Huckleberry and The End of the World

I was surfing the Internet when I came across an article about a guy named Harold Camping who claims the world is coming to an end. According to good ‘ol Harry, May 21, 2011 will be Judgment Day and the rapture (The taking up into heaven of God’s elect people) will occur. Then the whole place goes to shit on October 21.

Luckily for me the rapture will occur a few days after my birthday. It would suck if my potential gift givers were suddenly swept up into heaven. Then again, some of my friends won’t be among the elect. Hell, I’ll probably have my feet on terra firma too. On the bright side, if the world is destroyed by fire in October, I won’t have to buy any Christmas presents. That’ll save me a few bucks. And when Visa sends me my monthly bill (Which they will do Apocalypse or not.) I won’t be around to pay it. Sweet.

Of course the news has been squawking about the portents of impending doom that seem to be happening all around us. Multitudes of birds and fish have died all over the world in the past few weeks. Five thousand birds fell from the sky in Arkansas. Personally I think they died because they went, “Oh shit! We’re in Arkansas!” But scientists think these die offs might be caused by magnetic north moving towards Russia and screwing up these creatures’ navigation systems. Just imagine all the GPS satellites going offline and you’ll get a sense of what’s happening. Livery drivers in New York can’t get to JFK without them. But the movement of magnetic north is a natural process that has occurred many times. And massive animal die offs? Nothing new. But, as I mentioned in an earlier post, wackjobs all over the world will use these events to promote some kind of self-serving eschatological agenda.

Human beings are egocentric by nature so it’s no surprise that some people think that the world has to end in their lifetimes. It gives them a misguided sense of drama and purpose but hey, everybody likes a good ending. But the world’s not going to end until the sun runs out of hydrogen and expands to gobble us up. Of course another planet might hit us or a gamma ray burst fry our ass, but the odds of that happening are infinitesimal. Put quite simply, doomsayers are lazy bastards. If you know the world’s going to end then you don’t have to plan ahead! Help the poor and downtrodden? Try and make the world a better place? Screw ‘em. They’re gonna die anyway. But not me! I know better. I’m going to be singing Leaving on a Jet Plane when Jesus levitates me into the clouds!

But another article caught my eye as well. It seems some moronic publishers are replacing the 200 uses of the word “nigger” in Samuel Clemens’s classic novel Huckleberry Finn and replacing it with the word “slave.” Now with the exception of idiots, crackers, Klansmen and a few rappers, most of us don’t like the “N-Word.” But Clemens used the word over and over again not because he was a racist, but because he wanted to show his readers how stupid racism was. But in our politically correct world a select few have decided it would be too dangerous to let children read Clemens’ book as it was originally written and have an honest discussion about race and it’s place in American History. I guess they think our students are not up to the challenge -that they’re too fragile and stupid to figure out what Clemens was really saying.

Like Harry and all those other doomsayers, these revisionists are egocentric lazy bastards. God forbid they have to teach children about the tough stuff. And just like crazed religious nuts, they are a minority who feel that the great masses are somehow unworthy. They like to live in their little fantasy worlds, smug in the knowledge that they somehow know better. I know how the world will end. I know I’m righteous and will be saved. I know better than Samuel Clemens. This all sound familiar? Didn’t some absolutists with narrow, ego-stroking and self-righteous triumphalist views attack us on September 11th? They thought they knew better than the rest of us too.

So yes, I’m saying Harry and these literary revisionists are like terrorists. Why? Because they all use fear as their modus operandi. Religious wackjobs try scaring you into thinking the world’s ending and these mind numbingly stupid publishers are telling us to be terrified of words because they might screw up our kids. And of course, they know what’s best for us. At one end of the spectrum these people are just annoying. But at the other end they turn into Pol Pots.

But attempts to censor Samuel Clemens have failed before and crazy Harry also thought the world was going to end in 1994. Oops. Regardless of their lunacy, I take great comfort in the fact that the world will keep chugging along and reading Huckleberry Finn centuries after these dipshits have turned into compost.

I guess I’m still going to have to pay that Visa bill after all.


Comments

Huckleberry and The End of the World — 63 Comments

  1. You know, as much as I hate to use it as a reference, it was described accurately in Harry Potter: Refusing to acknowledge a name (or word) gives it power.
    Recognizing this is vital to the understanding of American history. But, hey, that’s cool; let’s just go about denying that slavery and racism ever happened just like Holocaust deniers in Germany. Oh wait, it’s illegal there.

