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Publisher To Delete “Racially Insensitive” Words From ‘Huckleberry Finn,’ ‘Tom Sawyer’

A publisher is coming out with new editions of Mark Twain’s two greatest novels that delete or modify all instances of “racially insensitive” words:

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic by most any measure—T.S. Eliot called it a masterpiece, and Ernest Hemingway pronounced it the source of “all modern American literature.” Yet, for decades, it has been disappearing from grade school curricula across the country, relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright, appearing again and again on lists of the nation’s most challenged books, and all for its repeated use of a single, singularly offensive word: “nigger.”

Twain himself defined a “classic” as “a book which people praise and don’t read.” Rather than see Twain’s most important work succumb to that fate, Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn, in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the “n” word (as well as the “in” word, “Injun”) by replacing it with the word “slave.”

“This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind,” said Gribben, speaking from his office at Auburn University at Montgomery, where he’s spent most of the past 20 years heading the English department. “Race matters in these books. It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”

The idea of a more politically correct Finn came to the 69-year-old English professor over years of teaching and outreach, during which he habitually replaced the word with “slave” when reading aloud. Gribben grew up without ever hearing the “n” word (“My mother said it’s only useful to identify [those who use it as] the wrong kind of people”) and became increasingly aware of its jarring effect as he moved South and started a family. “My daughter went to a magnet school and one of her best friends was an African-American girl. She loathed the book, could barely read it.”

Including the table of contents, the slur appears 219 times in Finn. What finally convinced Gribben to turn his back on grad school training and academic tradition, in which allegiance to the author’s intent is sacrosanct, was his involvement with the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read Alabama.

(…)

“After a number of talks, I was sought out by local teachers, and to a person they said we would love to teach this novel, and Huckleberry Finn, but we feel we can’t do it anymore. In the new classroom, it’s really not acceptable.” Gribben became determined to offer an alternative for grade school classrooms and “general readers” that would allow them to appreciate and enjoy all the book has to offer. “For a single word to form a barrier, it seems such an unnecessary state of affairs,” he said.

One writer at CNN compares the modifications to the changes that broadcast television networks make when the air movies:

If this puts the book into the hands of kids who would not otherwise be allowed to read it due to forces beyond their control (overprotective parents and the school boards they frighten), then maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to judge.

It’s unfortunate, but is it really any more catastrophic than a TBS-friendly re-edit of “The Godfather,” you down-and-dirty melon farmer?

The original product is changed for the benefit of those who, for one reason or another, are not mature enough to handle it, but as long as it doesn’t affect the original, is there a problem?

This analogy simply doesn’t work. Neither the expletives nor things like the graphic details of the “horses head” scene or the brief sex scene between Michael Corleone and his first wife Appolonia are essential elements of the story that Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola are trying to tell in The Godfather. These items can be removed or modified for airing on broadcast television without taking away from the central themes of the story. This is not the case with either Sawyer or Finn, both books are set in a time period when racial tensions were a central part of life and are based, to a large degree, on the racially prejudices that Twain himself encountered as a child growing up in Missouri. This is especially true of Huckleberry Finn where, despite the fact that “the n-word” appears 219 times, it’s fairly obvious that Twain is condemning racial prejudice and that one of the central themes of the book is the process by which Huck discovers that the things he’d been taught by society by blacks were wrong, and that his companion him was, in fact, an heroic figure.Twain’s use of a word that, even in his time, was meant to be insulting and demeaning, was deliberate and removing it because of “sensitivities” seems to me to detract significantly from the overall power of the novel.

Beyond this, editing these novels like this strikes me as being the literary equivalent of putting a shroud around the waist of Michealangelo’s David, or covering the breasts of a woman in a Rubens painting. These are great works of art, changing them like this is troublesome and outrageous on a fundamental level.

It’s somewhat ironic that this would happen at the same time that the first volume of Twain’s autobiography, finally released after 100 years, sits at No. 5 on The New York Times’ Bestseller List. I’m sure if Samuel Langhorne Clemens were around today, he’d have something to say about this.

Update: Steffani Cameron explains better than I did why this is such a travesty:

Huckleberry Finn’s linguistic offensiveness is exactly the way to further the almost non-existent dialogue on race in America. Instead of shutting it up and putting prettier words on the page so it’s less offensive, let’s wake the hell up.

