Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Censorship is Stupid


So when I saw Huckleberry Finn trending on Twitter I felt a mixture of feelings, but mostly I was puzzled as to why and a how a classic novel found it's way onto the tending topics list. I was sure Justin Bieber must have been seen with the book or something equally appalling had happened. I was right about the appalling part, but was taken aback as to why the novel was trending.

According to my research a new version of Twain's classic story was going to have a little change to it. NewSouth Books have decided to replace the N word with Slave in their latest publication of the novel. According to www.ew.com they will also eliminate all occurrences of the word "injun".

Now I am about the most unracist person in the entire world. And yes I do see how the use of these as well as other racial and ethnic slangs can be harmful, but I also am highly against censorship. What's the point of reading a classic novel if parts are taken out of it. The key element of reading these classic novels is to really gain an understanding of the time period in which they were written.

Sure Tom and Huck may be fictional characters led on fictional adventures, but the mannerisms of the characters and the surroundings they encounter are really great ways to learn about the time in which Twain was crafting these novels. The word choices are elements just as important to the story as any other detail or description Twain carefully picked for his novel. I mean really replacing the n word with slave takes the whole thing out of context. I don't necessarily think the two words are synonyms nor that Twain meant the same thing as slave when he choose to use the n word.

The n word and "injun" may be controversial and harmful words now (and most certainly were equally as harmful then), but they were part of the everyday dialect. Taking these words out really is taking a part of the culture out of the novels. While I certainly would hope authors wouldn't choose to use either word now, I would hate to loose them in all ready existing novels.

I can see the argument of not wanting children to be exposed to these words and racial sentiments, but I certainly would not want my children to read a watered down version of a classic novel. Rather than taking these words out of the novel why not use this as a perfect opportunity for discussion of racial issues and why prejudice is unacceptable? Why can't teachers and parents take the time to teach their children good and bad rather than hiding the bad from them?

What do you guys thing? I know this is a little heavy compared to my normal posts, but I think censorship is something important to talk and be aware about. So, are you pro or anti censorship? Do you support the decision to replace the words?

Sound off. Let's talk!

1 comment:

  1. I bet Twain is rolling over in his grave. This is indeed changing the culture of the period, and Twain purposefully wrote in dialect. It would be akin to taking the movie Clueless and editing out the word "like".

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