Censoring of classic novel angers readers

Emily Brown, Copy Editor
February 9, 2011
Filed under Opinion

Censorship.
One word can get everyone in a tizzy of self-righteous anger.
But a recent example of this 10-letter word caught my attention and my ire.
While editing the newest edition of Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” Alan Gribben of Auburn University decided to replace 200 uses of the N-word with the word slave. The derogatory term “Injun” is being changed to Indian.
His excuse?
He wants to stop “preemptive censorship” since Huckleberry Finn is the fourth most banned book in U.S. schools.
Though he might have good intentions, his methods merely aggravate the issue.
Creating more censorship is not going to solve the problem of censorship, Mr. Gribben.
Instead of helping teenagers understand the historical implications of these words, he wants to rewrite history and pretend these words never existed.
Let’s just erase all the prejudice and hatred that has occurred in this country.
That will certainly help diminish discriminatory thoughts in our minds. If you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist, right?
Wrong.
Let’s ruin an amazing literary classic and smash freedom of speech in one single stomp.
Of course, it is all for the sake of political correctness.
No thanks.
The plot of the story is about Huck Finn dealing with his perceived notions about African Americans and his conflicting feelings about Jim.
Huck’s language and slang represent that time period in history.
If we change these words, will we ever understand the significance of the time period?
How we will understand the harsh reality for African Americans during this time?
We won’t.
In order to understand the present, we need to understand our past first.
So Mr. Gribben, take your preemptive measures to a country that would appreciate them.
Because we sure don’t.

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