Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Overheard on CNN.com: Revisiting 'Huckleberry Finn'

Quote of the day: “What’s next? We take out the sexual innuendo from Shakespeare? Or make Lenny Small “normal”? How about cut all the violence out of Clockwork Orange? ” –AA

 

No "n" word in new Huckleberry Finn

 

How much difference can one word make? In the case of Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” apparently quite a lot. Publisher NewSouth Books is releasing an edition of Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” with all instances of the “n” word replaced with the word “slave.” The effort is being spearheaded by Twain expert Alan Gribben who says this version will increase readership, particularly for school-aged children.

 

At the very least, the book is sparking a lively and thoughtful debate about censorship, race relations and the preservation of history, even the parts people would like to forget.

 

Amy said, “Race is still a very complicated matter in our country, especially in the South, and I hope this edition can make its way into classrooms where it wasn’t before.”

 

Chuck said, “I think the visceral reaction to the n-word is part and parcel to the impact the novel has. Understanding the n-word in the contemporary context and seeing it used in its historical context allows one to approach the subtlety and complexity of racism and how it can profoundly hurt but also, quite tragically, empower individuals -- something that is a key to understanding why racism exists at all.” Robert said, “If it is painful to hear that word, then let it be so. The classics teach us many things, and they aren’t always the most pleasant topics. All sides of humanity should be discussed, pleasant and otherwise.”

 

USARugby said, “It is censorship, even if for a good cause. Our world isn’t perfect, so if this is what it takes to get kids to read Twain, then so be it. I just hope they don’t stop publishing the original.” Idiots said, “Instead of editing a classic, why not let parents take the time to explain to their kids the meaning of the ‘n’ word, why it might be offensive to use it, and how it fits into our history.” Jay Thomason said, “Time to stockpile copies of the original so any kids and grandkids I have can know that the word and idiots that use it still exist.” BLM said, “This book is a reflection of the time in history in which it was written. To change the language is to change its history. It should be left as it is.”

 

jujube said, “So it’s a children’s edition of ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ Adults can and should still read the original. I don’t get the outrage.” Bobby said, “So we take the ‘n’ word out of Huck Finn, but all of these rappers and hip hop stars still say it every other word, and that’s fine?”

 

Child scavenges trash for survival

 

The story of a family in Afghanistan, representing the country’s problem with life-threatening poverty, brought a groundswell of support and outrage from CNN readers—as well as some comments about the U.S. war in Afghanistan and poverty in the United States.

 

ppython said, “These pictures and stories are heart wrenching. This, unfortunately, is the harsh reality. What have we achieved? All that we achieved in name of technology and better human life is just Illusion.” FinnMacCool said, “I am 16 years old. I have had one ‘job’ in my life: I worked as an official for a youth football (soccer) job and I go to school. However, the schooling is a privilege. I think about this little girl. She is 5 years old and responsible for the survival of a family. I believe I am a strong person, but nothing compares to her.”

 

desertrat201 wrote, “I'm tired of comments about how there's poverty in the U.S. too. Not like this. I'm not saying we shouldn't look after our own, because we should. But please. A child who starves or freezes to death in the U.S. is a victim of gross parental neglect and system failure -- so rare that it's a shocking headline, not a daily occurrence.”

 

nddd9 said, “One third of the world is obese and one-third of the world is starving. That's a sad fact.” lili1234 said, “Children deserve a better chance of survival than what it is shown in these pictures. Where is all our money going in Afghanistan?” rockycoast1 quipped, “Meanwhile Karzai and the warlords eat well.”

 

House GOP plan to repeal health care law

 

CNN readers mainly saw U.S. House of Representatives GOP efforts to repeal President Obama’s health care law as a political tactic or a lapse in judgment, while a few cheered their efforts.

 

Aboud said, “Fantastic. That’s why they got my vote. Repeal it, litigate it, or defund it. I don't care what they do. Just get rid of it.”

 

PalmReader quipped, “Meanwhile, let us continue fighting two wars, let us continue outsourcing jobs overseas, let us continue, and continue, and continue...getting nothing done.” Chenna said, “Wow. Really? At a time when many Americans are struggling and made it clear that Washington should be focusing on the jobs and the economy the new GOP Congress wants to waste time on this. Good grief.” Nadeem said, “Why not repeal their tax-payer-funded health care first. After they do that they can look at ours.”

 

Phil in KC said, “It's all for show. They know full well they cannot get it past the Senate. And, if they do, it will be vetoed by the president. They just want something they can twist around and turn into a campaign issue.” jules sand-perkins predicted that “This will be a dangerous battle.”

 

YOUR TURN: What do you think about these stories? We want to hear your thoughts. Post a comment below or sound off on video.

 

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

132 Comments
January 4, 2011
Click to view pogostick's profile

I understand that there is a need to be politically correct and not offend people with racial words but Huck Finn and many other books of that era used language that was of that time. It was how people talked. You don't change that.

 

Every ethnic group was referred to in derogatory terms Germans - Krauts, Italians - Guineas, Chinese -chinks etc. Do we rewrite all books, rewrite history? This published has decided to cave in to political pressure and sugar coat Mark Twain's language. They are spineless and pathetic for doing that.

 

January 4, 2011
Click to view Forrestal's profile

This effort to take out offensive words from Huckleberry Finn has been going on for years. It was just a matter of time before someone finally succeeded. Twain's been dead for 100 years. Why, not?  It's just a little matter of "Find What" and "Replace With." Amazing how easy it could be. A classic falls not with a bang, but a whimper. But that's the world we live in.

January 4, 2011
Click to view Pzig's profile

If we are going to take that word out of this book then we have to also remove it from ever rap song ever written...

 

 

January 4, 2011
Click to view sixoh1's profile

"Those who ignore history are dommed to repeat it"

I don't have a problem with an alternate version being published for those who prefer, or for classrooms. However, the real world is out there, and it cannot be ignored.

