say.

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