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  3. (Redacted by admin for because I go slammed for it nine times!)

    And the censors are mad! And stupid! When I worked at an (Episcopal K-8) school, if a parent wanted to have a book removed from the library, s/he had to be able to cite page/s and specific reason/s said book was unsuitable. Since such parents didn’t read …

  4. Agreed! I read that book in elementary school and the mere shock factor of the word helped me understand what racism meant and how Samuel Clemens was battling it. Pretending things never existed does not make them disappear. I recently read an article about “historical amnesia”, which is mainly how civilization tends to forget the human condition from the past, in order to ameliorate their view of nature and life. Well, this is one modern example of it. Cheers to you, Mr. Dublanica, for standing up and publishing the opinion most rational people agree with.

  5. Isn’t the word “injun” derogatory as well? Why don’t they change that to “Native American” too? Oh wait. There’s no political or even, let’s face it, personal gain by changing that as well. Idiots. This new generation is too stupid and soft to understand because of all the censoring and having to be PC all the time.

  6. I’m thinking that, if the Left Behinders are right, at least we’ll have six months of peace and quiet between May 21st and October 21st. The idea of living on a planet — even for six months — without their pompous crap — is so appealing, the Apocalypse is damn-near worth it.

    ~A~

  7. Enjoyed your thoughts on doomsayers. I think the world is coming to an end, in time with the sun’s demise, but we should have time to figure out how to get off this rock by then!

    Just a nitpick….

    Clemens is made plural like so:
    Clemens’

    Whereas a name like Stoss would be like so:
    Stoss’s

    As far as I understand, if it’s a two syllable S-ending name, it just gets the apostrophe…if it’s only one then it gets “‘s.”

    People ask me this sometimes anyway, so I figure it’s worth posting for others to see as well.

  8. Speaking of vintage books, and language that is no longer “correct”, I have a collection of books featuring a young southern girl at the turn of the 20th century (1800s-1900s); guess they are not well known enough to be revised :)

    Steve – good to see you back!

    ElectricLion – if you don’t mind (and even if you do – grin) I will share the quote you posted with some friends; it says it all.

  9. Stamping Out Harold Camping

    Is Second Coming date-setter Harold Camping worthy of death? He already has a zero batting average after his September 1994 prediction fizzle and, according to the Bible, is a false prophet.
    Nevertheless that California shaman, who should be ashamed, claims he’s found out that Christ’s return will be on May 21, 2011 even though Matt. 24:36 says that no one knows the “day” or “hour” of it!
    A Google article (“Obama Fulfilling the Bible”) points out that “Deut. 18:20-22 in the Old Testament requires the death penalty for false prophets.”
    The same article reveals that “Christians are commanded to ask God to send severe judgment on persons who commit and support the worst forms of evil (see I Cor. 5 and note ‘taken away’).”
    Theologically radioactive Harold Camping and his ga-ga groupies (with their billboards featuring “May 21, 2011″) should worry about being “stamped out” if many persons decide to follow the I Cor. 5 command.
    The above article concludes: “False prophets in the OT were stoned to death. Today they are just stoned!”

  10. Did you know in the ’50′s they made a TV Movie of Huck Finn. They actually eliminated the charecter of Jim from the entire piece!

  11. Is an escaped slave a slave or a free man? Calling Jim a slave after he has escaped seems wrong.

    My anniversary is May 21st. Better have the special anniversary sex early.

  12. There’s a pretty good justification essay from the publisher of the revised edition.

    The justification is that Huck Finn is getting difficult to assign in a classroom simply because of the n-word.

    Not because the students can’t handle it, but because helicopter parents get riled up and school boards ban it for containing a “bad word”.

    So what’s better, an edited version (that includes a discussion of why it was edited and what has been removed), or for the book to be removed from schools completely and to fade into obscurity?

    The unedited version will still be available for smart students to pursue on their own; this is just one more edition for a specific audience.

  13. i thought this tweet from someone called @JohnFugelsang sums it up well:
    “The new ‘Huckleberry Finn’ – where Jim is shackled, beaten & kept as human livestock, but nobody calls him any bad words.”

  14. Know this is a troll, and I’m having a moment where it’s hard to discern cyncism from facetious from sarcasm.

    If racism doesn’t exist, we don’t have to pay reparations.

  15. End of the world means one thing to me: vacation. So why worry? There won’t be anything to worry over. Then again, no worries is not good rant fodder, now is it?