The word "nigger" seems to be a contraction that formed long before the 19th century, but has evolved into a word that blacks can use fluently, even as a term of endearment, but mysteriously points to sheer evil if anyone else uses it.

Reference the question in the context of Mark Twain and Lil Wayne.

January 4, 2011
Click to view XLGX's profile

I am a Black woman who grew up in the 50s and I disagree with removing the 'n' word from Huckleberry Finn, although I find the word offensive. Mark Twain's writings were a reflection of his time and the word should be left in to see it in it's historical context. I say 'historical'. Unfortunately black (that's right, BLACK) gangsta rappers have made this word as common and inoffensive as 'hello'. Personally, I find that more offensive than Mr. Twain's writings.

January 4, 2011
Click to view Forrestal's profile

This is the end result of where Political Correctness takes us. No one should be surprised or shocked. People WANT this.

January 4, 2011
Click to view SandraC's profile

Huck Finn is fiction, but it's a slice of history. As much as the Politically Correct want to have a massive case of revisionism, changing the historical context of this book is dreadfully wrong.  I read it when I was in school, warts and all, and it didn't turn me into someone who threw the "N" word around.

January 4, 2011
Click to view Forrestal's profile

Hold on to your copy of the book, SandraC. Fifty years from now, it might be worth some money.

January 4, 2011
Click to view sftommy's profile

Looks like history is being white-washed...

One more lesson from history our children won't have the chance to learn about in school.  Maybe in a couple of years we can just forget all about that slavery thing too and eliminate it from our literature?

January 4, 2011
Click to view ColtsMommy's profile

Next Michaelagelo's David will be wearing boxer shorts and Leonardo da Vinci's Madonna Litta will have to put a blanket over her breast feeding child.

 

The book is historically "accurate" of the time. By removing the N-word we are altering a bit of our history. History I hope we have learned from. If we alter this history due to the fact the word is offensive, embarrassing, and/or unsightly...what else will be altered/erased?

January 4, 2011
Click to view DadwithKids's profile

Take it out of modern "music" first, tis is Just o softer form of book burning.  If we lose the tone, context and history of our words they will continue to divide.

January 4, 2011
Click to view Robert451's profile

Teachers who do not have the courage to teach this book in its true form should not be allowed to teach it. And censors, educated or otherwise, should keep their hands off.

 

This is censorship of history, after all. It can do nothing but damage us as a people, nevermind how political correctness and false sensitivities have already made us that much weaker.

January 4, 2011
Click to view MaddogCT's profile

Huck was brought up that black people were less than human. But Huck, in his relationship with Jim, comes to realize that this is not true. His "heart" wins out over his "head". The use of the racial slur is not about demeaning black people, but rather to show the shallowness and ignorance of those who do.

Changing the mirror does not change the face being reflected.

January 4, 2011
Click to view pavers321's profile

I read Ten yes TEN (10) comments and all of them agree that this SHOULD NOT be done.  One has to ask - What more do you people want?  This is idiocy to the extreme.

 

 

January 4, 2011
Click to view Carolleigh's profile

The "n-word" is horribly offensive, as are other words in other pieces of literature.  But this is part of the great power literature holds to sway thoughts and hearts and minds. Students, when guided by thoughtful parents and teachers, can use Huck Finn to come to grips with our past, and to assure it is never so in our future.  Changing out this horrific term for "Slave"...shortchanges our youth, underestimates their ability to grapple with complex subject matter, and removes from them the possibility of hearing and understanding how hurtful and hateful speech can be.  This is censorship, plain and simple.

January 4, 2011
Click to view mattmchugh's profile

I have a question for "Twain expert" Alan Gribben and whatever commercial publisher you're in cahoots with:  how much money are you hoping to make selling your expurgated edition?  Because that's what this is obviously all about.  It sure isn't about acquainting youngsters with a widely available public domain work sans offensive language, because elementary school teachers do that every day now.

 

Point the finger at the real villains here.  Not teachers and school boards wisely reluctant to use potentially inflammatory vocabulary in front of pre-teens but (ahem) "Twain expert" Alan Gribben and the profiteering paper pushers he's fronting for.

 

-- mm

 

January 4, 2011
Click to view kimsland's profile

I understand that this will help if this classic book was used and read out in schools by students.

 

But changing words and censorship due to present beliefs and laws loses the original point and moves it away from the feelings of others in those times.

 

I don't see the word computer used in the book either, should we some how change a word here or there to introduce that as well?

 

This book was written before the N word was seen as racist or violent to others (at least from the white children at the time) It should be kept in place. Otherwise rename this NEW book Huckleberry Fin the sequel or something

January 4, 2011
Click to view Lucrezia's profile

Changing art destroys art and creates propaganda, as if to say, "Maybe the culture of slavery in the South wasn't so demeaning."  The use of the racial epithet was part of the maintenance of slavery.  Conrad shows this same thing in a Heart of Darkness when the natives are labeled as other-than-human by the Europeans.  Language controls thought which controls action.  It makes it much easier to kill and abuse human beings when we are labeled in the pejorative.

January 4, 2011
Click to view antikrist's profile

Use of the word is historical and necessary. People need to drop their hypersensitivities. After all how can we learn from our history if we sanitize it?

January 4, 2011
Click to view iRobot's profile

The book was written with the word in it. Get over it. It's just a word. There are lots of words that some people don't like, but again, they are just words.

 

Twain had the right to put the word in. Someone else shouldn't have the right to change his words because they don't like them. If they change his words, then they are rewriting his work, and plagiarizing most of it.

 

People that don't like words don't have to read books, or watch movies, or go out of the house for that matter. Or listen to music.