HEY, it’s SLAVERY. It IS offensive. It SHOULD be offensive. It should make schoolkids’ skin CRAWL when they learn what REALLY happened. WAKE UP.

They should learn how horrible tarring-and-feathering was, that slaves would be killed by being made to drink boiling water or oil, that lynching was a common “behaviour tool”.

Slaves weren’t just treated badly, all right? Let’s get real here. Let’s be honest about how horrible it was.

Huck Finn is an historical novel for us now. It’s a window into a past that some would say we haven’t fully confronted. Whitewashing (an ironic term for fans of Tom Sawyer) the racism out of Twain’s novels is whitewashing the past, it’s sending the message that hey things really weren’t that bad, when in fact they were that bad, and worse.

Moderation Note: A few comments have already been caught in our spam filter because of their use of the word in question. I approved them because they were used in an appropriate context and will continue do to so for future comments, as long as the word is used appropriately and not as an insult..

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Joshua says:

    Political correctness will never die it seems. They tell us that we must whitewash our history and literature out of fear of offending some person or group regardless of what may have actually happened or was written. You know what they say about those who don’t learn from and remember the past.

    This idea is quite stupid and ignorant. Then again, it might help a few weak-minded people feel better about themselves.

    Ugh.

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  2. Ken says:

    To take the taste of Gribben’s stupidity out of my mouth, I had to re-read the part of Huckleberry Finn in which Huck — who has been raised to believe that slavery is God’s law, and doesn’t know any better — decides that he would rather go to Hell than turn Jim in to authorities as a runaway. In other words, he discovers a human value higher than the racism he has been taught:

    So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didn’t know what to do. At last I had an idea; and I says, I’ll go and write the letter- and then see if I can pray. Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as light as a feather, right straight off, and my troubles all gone. So I got a piece of paper and a pencil, all glad and excited, and set down and wrote:

    Miss Watson your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below Pikesville and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send. HUCK FINN

    I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn’t do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking- thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me, all the time; in the day, and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a floating along, talking, and singing, and laughing. But somehow I couldn’t seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I’d see him standing my watch on top of his’n, stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him agin in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me, and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had smallpox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the only one he’s got now; and then I happened to look around, and see that paper.

    It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:

    “All right, then, I’ll go to hell”- and tore it up.

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  3. Dave says:

    Your statue of David analogy doesn’t really work: covering him up ruins him for everyone. One publisher taking the word nigger out of a book in the public domain is stupid and a bit annoying but it doesn’t take the word out of the million+ copies already in print. It’s the equivalent of putting a “censored” bar over David’s penis on a postcard or print; It only hurts the people who are dumb enough to buy it.

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  4. john personna says:

    I found a book in my university library, on the Calif gold rush, written during. It was in the rare books room, signature required, perhaps in part because it was hard on the Chinese.

    It’s worse than a shroud or a fig leaf. It’s rewriting history. We need to know how bad racism was in order to understand the effort to combat it.

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  5. john personna says:

    (let little kids watch tv adaptions. when they are old enough to read the whole thing, say ‘yeah, that’s the way things were. we try to be better now.)

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  6. c.red says:

    Fairly classic case of dogmatic individual: applying a rule without understanding (or misunderstanding) the reason behind the rule.

    Most likely this will be pretty much ignored. I’m not certain this sort of thing is particularly new, haven’t several myths and fairy tales been sanitized over the years for younger audiences? As you get older, and if you are interested, you get access to the original versions and learn more of the original intent of the works.

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  7. mantis says:

    It was in the rare books room, signature required, perhaps in part because it was hard on the Chinese.

    Or just because it was rare. That is, after all, why they have rare book rooms.

    Anyway, I certainly wouldn’t buy an edited-after-the-fact copy of Twain, but I’m not so bothered by this. His work is public domain, as it should be, and thus people/publishers can do what they want with it. That’s ok. The original version will always be available, either for free on the web or in a huge variety of print editions, some of which can be dirt cheap (Dover, etc.).

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  8. michael reynolds says:

    It’s wrong.