  16. People who want to change Samuel Clemens’s work (I disagree with the apostrophe discussion that appears earlier, adhering to Strunk and White) should write their own novels and leave his word choices alone.

  17. I agree with you about Huck Finn Steve but disagree about Harry. Why?
    Harry’s actions do not coerce anyone else, nor do they infringe on any moral rights or tamper with works of art.
    You can claim that he is using fear as a tool – and perhaps he is – but he is entitled to proclaim his position. Loudly even. And exercise his ‘religion’. Isn’t that fundamental to your wacky American way of life – so much so it comprised the 1st amendement to your constitution? How is exercising that right terroristic (if there is such a word)?

  18. @waiterrantfan,

    Owning a gun is a protected right. Waving it in my face is now. See the difference?

    Speech is a protected right. Screaming “Fire” in a crowded theater is not.

    Using speech to threaten people is not protected. Using fear to coerce people is the definition of terrorism.

    Now, that wasn’t too hard, was it?

  19. AMEN! I hate it when they start touching the books. First, we have to take the wine out of Red Riding Hood’s basket, now we have to take the N-word out of Huck Finn. It’s disgusting.

  20. Thanks for a great article. And especially for your link to Peter, Paul & Mary. Now I now what I’m going to do with my $10 itunes card I got for the holidays!

  21. dude, i like yer book and all, but i think you have this backwards.

    the revision – by a twain scholar, not just some nimrod – is due to the book being completely dropped by school districts for the language. so with the choice being between “mostly twain” and “no twain” he thinks it’s better to go for the former.

    now, it’s not the road i would travel, but that’s because huck finn has aged kinda poorly. (seriously, when did you last read it? go back and check out the ending again and see how it sits with you)

  22. Nice entry, Steve.

    I was about to comment that Huckleberry Finn was written by Mark Twain, not Samuel Clemens (feeling all high and mighty, mind you) but when I went to look it up just to be sure I realized it’s the same person. Heh. Just goes to show you what being high and mighty gets you (and clearly shows how much I paid attention in high school English)…

  23. Looks like at least some of the bird deaths (the ones that aren’t linked to cold snaps or stress) may have had to do with pesticides. Some word has leaked about a suppressed FDA report about Neonicotinoids, which have Nasty effects on a number of species. Turns out they’re Really profitable to sell though (over $250 million for Bayer in 2009), so what the hell, why not let them sell it to whomever they want?

  24. The first thing I thought of when I heard about the new, censored version of Huckleberry Finn was the conspicuous absence of the word “nigger” in Gran Torino starring Clint Eastwood. The movie would have been more realistic and packed a stronger punch if Eastwood’s character used “nigger” instead of “spook.” I’m not drinking the PC Kool-Aid.

    Watering down Huckleberry Finn is wrong.

  25. I confess, the first thing I did after reading the article about the ‘new’ Huckleberry Finn was go to our bookshelf and make sure we have an ‘old’ one. I would hate for my daughter, when she’s old enough, to have to read a censored version and possibly miss a history lesson that should be taught.

  26. I also think that if The Rapture removes all of the Fundamentalists, then the rest of us can have some peace and prosperity for a change. I hope that all the Fundamentalists go, not just the Christians….

  27. I agree with most everything written about the Bowdlerized version of Huckleberry Finn, but there is one thing that bothers me: almost everything written on this subject blames “political correctness.” The idea of political correctness was a right-wing invention to justify hate speech, yet I’ve seen postings from progressives that use the term as if it means something. It’s one of those far-right straw men, like “the war on Christmas.” To blame this edited Huck Finn on political correctness is to give the left too much credit: Nobody is insisting that this version of the novel is the only one that can be used. That’s simply factually incorrect. (Nerd note: “Political correctness” is grammatically incorrect; it should, if used at all, be “politically correct. If my answer in class was right, my teachers always said: “Correct!” They never congratulated me by saying: “Correctness!”) (Is correctness even a word?)

  28. Left out a line: “Political correctness” is another of those things from the right that really cheeses off the grammarian in me, like Rush Limbaugh alway calling it “the Democrat Party.”

  29. This shouldn’t even be a debate.
    A few things:

    1 – Censorship is bad.
    2 – I know, technically this Huck Finn thing isn’t censorship, it’s an ‘alternate version’ for students with parents who freak out over words. This is just as bad as censorship. The word is changed, but not the context. So Jim is still talked down to, treated like a criminal for being black, etc. Why does none of this offend the parents to the point of revision?
    3 – There really isn’t a good reason for a revised version. If parents/students are so bothered by the word, they can choose not to read it. If it’s too much for parents to have this discussion with their children about slavery and racism, then watering the language of the book down and leaving the kids on their own with it is not going to do nearly as good a job at educating them on their own nations history.