January 4, 2011
Click to view kkreiter11's profile

I am currently a Junior in high school and for my English class we are reading the un-edited version of Huckleberry Finn. I find nothing wrong with the the "n word" being used in this novel. it was written in a time where it was commonly used. This piece is one of the greatest writings in American Literature. Society needs to evolve but accept the past. I agree with the fact that this word should not be used in common day but with all the rap music and influence from adults and teens, swears will be learned and repeated. Let me guess, the next that they will edit is the religion from this book. Why can't people accept the past?

January 4, 2011
Click to view bluedawn27's profile

Forrestal, heh, good point. Maybe we should all go out and buy copies of the original and pass them down to our kids' kids' kids. Could be worth money by then. Seriously, though, I never liked seeing that word when I read the book or others like it, but I came to accept that that was simply how it was back then. Besides making it sound artificial by trying to PC it is also like trying to whitewash over the ugliness of the way things were back then.

January 4, 2011
Click to view jessica378's profile

How about all the rap songs that use that word? What a bunch of crap. Such a double standard.

January 4, 2011
Click to view MarkRH's profile

What's the big deal? The original text is still available and now there's an edited version for tender eyes. We accept without controversy that half the songs on the radio and all the reality TV shows contain bleeps so a excising the N word from a book is no different.  

January 4, 2011
Click to view dersu's profile

I can certainly understand this word being reprehensible in this day and age. I think it to be so. I have been called this name by people, and it hurts. However, I don't believe in editing material from a time that was not as PC as ours, because it would be like hiding history from people. I think a foreword intelligently written could address the fact that the word is used in the book and explain the historical context of the terminology, as well as the history of racisim as it applies to the time being portrayed in the book. Also, perhaps the book should be assigned to a slightly older poulation of students than it has traditionally been assigned.

January 4, 2011
Click to view jnisley's profile

I am senior in high school and also read the uncensored book this year. I seriously think the book with the "n" word would be spineless. Twain's greatest point is to show how repulsive racism can be. By the time I finished the book I was so tired of and disgusted by the word it actually lowered the chance I would ever use it as a racial slur. Twain makes his point by disgusting us with the stupid, ignorant, arrogant people who use the word.

January 4, 2011
Click to view schwar46's profile

And so the censorship begins. Smiley faced fascism begins.

January 4, 2011
Click to view TSA007's profile

I think 60's comic Lenny Bruce said it best about that word. I'm not going to go through the entire schpeel but in essence, he said don't censor it (or any other racial slur) but instead use it so much until it no longer has any powerful meaning and is just a word. In other words, today, we are celebrating the power of that word by censoring it.  

January 4, 2011
Click to view lean6's profile

If they want to leave the word in there, let them. But don't make minority children have to read it in schools the way that I did in 5th grade. People who say they don't understand are either full of crap or just stooopid.

January 4, 2011
Click to view garyvnichols's profile

I am sick and tired of revisionists. As a historian I've seen revisionist historians coming out of the woodwork trying to change the past. The same goes for literature. This is a historical work written at a time when that word was common place. Are we also going to start doing this with movies? How about remaking Gone With The Wind and turn the slaves into entrepreneurs who happen to live at a large plantation? Could we stop worrying about not offending people and worry about NOT CHANGING HISTORY? The language of Huck Finn is there for a reason, I saw we do not make any changes until we can sit down with Mark Twain, discuss it, and get his approval.

January 4, 2011
Click to view DesertTrippr's profile

This knee-jerk sanitizing of every little thing that just might be offensive to some person somewhere is just going to help even more to make this up-and-coming  generation the blandest and most paranoid ever. Whatever happened to "sticks and stones...?" What's next, an n-word-free version of Blazing Saddles?

January 4, 2011
Click to view firedlawyer's profile

I believe the n word had a much different meaning when the book was written than the extremely derogatory one it has now. And by stating that, I am not endorsing its use then or now. On the other hand, if Twain's novel is to be made PC, I would like to see all references to cracker, redneck, honky, pinky, white mf'er and similar terms in other works of fiction and song lyrics changed. 

January 4, 2011
Click to view howlyn's profile

Oh my gosh. This is pure, unadulterated censorship of pivotal art. Almost unbelievable.

January 4, 2011
Click to view 2ndgenUS's profile

Figures

January 4, 2011
Click to view LdyDragonfly's profile

Absolutely stupid. 

To remove it from his work... better ban it from all the rap song too. 

 

Only fair. 

January 4, 2011
Click to view rcasteel's profile

The "N" word must not be too offensive to blacks, they are practically the only ones I hear use it.

January 4, 2011
Click to view Boston777's profile

Stupid.

January 4, 2011
Click to view kgreely's profile

It takes a crazy person to say that the n word is not offensive to black people , as if you have ever talked to all black people and asked if it was. Why do we not go back to the stone age if that is what you people think .

January 4, 2011
Click to view PJW1951's profile

This is   removing a central way of speaking  iion the Missippi  river  in the  mid 19th  century

January 4, 2011
Click to view amhoney's profile

When an African American male rapper gets upset about the misogynist wording in their songs or when the average African American male reads a work of literary fiction from the 19th century and finds the blatant hatred of women by Hemingway offensive then we are PC. Right now all you are telling me with this story is that I now have a new master, a new male that is way more important than me on the Human Rights scale.

January 4, 2011
Click to view Ringtail11's profile

So it is O.K. for Frederick Douglass' Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave, to have the n word in it and be in schools, but not Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn?

 

The only difference is that one author is black and the other is white and until we all get past this there will still be racism in this country.

January 4, 2011
Click to view carlaAxelson's profile

I have sat on this for about an hour before responding. I understand why some parents would want to be cautious of their children are exposed to. However, when we start censoring some of the greatest works, we short change them of learning of various times in history.  We sure have a lot to be ashamed of in our history and hopefully by reading the actual works of Huck Finn, they will learn that change is possible. To this day, there is still a great amount of racism and kids need to read this in order to change the future. Why not remove all the works from the Holocaust also so that we don't expose our kids to horrible things from the past? I can't remember who posted earlier about plagiarism but they are very right. In college, they taught us by even just changing one word in someone else's work is clearly plagiarism. I would like to hear more from the black community on what they feel about this censorship. I am going to start a petition on Facebook to have this censorship stopped. I hope you join me.