    It’s wrong when they do it to Godfather, and wrong when they do it to a Michelangelo, and wrong to do it here. It’s the equivalent of re-sizing the Mona Lisa to cut out all that background — after all, the theme of the painting isn’t changed.

    It’s a bi-partisan crime. Between lefties freaking out over this and righties freaking over that it’s no wonder we can’t get kids to read. Both sides are stupid fucking vandals.

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  9. michael reynolds says:

    Can I get a spam rescue?

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  10. PD Shaw says:

    I agree w/ JP in that age might need to be taken into consideration.

    My grade-school daughter asked me to buy her a copy of Mary Poppins last year. I found it interesting that I could not find an uncensored copy. The original contained a chapter where the nanny and children visit the four corners of the earth and meet stereotypical people of those lands. The revised editions replace the people with animals. Since a non-censored version did not appear to exist, my choice was made for me without examining how inappropriate the characterizations were.

    I just thought it was odd that I didn’t have a choice.

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  11. [...] about a publisher’s plan to release versions of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer that don’t include the words “Nigger” and [...]

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  12. john personna says:

    Interesting, it seems Mary Poppins is under copyright, and the author himself did the remodel in 1981.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Poppins

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  13. john personna says:

    And may I add, Han shot first ;-)

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  14. ALP says:

    Well Doug, again I find myself agreeing with you. When I went to school in the 1950′s
    the term was “Negro” ( short for Negroid). We were called “White Boys”.
    Neither were considered derogatory terms back then. Huckleberry Finn was
    a very important book in our school. We had to analyze the content to determine
    the main points and morals of the story. we did not use the term nigger, except to referred to a black person of poor character. The same as whites being referred as “White Trash”.
    This “PC” crap really needs to end. If you are crazy, you are crazy, not “mentally challenged!
    I you are shorter in height, you are short. Not height challenged.

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  15. mantis says:

    The original contained a chapter where the nanny and children visit the four corners of the earth and meet stereotypical people of those lands. The revised editions replace the people with animals.

    Ah, the infamous Bad Tuesday chapter. The reason the original is so hard to find is the author herself wrote the replacement chapter in 1981. You’d have to find an edition published before that to get the original.

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  16. just me says:

    I think this is stupid.

    I absolutely think the offensive words in the book make the book more real-the reality is that the words and thinking were common in that era and I think it makes for a great discussion point.

    And honestly the words should bother us and should make us uncomfortable. Slavery and how society viewed it and those enslaved are difficult subject matters and I don’t think it should be cleaned up-it should shock us, make us squirm and make us think about the things our society does and approves of.

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  17. PD Shaw says:

    I forgot the Mary Poppins re-write was by the author; certainly not analogous to this discussion then.

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  18. delurking says:

    I note with some amusement that Mr. Mataconis does not use “the word in question” in this post. I note also that Ken, after a comment about Gribben’s stupidity, posts a passage that is central to the themes of the book that does contain “the word”. Now, reread that passage excising “the word” (or replacing it with “slave”). How much has changed?

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  19. Gustopher says:

    I find this far less disturbing than the persistent efforts to white-wash the Confederacy by claiming that the secession was about “States’ Rights” rather than slavery.

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  20. Boyd says:

    I see a lot of folks castigating Gribben for doing this, but I don’t see anyone responding to the point that this version is intended to be read by people who would never read the original version, by their own decision or that of others.

    So, it’s better that they never read Huck Finn than read it with “nigger” changed to “slave?” I find it hard to get behind that claim.

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  21. Boyd,

    I think the response would be that such people need to grow up and expand their minds by reading a great piece of literature the way it was intended to be read.

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  22. Cliff says:

    The use of the word “slave” totally wrecks the emotional impact of what is being described in these books. Twain must be spinning in his grave. He intended to be contraversal and force people to think, and the words build the imagery. If people are so stone cold stupid that they are afraid of words then I’d rather have a parental warning then to starve my children of what was originally written.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Boyd says:

    Sorry, Doug, but I think you’re avoiding reality. For example, there are plenty of kids who would benefit from reading Finn, but can’t because their parents won’t let them. So, is it better to stomp your feet and hold your breath and scream about literary purity and deny these kids the opportunity to read this book (which would be the case if you and the other purists here got your way)?