    It reminds me of the dumb redneck and his equally dumb daughter who tried to have Fahrenheit 451 banned from her school. Among his reasons for banning it, he included his disapproval of “taking God’s name in vain”, and how they “talk about our firemen”(and a whole laundry list of other things).

    If there are words or ideas in FICTIONAL stories which bother or upset ones’ sensibilities, then one can choose not to read such stories. This particular group of people can wallow in their narrow world view, while the rest of us choose to explore our past, present and future by asking the tough questions and facing our demons.

    Rest assured, these groups are dwindling. Their vehemence, and the volume at which they yell and demand the world to conform to their ignorant and narrow ways, is not at all a sign of their strength or size, but a death throe.

  30. The phrase “politically correct” can modify something, such as a “politically correct” statement. One might alternatively say “politically appropriate” – the word “correct” fills the same role in the sentence as the word “appropriate” would. Just as there is a noun form of “appropriate” (“appropriateness”), there is a noun form of “correct” (“correctness”). When a teacher calls out “correct” in response to an answer provided by a student, he or she is indicating that the answer (and the student) is correct, that is, using the word as a modifier, an adjective (I believe).

    One can also say that a person or thing is “politically correct” just as the teacher can say that an answer or student is correct – the term is still modifying a state or condition. Does someone understand this differently . . . ?

  31. Just out of cuirosity?, is there a specific reason why nobody is referring to him as Mark Twain? I know it was just a pen name, but we still talk about Elton John rather than Reg Dwight.

  32. “Political correctness” may be marginally grammatically correct, but it is awkward. It is the result of some half-wit on one of the right wing stations attempting to the fly to come up with a noun version of the adjectival phrase “politically correct,” which is, I think, borrowed from Stalinist-era Soviet speech.

  33. BTW – just finished reading Samuel Clemens autobiography. All of the characters in his books were representations of real life people and the blacks were some of the most endearing relationships from his childhood. To refer to blacks as anything other niggers wouldn’t really be part of the cultural equation in the mid 1800′s. Samuel Clemens had a social conscientious and his social juxtaposition should be studied not amended.

  34. Yes, I had forgotten the Stalinist-era association. Thanks. I always like to be reminded of the historical context of phrases that become popular after a period of disuse.

  35. I agree with you in being against censorship – and as for the conservatives, my conservative small-town junior high school had no problem assigning Huckleberry Finn as required reading for many 7th graders in the early 1990s.

    My real question about their choice of censorship is this:

    In the novel, “nigger” is used where the inoffensive term today would be “African-American”.

    Is substituting the word “slave” for “African-American” really any less offensive than leaving the n-word in place? Does it really offer a better educational experience to make the word “slave” synonymous with “African-American”, as if there were never any free black citizens in the US before the Civil War?

    (And no, I’m not trying to discount the existence or heinousness of slavery, either. Absolutely not. But I would think that we want young adults to associate “black” unequivocally with “slave” even less today than when Clemens wrote the novel.)

  36. The editing of Huckleberry Finn is quite upsetting, for numerous reasons. Is it akin to book burning? No, but it comes pretty close. I understand the argument that it’s better to edit the book than to just ban it completely. I think that’s completely missing the point though. If someone wants to do something that is wrong for misguided reasons, do we make concessions to appease them? No! We fight for what is right. That is exactly what I will do.

    Yes, it’s probably meaningless in the “grand scheme of things” but if my kids are assigned to read the “edited” version of Huck Finn, they will not. I will make sure they have the original version to read and if that is not acceptable, they will not do the assignment. If there is anything negative that comes of it for my kids, I will go immediately to the school board. If that doesn’t work, I will go to the local media and talk about it. It worked for their forced assignment on how great Christopher Columbus was. After the school and then the school board didn’t agree that someone who accidentally stumbled upon a land that ALREADY had peoples living there and subsequenlty cut the hands off of children who refused to give up gold to him, shouldn’t be celebrated as a hero and “discoverer of America”; I went to the media. Apparently, after listening to facts rather than rhetoric, people agreed with me and the school and school board apologized. Maybe more people need to do things like this in this situation. Isn’t that what this country was founded on in the 1700′s? I think people forget about that these days. Complacency isn’t American damnit!!!