January 4, 2011
Click to view kana60's profile

F

      1. Political correctness!

 

January 4, 2011
Click to view kgreely's profile

A rapper does not speak for the black people in this country , just as a rock stardoes not speakes for all white people . Plus 75% of rap songs in this country are sold to white  kids so check your own house.  

January 4, 2011
Click to view chetwolfe's profile

@XLGX... well said! 

We shouldn't try to pretend that certain things did not happen in the past.  People have been fearful and hate filled of others from the dawn of time.  Sweeping this unpleasant truth under the rug will not make things better.  We must learn from the mistakes of the past so that we won't repeat them in the future.

And can we please stop calling it "the N-word".  We are talking about the word "nigger", a hateful, unpleasant word.  But by shying away from it, you are engaging in your own form of censorship.  Let us see the the mistakes of the past clearly, and let us judge and be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character (to paraphrase a very wise man).

January 4, 2011
Click to view zodiacbud's profile

What a bunch of silliness.

January 4, 2011
Click to view animaguskatt's profile

Replacing the word with "slave" takes the harshness out of the intent of the word choice. Calling someone "slave" isn't an insult, but using the n-word obviously is.

 

I can see why schools might want a version for their students that did not include the n-word. But if they were going to substitute it with anything, it should have been "Negro," which is also an offensive term but not as vile as the n-word. Using that term instead of "slave" would have more accurately expressed the intent of character dialogue.

January 4, 2011
Click to view Ragsntags's profile

The 'n' word is just an offshoot of the word Niger.

It has now changed to mean a derogatory name for our black brethren.

January 4, 2011
Click to view kgreely's profile

I am glad to see that the 20 plus years that I have been fighting for this country  and we still can not learn from the past , a word like nigger is a hateful word nomatter who is saying it .That word as with alot more should not be used and anyone who thinks it should needs to get a life and grow up.

    

January 4, 2011
Click to view DarkLogic's profile

As George Santayana put it, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." If we don't teach kids precisely why this word is inappropriate, what's to stop them from using it?

January 4, 2011
Click to view Froderick's profile

Han shot first!  But at least it was the creator of the movie that made those "revisions". In this case the author has no say in what is being done with his work. I hate it when history is changed to protect the "innocent", who some people think can't handle it.  Step up to the real world boys and girls, it's not a candy coated walk through the park.

January 4, 2011
Click to view CaptHuffnpuf's profile

The language in the novel is contemporary to the time, though it is, to some, coarse. It emphasizes the gulf between the white and black people because, even then, the epithet "nigger" was a slur, especially used by poor white trash. "Negro" and "Negra" (a southern pronunciation) were the PC terms of the time. Of course, Jim was a slave, but "nigger" emphasizes the theme that Huck and Jim were "outcasts" on the river, a "white" boy and a "nigger", an inconceivable pair of companions. Even then it caused a visceral reaction for many. Emasculating Twain's work for some notion of contemporary "political correctness" detracts from the impact of the novel and distorts the his view of the times. The amazing thing to me is that the "nigger" is used today freely amongst the black ethnic groups, being either a friendly term or a derogatory one. If the ethnic group really wanted to censor the world they wold stop using it themselves.

January 4, 2011
Click to view ancientone's profile

How dare we insult the memory of those who endured the use of these words and not only survived but in some cases overcame them to succeed by taking them out of a book in which their use was to point out how horrendous they were?

 

There are already abridged versions out there for those too young of age or maturity to read the original. This would not be the same as the changes would be much more subtle.

 

Anyone else find it ironic that we cannot write out the offending word when we discuss it? We have already censored ourselves.

 

We are making ourselves feel better, not by our own work, but by trashing a work of genius. And then have the nerve to use it in so called music and those so called artist make fortunes.

 

Weep for our future for we are whitewashing our past.

 

January 4, 2011
Click to view DCrum35's profile

Do you how many books we could go back and make "PC" for language and violence and sex?  This is ridiculous.

This country is killing itself from within on two fronts:

1.  Trying to be way too PC and appease everyone and anyone who screams loud enough

2.  Spending ourselves into oblivion

January 4, 2011
Click to view tigerschula's profile

i under stand the point  but give me a break  are you all gonna rewrite every book that says nigger in it?  theres a reason its called a classic  but you go and re write it its not a classic any more that messed up

January 4, 2011
Click to view jammer5's profile

Changing this isn't going to make the history of the early United States go away. If we intentionally modify the lessons of the past to suit the changing needs of the present, we are doomed to revisit them in the future.

 

This is horribly unjust to modify a classic piece of literature.

January 4, 2011
Click to view military728's profile

    I work at a state penn the blacks have no problem calling each other the N work or calling us co`s the same. Also if there is such a problem with it start taking the word out of all the rap songs. In other words let it alone it`s been like that for years GET OVER IT.  IT`S A WORD thats all it is

January 4, 2011
Click to view foreverwar's profile

It reminds me of other sanitized works of art, it may have been done with good intention, but the art is mutilated.

January 4, 2011
Click to view DrLaxSlax's profile

Yawn...more PC BS...if we erase it, it never happened.

 

Why do we a a society empower this word so much...Richard Pryor called the word Nigger dead back in 1981...and yet we still let it tear races apart

 

It's a word...nothing more...those that use it now as a derogatory sense are losers and complaining about a word just lets them win.

 

Words hurt only if you let them...

January 4, 2011
Click to view dailylooker's profile

Please, let not Tipper Gore all of our history and water it down to nothing for our young to learn from.  The greatest beneficiaries of the civil war should not also benefit from the rewriting and watering down of our history.  Our young deserve our best which includes the lessons learned and why.