    So instead of answering my question, you substituted the question you wanted to answer. How about answering the one I’ve actually asked now?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. spiff says:

    This work is not just literature, but it is history, our history. This reminds me of the joke about communist Russia – “We all know what the future holds, it’s the past that keeps on changing.”

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  25. floyd says:

    This is just the kind of thing that has prompted me to collect original versions of many important books. At least my great grandchildren will have legitimate copys of a limited number of works which have not been adulterated by the “newspeak” workers.
    Imagine their version of “1984″. [LOL]

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  26. floyd says:

    “”The original product is changed for the benefit of those who, for one reason or another, are not mature enough to handle it,”"
    “”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"

    Like Gribben.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. John Burgess says:

    @Boyd: Yes, let them go without if they think they can subsist on food from which all nutrients are removed.

    The problem, as I see it, is not just that a piece of literature is being monkeyed around with, but that the entire concept behind the monkeying does a gross mis-service to history. Today’s sensibilities and sensitivities are not those of the past. By bowdlerizing texts, we distort history. This is happening in all the social sciences already and is, I am convinced, part of the problem with why younger (than me) people simply have no grasp of history (or much on reality).

    The book, as written, provides an excellent teaching moment for teachers, parents, and peers. If that would cause too much commotion, then the book should not be required reading, at least for that age level. Popular culture of the past is being homogenized into what’s acceptable today. Disney’s ‘Song of the South?’ Good luck finding it. Betty Boop cartoons? Only available through bootlegs. Heckle & Jeckle cartoons? You’re kidding, right? How about all the US cartoons made during WWII?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. sam says:

    I think Mailer said that Huck Finn was the greatest American novel, and every novel after it that aspired to greatness was in a sense a gloss on the story of that journey down the river. Twain did not choose words without very careful thought about the emotional impact the words would have. Maybe the publisher should have consulted the ghost of Lenny Bruce on the suppression of language:

    Are there any niggers here tonight? Could you turn on the house lights, please, and could the waiters and waitresses just stop serving, just for a second? And turn off this spot. Now what did he say? “Are there any niggers here tonight?” I know there’s one nigger, because I see him back there working. Let’s see, there’s two niggers. And between those two niggers sits a kyke. And there’s another kyke— that’s two kykes and three niggers. And there’s a spic. Right? Hmm? There’s another spic. Ooh, there’s a wop; there’s a polack; and, oh, a couple of greaseballs. And there’s three lace-curtain Irish micks. And there’s one, hip, thick, hunky, funky, boogie. Boogie boogie. Mm-hmm. I got three kykes here, do I hear five kykes? I got five kykes, do I hear six spics, I got six spics, do I hear seven niggers? I got seven niggers. Sold American. I pass with seven niggers, six spics, five micks, four kykes, three guineas, and one wop. Well, I was just trying to make a point, and that is that it’s the suppression of the word that gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness. Dig: if President Kennedy would just go on television, and say, “I would like to introduce you to all the niggers in my cabinet,” and if he’d just say “nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger” to every nigger he saw, “boogie boogie boogie boogie boogie,” “nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger” ’til nigger didn’t mean anything anymore, then you could never make some six-year-old black kid cry because somebody called him a nigger at school.

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  29. sam says:

    Anybody see my comment? If not, would Doug spring it from the moderation queue?

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  30. Terrye says:

    This seems so wrong to me. These are Twain’s books. what right do these people have to change his words?

    As for delicate sensibilities of the young…come on…anyone who has ever actually listened to rap music knows that kids today have heard these words and a lot more.

    The first time I read a Twain book I was only about 10 years old. The man is an American treasure.

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  31. Hi Doug

    Thanks for writing this and linking to Steffanie’s post on Books on the Radio.

    One of your commenters notes that Gribben’s edition is intended to be read by people who wouldn’t otherwise crack the spine on this book.

    Ok, whatever – I’m not sure how a publisher measures something like that.

    Let me recommend one way to radically increase the readership of this book among people who wouldn’t otherwise read it: get Kanye West to write an introduction on contemporary usage of the word nigger in American popular culture.

    Publish that and let the public make up their own minds.