  37. I am sort of split on this, because I know why this is being created, and not just because the n-word (which, by the way, only two people, including the writer of this article, has typed down) is very uncomfortable to talk about or say, which is somewhat something; it also allows for the book to be talked about at all.

    After all, if a student came home, and told their parents that their teacher said the n-word – no matter WHAT the reason – they would be fired, and that would be the end of that. Anyone who would defend the teacher for saying the n-word due to the book would also lose their position, ESPECIALLY if it’s done democratically. After all, what better way to blast another candidate than to say that they supported a teacher who said the N-word? So, at least now, teachers can talk about the book, and not have to be worried about dismissal.

    So yeah, a lot of the reasons for changing the n-word into slave is because of politics. Sad, huh?

  38. Mark Twain. MARK TWAIN. Yes, Samuel Clemens is his real name, but everyone fucking knows him as Mark Twain, his pen name. I find it really annoying (and pretentious) that you refer to him only as “Samuel Clemens” in this post.

  39. Jesus will not be returning this may. He couldn’t get hotel reservations that close to Memorial Day. The Rapture won’t happen either. Fuel costs, you know!

    Seriously, I’m so glad you’ve pointed out that The Emperor is guilty of indecent exposure!

  40. OK waiter, love ya and have been having a blast reading your posts for a long time, I’m a waitress in Berks County Pa. I can so totally relate to you with my late night martini in hand. I kind of totally glossed over the Huckleberry End of the World thing because it freaked me out. Not my thing at all. I love reading about New York and the old place and the needy thirty somethings, etc. Anyhoo, regarding the End of the World thing…I took a nice Sunday drive from Berks County, yesterday, down to Collegeville to my new favorite supermarket, WEGMAN’S! I adore Wegman’s and I shop and get all kinds of good stuff. PLUS have a drink and a snack at the Pub. Anyway, there were two people there with big hoodies with big enourmous letters quoting the “end of the world” just like you said on 5/21/2011. What the fuck is up with that? Just looking at them and their smug expressions made me want to kick thier asses.

  41. i’m glad they will ban that word, pple always go off on a tangent saying “book burning next?” that’s a long way from banning a single word from a single book. my teacher made my class read that book aloud, and everyone squirmed uncomfortably. twain was trying to tell it how it was back then, and i respect that. but what i don’t get is why this book that has so many racial references is a classic?!?! wtf

  42. I hate the “N’ word. It come with a baggage of hate and violence that Mark Twain recognized a hundred years ago. But Twain’s gift was to present the American language as it was. Many believe he was very sympathetic to the plight of slaves and was more probably repulsed by the institution than his peers.

    “Huck Finn’s” beauty is capturing the language of the time. It so disheartens me that we would steal that from him.

  43. Actual “Crackers” are decedents of the early Scotch-Irish settlers of South Georgia and North Florida so named because they used the crack of a bullwhip over the heads of cattle to drive them in annual winter drives to the grasslands of Central Florida. Most of them lived in and around the Okefenokee Swamp. Present day Crackers are no more likely to use the word “nigger” than normal people.

    Cracker is also used as a derogatory term for white people used by blacks. As not all White people use the term “nigger” as a part of normal discourse. Maybe you do, but not me.

    I’m a cracker on my mom’s side. The term is used by us as a point of pride. We celebrate our bygone culture during “Cracker Days” held near Lake City, FL.

  44. lets all just remember the “fundamentalists” that have predicted the end of the world, hell the jehovahs witnesses have done it 5 times in my lifetime (and I’m only 23). 1ach time increasing the number of people getting into heaven. While your at it please checkout The Book of Mormon The Musical. As if knocking on my front door at 9am wasn’t bad enough, now they have a fucking musical?! Great. We will never hear the end of it now. Oh well, I’m just going to kick back and with my beer and wait to see what happens. And if the rapture does come and take away Christians at least it will take away 85% of the souths crappiest tippers. Because bible tracts are NOT tips!

  45. Moi,

    I can see how reading Huck Finn out loud could be very uncomfortable. And I think that the book could be difficult for students if not taught in a sensitive and thoughtful way. But as for your question about why a book with so many racial references is considered a classic, I would say that race has been an important issue in this country since its inception. The Revolutionary War was partially about wanting to expand into land that the British acknowledged as belonging to the Native American tribes who lived there. The nation was built on the backs on slave labor and cheap immigrant labor. A huge sector of our economy was based on the belief that some human beings were inferior and could be treated like property. This is one of the sad ugly truths of our history. I think Huck Finn is a classic precisely because it juxtaposed the humanity of Jim with the racism of the times and created a very unflattering self portrait of the American south at the time. It did what all really great books do — told a great story, and in the process, told the truth.