January 4, 2011
Click to view nicksmyth's profile

When it comes to heavy and liberal editing, ghost writing and gross distortion of an original work two words come to mind: New Testament

January 4, 2011
Click to view professor1's profile

People who are offended by the n-word in Huckleberry Finn do not get it. By using the word, and showing by his characters how dehumanized blacks were at the time (1850's), and then viewing this all through the eyes of Huck, Jim's friend, he was writing biting social commentary. He was writing in the 1880's, just after Reconstruction and just before Jim Crow was beginning. It is a beautiful piece of work and I'm sorry, no one has the right to cut pieces out of it and paste in vanilla to appease someone's sensitivities. 

January 4, 2011
Click to view yojimbo1941's profile

Put the word back in, understand the context and intent that Twain had by including it, and never forget what the word means.  We're not going to get anywhere by burying words in the sand and thereby forgetting the lessons about those words.  Will future generations still understand how explosive that word is (and how a word can attain such a placement) if all instances of it are obliterated?

January 4, 2011
Click to view kmberger01's profile

This is political correctness at its very worst form.  Come on, Mark Twain is important as an author representing a period in US history that kids must learn and understand, otherwise they will grow up to repeat the mistakes of the past.  Yes, the N word is offensive; so is Honky, and whole list of other words.  But when we study literature we read it as it was written, not sanitized.

January 4, 2011
Click to view Nei's profile
Nei

So many ways to go with this. Children are already exposed to the word through pop music and they think it's cool. They need to be made uncomfortable by things and then have structured discussions about it with peers and adults in an ordered environment. At least, that's what I called learning when I was growing up.

 

Censoring in this instance castrates the ugliness of this character and misses the whole point. He is an ugly soul, one with lessons to teach even in modern context. Right off the top of my head? In one sense, he's a bully. Plug in whatever social group you want. We're all up in arms about bullying these days and yet want to blow a golden opportunity with a classic text to say, "See what this looks like? See how horrible and weak it really makes you?" But no, we're too busy wrapping the kids in bubblewrap and sticking them in hermetically sealed existences, and then we wonder why they're last in the world in schools, can't face adversity and have no ability to think for themselves.

January 4, 2011
Click to view AwesomeSaucy's profile

Part of learning from the past is accepting that bad things exist. You can't change that.

January 4, 2011
Click to view SlimPickins7's profile

you cant just write out the parts of history you dont like, or else your doomed to repeat them. 

January 4, 2011
Click to view 03bignasty's profile

I read this book as a child and it truly moved me. I was furious at him for including his depiction of African Americans in his books. While the book was interesting, the words cut and left a lasting impression on me. This is actually what good writers do. They draw emotions out of the readers. When you change the word nigger to slave you will remove the gut wrenching emotion that I felt when I read the book from a generation of children. To them it will simply be another book, a book that will be read and forgotten. JMHO

January 4, 2011
Click to view meese1960's profile

Just the absolute worst in terms of political correctness. Might as well sanitize all literature and turn it into some G rated movie.

January 4, 2011
Click to view wrlord's profile

This is absurd. If Twain had meant to use "Slave" he would have. Now people want inoffensive art. Why not just lobotomize the populace and be done with it?

January 4, 2011
Click to view 03bignasty's profile

Good Point Slim Pickins. A long time ago a man wrote....

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

 

 

January 4, 2011
Click to view VegasRage1's profile

Yes let's erase the evils of history so we can make all the same horrific mistakes again.

January 4, 2011
Click to view mab91c's profile

Yep, let's get rid of Nigger in Huck Finn, then we can start on all the other offensive words that have ever been used: Kike, Hebe, Hymie, WOP, Slope, Chink, Gook, Nip, Cracker, Honky, Redneck, Peckerwood, Mick, Paddy, Pogue, Taig, Dago, Beaner, Spick, etc. Oh, just remember, if they remove Nigger from Huck Finn, it should also be banned from all rap songs, movies, Comedy TV (Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, etc.)

 

Deal?

January 4, 2011
Click to view jquinn15's profile

Pretending that the ugly parts of American history never happened isn't doing anyone any favors! I want my child to learn from the mistakes of the past, not act as if they never happened! Should he be outraged and uncomfortable when he reads these words? Absolutely! That is exactly the point. I mean, Huckleberry Finn is a novel about a boy who realizes that he must follow the sound of his own conscience and do what he knows is right rather than simply doing what society (and the majority) tells him he should do. What better lesson is there?! I absolutely want my child to have the courage to do exactly this when the time comes, which it inevitably will. Do I want people calling my child this word today? Absolutely not! But I do want my child to learn the lessons that the mistakes of the past have taught us! I want him to know that the freedom he enjoys today came at a great cost to many people- both black and white- people who were willing to listen to the sound of their own consciences, look the majority in their faces, and say, "That is wrong! That is wrong, and I refuse- I absolutely refuse- to pretend that it isn't!" Changing these words to make the novel more politically correct for students is a problem because the ignorant people in this novel weren't meant to be "correct" in the first place, and realizing that is a big part of Huck's journey!

January 4, 2011
Click to view AllSeeingEye's profile

I think we should really sanitize the nazi regime so they won't seem so mean to future generations.  I bet we could get them cleaned up enough that they'd just seem like misunderstood young men in clean brown shirts.

January 4, 2011
Click to view LookWithin's profile

This is sad.  Mark Twain was, among other things, an abolitionist. This word is not his creation. He uses language that captures the reality of the time. He bares witness to how people felt and spoke - commonly. Our children need to know this...it is part of our history. He provides a critical "teachable moment" for all.

 

Not to mention, the word "slave" seems like a poor substitute. Twain is either turning over in his grave or having a good laugh at us.

January 4, 2011
Click to view Willard42's profile

Next...WWII with no Nazis. I guess if you keep erasing the past it'll be brand new when all that stupidy rolls around again.