    Thanks for a great blog!

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  32. john personna says:

    Terrye, I agree with you!!!

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  33. [...] Doug Mataconis, …Sawyer or Finn, both books are set in a time period when racial tensions were a central [...]

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  34. rodney dill says:

    Sort of like colorization of films to make them more appealing now, but possibly changing the artistic intent. Only this is just the opposite (decolorization*). If just a publisher wants to do this on their own, let them. See if the work stands on its merits with a disclaimer as to the alterations.

    (*No offense intended for the double entendre)

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  35. rodney dill says:

    Additional note: They already dub the N word out of Blazing Saddles in at least some movie channel showings. A movie that is anti-racist in nature, or at least mocks racism. I don’t disagree with that move, even though the use of the N-word in the movie didn’t offend me in that context.

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  36. anjin-san says:

    Idiocy.

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  37. Nightrider says:

    Meh. I’m no fan of PC, but there are kids around age 9 who can read the book and I wouldn’t really want my own 8 year old reading that word 219 times because then it wouldn’t be all that surprising if he used it at school. Not that saying a word is the worst thing an 8 year old could do but not really what I need. So if someone wants to bleep the word out for that age group, whatever, I’m a lot more worried about public debt. On the other hand, the 13-14 year olds who read the book then probably go home and play video games and watch movies where people behead prostitutes, so the change for that age seems silly. And I wonder if kids born after 1990 even think of the word more as a hurtful insult or a historical oddity.

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  38. john personna says:

    Don’t worry Nightrider, South Park has taught the kids “ginger” as an alternate.

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  39. george says:

    “Meh. I’m no fan of PC, but there are kids around age 9 who can read the book and I wouldn’t really want my own 8 year old reading that word 219 times because then it wouldn’t be all that surprising if he used it at school. ”

    He’ll hear it more often than that in background music.

    Better to keep it authentic – and its a way to bring up the whole history of blacks in America with him. Pretending it didn’t happen helps no one.

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  40. John425 says:

    Oh, yeah, remove the “N” word because it’s “hurtful” and ignore the Constitution and freedom of speech because it’s like, old stuff… y’know.

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  41. Don L says:

    I hope the publisher has the courage to notate the book as edited in accordance with modern political correctness.

    I stand a bit confused that blacks would demand these vestages of a dark time in America be struck from discourse while spending so much of their time seeking to benefit from being victims of that same period time.

    Maybe if we strike slavery references from all literature, some white bigot seeking power in the future can do like that holocaust denier in Iran, and pretend slavery never happened?

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  42. mantis says:

    I stand a bit confused that blacks would demand these vestages of a dark time in America be struck from discourse while spending so much of their time seeking to benefit from being victims of that same period time.

    “Blacks” are not demanding anything of the sort. You stand confused about something that isn’t happening, and it’s quite obvious you have some issues with black people.

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  43. Don L says:

    “… it’s quite obvious you have some issues with black people.”

    Gosh, mantis, thanks for the instant psychoanalysis. I feel better already.

    I must also be confused all those times I heard those popular black leaders accuse “whitey” of using the “n” word – such as at “Tea Party rallies and such. Where have you been hiding if you don’t realize the “n” word as well at”colored folks” and “Negro” (or Nigros in the south)and also “People of Color” has been eliminated from free speech.

    Yes it is denigrating, but so is voluntary enslavement and permanent victimhood of the soul, to the “only big government can save us” liberal mindset that has destroyed the black community. I suggest you look up Shelby Steele, Tom Sowell, or Walter Williams as to those issue that those three black men also have.

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  44. michael reynolds says:

    Don L:

    Here’s your homework assignment: find a single black “leader” in the last 20 years who used the word “whitey.”

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  45. mantis says:

    I must also be confused all those times I heard those popular black leaders accuse “whitey” of using the “n” word – such as at “Tea Party rallies and such.

    Probably.

    Where have you been hiding if you don’t realize the “n” word as well at”colored folks” and “Negro” (or Nigros in the south)and also “People of Color” has been eliminated from free speech.

    Really? How did you just use them then? Shouldn’t the cops be breaking down your door now that those words have been outlawed?