    I think it’s an important book to study because pretending that the past did not happen will not erase it’s present consequences.

    I think that in addition to reading Huck Finn, it is also important to read the stories of black heroes like Frederick Douglass, who wrote an autobiography of his life, recounting his journey from slavery to freedom.

    Slavery and racism are ugly, but there are many heroes, both black and white, who did wonderful brave things to fight it, and whose stories can inspire us today. We shortchange if we miss out of their stories because we are too timid to wade into the ugliness of their contexts.

  46. Have to say I’m one of the end-of-the-world doomsayers. Although I don’t really believe everyone is going to die in a global catastrophe, I do believe we (as a species) have some seriously troubled times in our future. Yes pole shifts and species die-offs and climate change have all happened before, and they will happen again.

    This does not make it any less serious.

    To me, the part that is worrisome is no ‘magic’ date of reckoning, (5/21/2011 or 12/21/2012 or whatever), or pole shifts or climate change or extinctions – what makes me worry is all of it put together. Each of these problems have the capacity to permanently alter the way our society functions. All of these problems combined(economy, ecology, climate, pollution, politics, water/food, etc.) happening at nearly the same time might be too much.

    When it comes down to it, our society is not sustainable. Humans take more than can be replaced. We literally can’t live this way till the sun explodes (*actually it’ll implode). Our society must change or we will kill ourselves before too long.

    You can’t logically deny that if we ruin the source of our resources, we will soon have no more resources.

    The real question is when. I don’t really believe it’ll happen in my lifetime. Nobody really knows how much abuse the planet can take. Nevertheless, all humans should realize this is a real, present and serious problem.

    Nobody believed Rome could collapse did they? And it did, didn’t it? End of the world: no. End of that society and their way of life: yes.

    I also deny being lazy by being a doomsayer. If anything, I have to worry about the future more. Although I don’t think it’ll happen in my lifetime, it very well may. So now I must plan for two futures. In one, everything is business as usual. I go to college, get a job, buy a house, move on. In another, the way of life I am used to is no longer viable. No grocery stores, no automobiles, no life-as-I-know-it. I can survive only with what I know and what I already have. So I must plan and prepare for that contingency. What if it all falls while I’m in college? What if it doesn’t collapse until I’m 50? Where to get food? Water? Shelter?

    Nobody believed Rome could collapse did they? And it did, didn’t it? End of the world: no. End of that society and their way of life: yes.

    Every generation of humans that have ever lived has had their doomsayers. Usually they are wrong. Every once in awhile they are right.

  47. Sorry to go entirely off topic, but if you don’t mind me asking, is this still Steve doing the posting?

    Just curious, the writing style seems to be a bit different over the last few months, about when posts started coming from ‘guru’ rather than ‘Waiter’. It’s possible I’m just reading too much into it.

  48. So this is way after the fact but I still want to throw my two cents in re whether or not to use the n-word in school versions of Huck Finn.
    I think one thing most Americans agree upon at this point is that the use of racial epithets hurts people. They are bad words because they cause unnecessary pain to the people they are directed toward.
    I also love Huck Finn- I’ve reread it as an adult and I think it holds up well over time, both as a fun and funny adventure story, and as a scathing indictment of racism and slavery. I absolutely think this book should be read by school-age children, and used to open a conversation about racism in America, how it has changed and how it still exists in our time.
    And yeah, actually, I now think we should take the n-word out of Huck Finn. I used to think differently, but I’ve changed my mind.
    Why? Because I started to think about what it would be like for me if I had a child of colour, a child that I had to protect against racism and teach to protect him or herself against irrational hate. Or if I had a white child, a child that I had to teach about his or her unfairly assigned privilege in the world, and how to avoid abusing that privilege.
    It seems to me, in either of these cases, being assigned to read Huck Finn isn’t the right place to teach my child about racial epithets, and their power to cut and scar. My child of any colour is going to come out of the book having read something that I have taught them is wrong, and they are going to have to reconcile that with the fact that in some way, their school and their teacher have just told them differently.
    I believe, with or without editing, Huck Finn can teach little kids about racism and slavery, that these are a part of their past and present. Given that, do we really have to keep teaching little kids to call people nigger?

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