January 5, 2011
Click to view CalifRat's profile

Huck Finn loved "the N....Jim".  His use of the word demonstrated his nievity.  His guilt was that he was going to hell for helping him escape, and the book was about how he justified in his conscience doing wrong (helping Jim Escape), over doing "right" turning Jim in.  Huck was clearly an extreme forward thinking boy from the South.  The word, in his own personal context, did not offend him.  So it should not offend you.  Be more like Huck Finn.

January 5, 2011
Click to view josex's profile

The original remains in place, but the point is that people that would have avoided the entire work because of some issue or other now will be able to gain from it.

January 5, 2011
Click to view harryreid's profile

Political Correctness is a doctrine fostered by a delusional,illogical minority, and rapidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end'

January 5, 2011
Click to view LemK's profile

I'm sure this has been pointed out already, but the two words do not mean the same thing.

January 5, 2011
Click to view rubyvaio's profile

Nuck Ninn.Whats next?

January 5, 2011
Click to view CatharineH's profile

The same happened with Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians". By the time I read it in high school, it was called, "And Then There Was One." Not quite the original!

January 5, 2011
Click to view ak2190's profile

Leave art and history unchanged from its original form. I am not white and I have no qualms about reading history the way it was: full of unpleasant and terrible things along with the good things. The point of the novel is that we realize how easy it is to dehumanize people in order to take advantage of them. Twain was a genius and he portrayed this theme incredibly well with his use of language, including the 'n' word to show how the world was back then. Changing his language will reduce the power of his work and the visceral reaction readers have to it. Students should be taught to understand the work in its context and what it represents, beyond just that one word. Don't rewrite history, and don't censor the work of a literary genius.

January 5, 2011
Click to view Annexian's profile

I'll somewhat attempt to quote C.S. Lewis in that children should not be shielded from how ugly and beautiful a world it is...

January 5, 2011
Click to view Patches222's profile

Absolutely ridiculous. When these "gansta rappers" with more gold in their mouths than brains in their heads stop using the N word every OTHER word in their "music", maybe this should be done after that, but until then, no. Just.. NO.

January 5, 2011
Click to view Reason401's profile

Let's also take all of those salacious adultery stories out of the Bible.  We might cry otherwize.

January 5, 2011
Click to view ashestostars's profile

nigger nigger nigger

January 5, 2011
Click to view kevintro's profile

Niggers, Niggers, Niggers

January 5, 2011
Click to view tina1649's profile

Censorship is censorship.   Mark Twain was an exceptionally brilliant writer and he wrote about things and language that happened in our history.  To "whitewash" or exchange the word "nigger" with "slave" is pure crap and anyone with any intelligence can see through that.   

January 5, 2011
Click to view abby989's profile

A historical novel and some one wants to have it re written so the word nigger is not there anymore, are we going to bring Mark Twain back to do the re write, sad thing is thats not even his real name for any one out there that claims to an expert (Alan Gribben),BUT next time some one calls me a honky or cracker , Thet'll see how much of a redneck i am and I'll be the one who screams racism, My best friend in high school was as black as night sky, but we still used nigger,

are we going to re write all books about Nam, that have GOOK in it or anything about "native americans" that has wagon burner or savages in it. GET A GRIP ITS ONE WORD AND TAKEN IN CONTEXT TO THE TIMES as when book was written it was an acceptable word. Lets concentrate on issues that are more important than the word nigger in a historically significant book, Seriously Alan Gribben get a grip you no neck cracker

January 5, 2011
Click to view awesomeandy's profile

There has to be a point where education took a back seat in this country.  I'm sorry, while taking out the N-word to some is trivial, it's very much a big deal.  This is how they talked back then.  A lot of sick things happened in history just as much as a lot of sick things are happening now.  People used foul language back then, and they still use it now.

 

You don't just take away words and hope that no one ever uses them again.  Educate the damn children.  Stop being so damn afraid of knowledge.  Teach them the meaning of the word, and not just that one, but help them to understand that what they say and what they do actually does make a difference to others.  Protect children from people that would hurt them, but stop being afraid to educate them about the world. 

 

So you take it out of a book?  What about everyone that still uses the word in popular media and everyday speech?  Teach them about it and then let them decide what to do with it.  If Xbox Live is any indication, then Mark Twain is the least of anyone's worries.

January 5, 2011
Click to view weirdmn's profile

It is only logical that “Where they burn books, they will ultimately also burn people,” would be proceeded by "Where people re-write books, they will ultimately also re-write history."

January 5, 2011
Click to view ers2258's profile

If we were to also take all of the "N" words out of "CNN" then there would only be "C" unless the Caucasian race were to suddenly get up in arms about being called a Caucasian and then "IT" would then become the "C" word and "CNN" would become alphabetically non-existent.

January 5, 2011
Click to view KinjiruRM's profile

What a nation of whiners we are. Leave literary history alone. If you can't handle the words in the book, don't read it.

January 5, 2011
Click to view Savviest's profile

Honkey, spic, wap, jap, redskin, nigger.  None of them scare me or offend me. I'm far more scared of someone with a gun, a knife, a bomb, etc...

January 5, 2011
Click to view MSS1086's profile

The presence of this derogatory language in classic literature should be an indicator of progress. It reminds us of the prevailing social norms of that time and how far we've come. If we are going to censor history of anything unpleasant we should stop teaching children about the plight of then the Native Americans or or the Holocaust. In general, history is not pleasant and if we portray it as such we are in danger of not learning anything from it.

January 5, 2011
Click to view tphin's profile

Nigger.

There, I said it.

January 5, 2011
Click to view U2SR71's profile

Those who ignore (or erase, alter, or manipulate) history are doomed to repeat it. It's akin to the Pope putting fig leaves over the genetalia of some of the Roman marble likenesses in Italy, book burning by the Nazi's, and the general sanitization of history as taught in schools today. Literature of the period (or any period) should remain to stand as written- it may prompt questions of the reader about the periods reflected, inspire debate and concerns about present day ramifications of that point of view, and demonstrates how we have progressed (or regressed) as a people.

