A certain Robert from Seattle asked this bitch for my thoughts on news that a publisher intends to replace language in Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.
Confession – I haven’t read Huckleberry Finn in years. Not since grade school, I think.
But I’d be fired up and ready to rumble if someone attempted to censor To Kill a Mockingbird just because they assume young people might get upset over language used in that book!
Anyhoo, I disagree with the decision to replace language in the book.
And I also disagree with some school districts’ decision to not offer Huckleberry Finn to students because it contains the “n” word.
Twain’s use of that word offers an opportunity to discuss it, why many find it offensive and to ponder why and how Twain used it. There is also an opportunity to explore the historical time in which Huckleberry Finn is set…what society was like in Missouri and what America was going through.
This planned censorship is disturbing for many reasons. My first thought was that the publisher was re-writing Twain based on the false assumption that only children read Huckleberry Finn. Further pondering made me reject the idea of re-writing Huckleberry Finn even if children are the only people reading it.
Literature allows for the exploration of the good, the bad and the ugly that is all around us and can be a useful tool for stimulating classroom discussions that help young people understand the good, the bad and the ugly.
Don’t get me wrong – I understand the concern over introducing young people to certain language. I recall an incident from my childhood that involved my class reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin and my fellow students giving me, one of the few black students, absolute hell and using language from the book to mock and tease me.
But that shit had more to do with my teacher failing to put a damn thing about that book into context…and one of my fellow students being a rancid little bigot.
I say leave Huckleberry Finn alone and offer more useful study guides for teachers, parents and students instead!
Thanks for asking.