    Yes it is denigrating, but so is voluntary enslavement and permanent victimhood of the soul, to the “only big government can save us” liberal mindset that has destroyed the black community.

    Ah, yet another “the blacks are too stupid to think for themselves and love being slaves” conservatives. You idiots are a dime a dozen.

    Anyway, I notice you don’t even bother to back up your claim that “blacks” have demanded that words be removed from Huck Finn. You know it’s BS, so you just go on a (very familiar) rant. Don’t you have a cross to burn or something?

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  46. mantis says:

    find a single black “leader” in the last 20 years who used the word “whitey.”

    The Michelle Obama “Whitey Tape” will be released any day now!

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  47. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Reynold, Mantis and Anjin all on the same comment page! Worthless. Reynolds, lose the picture, please. I almost lost my lunch.

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  48. Michelle says:

    It’s not like they are burning the original books and saying only this new book can be read. I’m sorry but I don’t want my young children learning such a hateful word and try to not let them even hear it in music. If they can learn about all the bad stuff that happened back then w/o the use of that one singular offensive word then what is the problem? I think people are being too offended over someone just trying to bring a great story to more people.

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  49. Don L says:

    “…find a single black “leader” in the last 20 years who used the word “whitey.”

    It took about ten seconds to find the liberal’s professor sounding the clario call….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGv8PQr8Uo4

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  50. mantis says:

    It took about ten seconds to find the liberal’s professor sounding the clario call….

    A former adjunct instructor (not professor) from NC State that no one has ever heard of is a “black leader?” Whom does he lead, exactly?

    FAIL.

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  51. Don L says:

    You sound like a desperate lawyer that has lost his argument. Give it up for gosh sakes.

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  52. mantis says:

    Aww, Don has given up and now wants me to do so. What a surprise.

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  53. don says:

    if we forget or censor history we will repeat it. When they destroy all records of things they will be repeated. I was 16 when i saw seperate waiting rooms in a railroad station and i didn’t like it but now with the coloreds shooting us and themselves and destroying our cities i’m thinking we probably might want to think about going back there.

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  54. sam says:

    @John425

    “Oh, yeah, remove the “N” word because it’s “hurtful” and ignore the Constitution and freedom of speech because it’s like, old stuff…”

    It’s not a First Amendment issue.

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  55. anjin-san says:

    Don sounds like someone who still has issues because he got his ass kicked by a black kid in jr. high school…

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  56. michael reynolds says:

    Don L:

    Pathetic effort.

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  57. michael reynolds says:

    Don L and don. Don and dumber.

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  58. Jessi says:

    I don’t agree with this republication. Granted, I don’t like the word myself, and I find it offensive when I hear it, or see it scribbled somewhere, but I have read this book and it is about the context of the book as a whole that makes a difference. What an author writes should be left as is, whether we like it or not. As for intent to get the book into the hands of those who would not otherwise read it, either by choice, by strict parents, or strict schools, I’m not buying it. My mother forbid us to watch Bambi. I knew why, after asking her when I was a little bit older, but in my early adulthood, I watched it. I will never watch it again, and because of my personal views, I won’t allow my children to watch it unless they are old enough to understand why I didn’t want them to see it. Changing the word doesn’t make it any better. In fact, I think changing the word to “slave” will miseducate people because slaves were not kept of one race. IF it must be republished without, how would “n——-” not be acceptable?

    Political correctness has gone too far. How will our children learn what is “policitally correct” if they are always shielded from what is wrong? I would rather teach the lesson from this book than have to explain it from example of the ignorant souls who still use it. It has been my observation that it is socially acceptable for people to use the word as long as they are of that race. And it’s not just this word, as is applied to this race, it is other offensive names that are becoming offensive only if used by someone who isn’t a member of that race.

    If people aren’t reading it because the word is in there now, how many people will decide to crack the spine if the word is omitted and/or changed? It won’t change the intent of the story; it will only lessen the intended impact on the reader. And that, to me, is a great injustice.

    Take the word out of the mouths of everyone, not out of a literary work of art.

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  59. This work is not just literature, but it is history, our history. This reminds me of the joke about communist Russia – “We all know what the future holds, it’s the past that keeps on changing.”

    Well you said.
    Well done.

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