Do not sanitize history for the protection of our children's modesties. Our history, mistakes and missteps all, should be shown as close to the truth as the intrusive interpretations of historians will allow.

January 5, 2011
Click to view Bear1954's profile

This is a terrible desecration of a classic piece of literature!  The word is offensive yes, but the story as written by Mark Twain should not be tampered with.  It is a part of our history and Twain wrote the story to poke the conscience of a nation mired in the horror of slavery.  The current obsession with political correctness may in some cases is justified, but censorship and the wanton destruction of a piece of literature is unconscionable and more than a little ridiculous.

January 5, 2011
Click to view sybillings's profile

History isn't always pleasant or pretty, but that time is what we were, like it or not.  But as Reagan said, if we don't know where we've been how do we know where we are going? Good teachers can use this as a learning experience to ask why and how. So, I don't think we should change the book.  If we do, then as others have said, stop every rap song out there, because the rap songs are extremely offensive.  What about Uncle Tom's Cabin, Gone with the Wind, are they next?

January 5, 2011
Click to view scawa's profile

Mark Twain put that word in his book precisely to demonstrate prejudice.  It was not a word he used lightly or often. It is there to demonstrate a mind set of the people at the time of the Civil War and post Civil War era, in an effort to change their minds towards the treatment of a group of people.  Removing or changing the word in his books remove the significance of the plot line and the intention of the book Huck Fin...

 

Simple minded people who cannot read beyond a single word need to become more educated and understand what Samuel Clemens was trying to do.  Literature doesn't stand alone and neither do the words included (or removed) in a text.

January 5, 2011
Click to view fredishere's profile

What a joke. It sounds like something the Catholic Church would do.

January 5, 2011
Click to view OLR333's profile

Go ahead and do what you want to this classic novel.  However, when you're finished, give it another title because it won't be the same one Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain wrote.

January 5, 2011
Click to view Aalan's profile

While it may make whites more comfortable reading it, I think black, slave descendant Americans are fine with history being accurate.

January 5, 2011
Click to view thenextstep's profile

What about black wrap. Look at all the words in that crap. Clean that crap up too before you go touching good, sound history reading...........

January 5, 2011
Click to view citizenUSA's profile

As distasteful as we, (should), find the word, it's part of the storytelling and literature. It's a reflection of the times. As some already pointed out it was more of the absurdity of it. We do bleep it out of movies on network TV but the "pay for" channels still keep it in. For good or bad it's a part of our history that needs to be remembered to remind us of our shame. Otherwise we might as well put Fruit of the Loom's on the statue of David and a bra on Venus De Milo. If it's too offensive for gradeschool age children then they should take it off the reading list. The problem with that is when you're older and can appreciate it better, that kind of story is not very appealing so you likely won't read it.

January 5, 2011
Click to view bigdaddysean's profile

So sensor one of this country's greatest authors, but it's ok to let your kids listen to "music" when every other word is N---- this, and N----..... Goodby sweet America!!

January 5, 2011
Click to view buck0five's profile

This is so stupid.  The posibility of insulting someone with the N word in classic literature is means to change it.  Give me a break.  Every, and I mean every rap artist uses the N word in their lyrics.   The whole PC thing is getting out of hand.  Get a grip schools.  If they listen to it on their IPOD and on the radio, why can't they read it in a classic.

January 5, 2011
Click to view KuntaKente's profile

The "N" word can be used in every piece of crap violent rap song, but its being taken out of a piece of American literature?? The stupidity of mankind is amazing, political correctness is out of hand and changeing literature because we might not like something written in it is the equivalent of censorship and censorship is an extremely scary concept.

January 5, 2011
Click to view Daveinla's profile

Ahhhh right out of Orwell's 1984. Big Brother is watching you.Whats next for PC liberals...a 5 year plan to edit all our great written works.

January 5, 2011
Click to view coot's profile

If Martin Luther King could come back to day he would be outraged with the way the African Americans has diluted our society with the very things that he preached against

He would be so ashamed of his people that he would say my people you do not deserve freedom and ask oh God what have i done.

 

January 5, 2011
Click to view istorybuff's profile

Ignoring the lessons of the past is not an answer to the social problems of today.  Taking out the "n" word is tantamount to saying the holocaust didn't happen.  Our past is simply that and if we chose to erase the parts that are condisered bad then we take away all our ability to learn from those mistakes.  I believe Winston Churchil said it best, "those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it".

January 5, 2011
Click to view chudking's profile

Taking out the n-word just prevents the kids from learning how to spell a word that is repeated all the time in the hip-hop popular music they listen too.

 

 

January 5, 2011
Click to view Nodule's profile

This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever read.  The book was written in the "language of the time" if you will and is a classic.

 

I propose that any book with the words spic, honky, kike, kraut, wop, dego, cracker, "indian" instead of "native american", and any other non-PC term be changed immediately.  I want this to go for the music, movies, and TV shows as well while we are at it. 

 

When you force the past to change and don't teach the young the mistakes we made; then they will eventually duplicate them because they won't know any better. 

January 5, 2011
Click to view JanetMermaid's profile

Let's rewrite all the history books, too, while we're at it. We can replace "holocaust" with "difference of opinion" and "inquisition" with "religious oppression". Maybe we should rewrite the bible, too, and replace all those out of date uses of "thou" and "thine" with "y'all".

January 5, 2011
Click to view buckydog's profile

OK, If that's the way you want it to be, all the rap recordings with the n-word must have it bleeped out.  Whites no longer use this word, it's a black thing.  NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER....  If you say it enough it looses its meaning.

