It’s Only Words

This being south Florida, literary controversies tend to get ignored, especially when something of more local cultural significance like football dominates the media.  How can a lightweight like Mark Twain compete with Tony Sparano, Bill Cowher, and Jim Harbaugh?  I mean, keep your priorities in order.

Well, as I’ve said before, It’s my bloggy and I’ll rant if I wanna.

A new edition of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is missing something.

Throughout the book — 219 times in all — the word “nigger” is replaced by “slave,” a substitution that was made by NewSouth Books, a publisher based in Alabama, which plans to release the edition in February.

Alan Gribben, a professor of English at Auburn University at Montgomery, approached the publisher with the idea in July. Mr. Gribben said Tuesday that he had been teaching Mark Twain for decades and always hesitated before reading aloud the common racial epithet, which is used liberally in the book, a reflection of social attitudes in the mid-19th century. – NYTimes

There is only one reason for this editorial maneuver: the publisher wants to ensure sales of his book in the schools of “sensitive” bastions of liberal PC-ology.  He fears offense.

I’m from the pre-Rap, pre-Boondocks generation that doesn’t toss the word “nigger” around casually, and recognizes it as an epithet of hatred and racism.   (I don’t use “n-word,” either which is appallingly PC-inspired and almost as offensive to free speech freaks like me.)  Twain used the word in the book’s dialog, correctly reflecting its historical deployment.  Monkeying around with Twain’s prose in this fashion is like painting truck nuts on Mona Lisa’s forehead.

When I was taught the book, my 8th grade English teacher pointed out the word, its use, and its history, and while expressing regret for the coarseness of the language to us dimwitted giggling morons in his charge, explained it was part of what it means to place literature and culture in context.  He got it right.

But that’s asking ‘way too much from today’s pedagogues, whose appetite for educating 21st century American children finishes a distant second to getting through the day, the semester, and safely into pension-collecting retirement.  Besides, the kids don’t give a wrinkled shit, and for certain, some parent is going to pitch a PC bitch-fit.  Let’s just read My Pet Goat instead, and grow up to be President.

It’s Catcher In The Rye all over again.  Fer chrissake, Ackley, haven’t we learned a goddam thing in 70 years?

Meanwhile, in the City of Bodily Harm, there’s this bullcrap about to hit the pasture:

A federal jury will be asked to decide whether it is acceptable for an African American person, but not a white person, to use the “n” word in a workplace.

U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick has ruled that former Fox29 reporter-anchor Tom Burlington’s lawsuit against the station, claiming a double standard and alleging that he was the victim of racial discrimination, may go to trial.

Burlington, who is white, was fired after using the “n” word during a June 2007 staff meeting at which reporters and producers were discussing reporter Robin Taylor’s story about the symbolic burial of the word by the Philadelphia Youth Council of the NAACP. – philly.com

Evidently the news anchor didn’t use the word as an epithet, he was speaking about whether the word “nigger” could be used at all.  But Faux News executives – as PC as the their liberal opponents, I guess – got nervous, and sacked his pale ass.  Burlington points out that at least two Black employees using the term were NOT sacked.

This doesn’t work, folks.  You don’t have to be Ludwig Wittgenstein to appreciate that words are meaningless outside of use and context, and when you ball-gag people, you discourage dialog, communication, and  education.  Hate speech laws are bad enough, a cure more damaging than the disease.  But this?  Dialog about hate speech?  If we can’t clear enough airspace to even discuss these things, we’re never going to get past the issues that create the serious problems to begin with.

/SouthFlorida interest Anyway.  Think the Dolphins will replace Tony Sporano?  Huh?  Huh? Hey Neil can I call somebody a douchebag?

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8 Responses to It’s Only Words

  1. Beardsley says:

    Ludwig Wittgenstein, J.D. Salinger, and Mark Twain all in one post….on a Friday, no less. Nice to see you in high dudgeon.

    It’s all about balance, and the lack thereof. Nobody wants racial intimidation and hate speech everywhere we go, but on the other hand, muzzling people and enforcing some kind of stifling political correctness is equally unacceptable. People of good will and honest intentions find their way through without codifying every other word and action, but the clowns at the corners of the spectrum keep mucking it up.

    Good post.

  2. Ozzie Mandias says:

    “Let’s just say we’re all part of the same hypocrisy, Senator”

    “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen”

    Try checking out a book at the library, “How to rent a Negro”

    And if you’re “a priapic adulterer,” does that mean you sleep with colored girls?

  3. rag says:

    talked abt this just last night. soon we will change, i.e., dumb down because it shows our ignorance, shakespeare (shylock, hamlet, etal.) to mitigate “slurs” abt women, jews…the language of literature is being reduced to mere words. surely, this is a sorry time, revisionist literature. query: if we change the words, is it the same work? or an alternative version?

    • Bill Clinton says:

      query: if we change the words, is it the same work? or an alternative version?

      It all depends on what your definition of “is” is.

  4. Mr Schwinnckle says:

    Talked about this last night on my Elmira NY yahoo group. Yeah I own the group and Elmira has a few famous people that come from there. Mark Twain is one of them. Well he didnt come from there but he lived there and is buried there. So why is it that idiots must mess with and screw around with literary works? The classics. This guy is protecting us from what he says. Protecting who? Why is it that when I worked in an office with 3 other and the owner, that on a daily basis I had to hear the word Nigger from 2 of the employees who were black. But if we as white folks (remember now I am from Elmira, NY, so I am a Damn Yankee, and not a Redneck Rebel) that they get offended and bent out of shape? I dont understand and a bunch of others from the Elmira group are the same way. You dont rewrite books!

  5. Mr Schwinnckle says:

    And one other thing, Neil, your a commie pinko douchebag! RIP!

  6. Squathole says:

    There is a very good discussion in today’s NY Times, referencing many similar attempts to “clean up” literature, and showing by example just how stupid, wrong-headed, and sanctimonious the process is.

    One word says it all: Bowdler.

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