January 5, 2011
Click to view Ramrods's profile

It's time for taking being PC too far. This is a novel penned by a famous author. In it's time, it was acceptable language. Editing today is censorship, a constitutional issue, for the sake of being PC TODAY!!

We could literally rewrite MOST novels for political incorrectness.

Get a grip people. Fix the Bible, change the facts about the holocaust, edit "Patton" for the sake of being PC!! It could go on forever.

January 5, 2011
Click to view istorybuff's profile

The thought occurred to me that this publisher has found a way to simply generate profite at the expense of a classic.  This shows a lack of responsiblity and respect for them.  I guess censorship has now become profitable!!!  It's my guess these copies will fly off the shelves and the publisher will be laughing all the way to the bank.  Maybe we can replace the white whale with a blue fin tuna or better yet uncle Tom with a loving aunt Harriet.

January 5, 2011
Click to view Capnmike's profile

What's next for these idiots, taking some cement and putting a bikini top on the Venus de Milo? This novel is a work of great art...too bad if somebody is "offended". Mark Twain was a great writer...these people are small-minded jackwads.

January 5, 2011
Click to view IceT's profile

There is a subtle flavor to every book and every writer.  Changing even one ingredient, even to be less bitter, dilutes the experience intended by the writer.

January 5, 2011
Click to view swood's profile

Please, we have to moderate this insane overreaction to this 'racist word'.  If we remove it from this book, I've got a long list of other books that contain it.  But, I'm offended by many passages of the bible and it's views on women - so maybe that should be next on the chopping block....

January 5, 2011
Click to view jcreely's profile

From the looks of the comments here, it seems that nearly 100 percent of people disagree with removing the 'N' word.  I also disagree.  Yes the word is offensive, but as adults our society should be mature and intelligent enough to understand the time in which it was written and the meaning behind it. Ans as long as adults in society are doing their jobs as parents, they should be able to teach their kids about where the use of this word is appropriate and where it is not.

January 5, 2011
Click to view xforward's profile

It didn't come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God. Today, thanks to them, you can stay happy all the time, you are allowed to read comics, the good old confessions, or trade journals.

 

Colored people don't like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don't feel good about Uncle Tom's Cabin. Burn it.

 

--Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1953)

January 5, 2011
Click to view swood's profile

If Mark Twain had been black, then I guess the word in the book wouldn't be offensive.  Is there some bizarre double standard going on here, or am I just missing something?

January 5, 2011
Click to view ben07's profile

Mark Twain wrote a story that reflected the time in which the story was set. The "n" word was used in the time period reflected. Like it or not this is a part of our history and if we dont accept it and look at the story from academic prospective as well as an opportunity to educate ourselves for a better future we are doomed to repeat history, as well as promote ignorance in the youth of today.

January 5, 2011
Click to view troybuildsit's profile

I read Twain over fifty years ago, I found the use of the "N" word offensive then, long before it was fashionable for a young white man in the south to feel that way.  I also find the writings and speches of Hitler offensive.  I find the writings, speches and actions of many historis figures highly offensive. Be careful walking out on a frozen lake. They started rewriting books in Germany in the late 1930's and it has happened many times in history.  We need to read and study history as it was and for what is was.  Or we will never learn from the mistakes of others and ourselves.

January 5, 2011
Click to view jlu04's profile

I think Mark Twain's book, Huckleberry Finn, should not be changed in any way! I had to read that book in 6th grade. We had few blacks in my school (maybe 3 at that time), but reading that book didn't make me want to use the 'n' word against them. I dislike that word no one I was around used that word. So if someone reads it and decides to use it, then their environment should be looked at. We have movies, songs and neighbors who constantly use that word and usually amongst each other. If they can say it to each other's face, then a book (written long ago) should be able to contain that word. Being used in school, it's the educators job to explain why that word is used, why it was chosen. You don't hand a child that book and let them go, it's a book that should be discussed and examined. There's nothing wrong with it.

January 5, 2011
Click to view JedFishGould's profile

Wow. A Mark Twain expert censoring the master! What a betrayal.

 

If this has to happen to get the book placed in schools --- AND if the original is still there for those who want it --- no hideous harm done. But calling it an update is disingenuous. All books are already placed in the context of when they were written. They have publishing dates.

 

"Injun" (which we don't yet have to call the "I-word," I see) is a pronunciation, not a pejorative term. Useless censorship.

 

Fascinating how the PC movement has thrust their n-word seemingly words beyond the offensiveness in the f-word, s-word, and even the c-word. Does this sound insane to anyone else? Does this insult the intelligence of readers of all races and ages? Whatever the case, is being momentarily offended really so awful and unique today? We can talk to others about our feelings if it is.

 

Are we giving the n-word itself too much power by making all this fuss?

 

These fools certainly have their work cut out for them if they intend to scrub the classics.

 

January 5, 2011
Click to view NolaBusch's profile

This upsets me too. The strong language of this historical masterpiece was made for a reason. There have been studies written about little more then a sentence from this book and you want to change this. Who ever is doing this should just take a day and read the book. Jim is called this because that is how he would have been referred to at this time in history. It is meant to belittle him. To make him a second class citizen and this is the basis for the character in the book. He is befriended then hidden by an innocent. To show that people are the same (all pink in the middle, thank you Jimmy “Uncle Paul” Norton). So dearest Historian that thinks this is a good idea, you my friend are a moron and should look for another line of work.

“Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it.” Do you know who said this? Mark Twain. Makes you think huh?

 

January 6, 2011
Click to view gayecant's profile

yes they shuld do

January 6, 2011
Click to view hilfeheiko's profile

They should not change it. You should not rewrite the original score but teach those, who may not know, what the words mean and why they were used then, but are not apropriate to use today. Rather learn something from it then hide it.

You must be logged in to post a comment.



About the iReport Blog

The latest and greatest on CNN iReport, brought to you by Team iReport.


Categories Recent posts Monthly Subscribe