Archive for Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kansas University graduate working to publish combined edition of ‘Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,’ ‘Tom Sawyer’ that replaces N-word

February 5, 2011


Alan Gribben hopes that you’re one of the ones who can read past the word.

Gribben, a noted Mark Twain scholar and professor in the English department at the University of Auburn’s campus in Montgomery, Ala., produced versions of the author’s works that sent shock waves across his academic field that rippled out into the public at large. And he got his start here in Kansas and at Kansas University.

He found himself suddenly thrust into the national spotlight last month when news outlets found out about his edition of Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

The controversy is all about the word. The nasty racial epithet. The N-word.

It appears nine times in “Tom Sawyer” and 219 times in “Huckleberry Finn.”

The word is gone in Gribben’s version of the two works, and replaced with the word “slave.”

Gribben said he’s been disappointed that most television pundits and columnists stop listening there and don’t take time to listen to his explanation.

• • •

Gribben says he’s not trying to rewrite Mark Twain. He views his book as an alternative version for those too offended by the word to pick up the original. It won’t — and shouldn’t — replace the real thing, he said.

It’s easy to dismiss this as political correctness gone too far, he said. He’ll still probably assign the ordinary text in his classes — though he does substitute for the word when teaching.

This often elicits a sigh of relief from some students in his classes, which typically enroll up to one-third black students.

And in the last 40 years, much of the media coverage around the novels centers on the usage of the word. There’s so much more in the books, Gribben said — the social commentary, the biting humor — that people can’t seem to get to because they’re blocked by the word.

But what helped crystallize his idea to create a new edition was the response he got when traveling in the deep south and doing library lectures on Mark Twain.

Teachers told him that the books are not banned outright in their districts, but the works are slowly dropping off lists of approved books that English teachers can teach in their classrooms.

That’s not the case in Lawrence public schools, where “Huckleberry Finn” is taught in the junior year of high school in American Literature I and Advanced American Literature I courses.

But across Alabama (and in other places, too, he’s found), fewer and fewer people are reading “Tom Sawyer” in junior high schools and “Huckleberry Finn” in high schools. It’s all done quietly, he said. You don’t usually read about it.

“I’ve removed the last excuse for not teaching two great masterpieces in American classrooms,” he said.

• • •

Back in the early 1960s, Gribben, a Parsons native, was a KU student, headed for a bachelor’s degree in English. He graduated in 1964 and went on to receive his doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley.

“I developed my capacity for resistance and finding my own way at KU,” he said. That capacity has helped him in fending off the amount of hate messages — nearly 40 e-mails a day at one point, he said — he’s received since the story went national, he said.

His father owned a photo engraving business in Lawrence for a time, and he still visits every few years.

He said he considered Kansas, with its Bleeding Kansas history tied to slavery, a good place to have these kinds of discussions.

While an undergraduate, he participated in civil rights protests along Massachusetts Street and was inspired by professors, such as Stuart Levine, whom he had in English class.

Levine, who still lives in Lawrence, said he has kept up with Gribben.

“He is gentle, smart and kind,” Levine said — almost the exact opposite of the way he’s been portrayed nationally.

• • •

KU has its own expert on Mark Twain. Susan Harris is a distinguished professor of English and an associate director for the Hall Center for the Humanities.

She’s known Gribben for years, she said. While she, like most academics, disagrees with his actions, she also said that she has respect for his motives.

The work is too important for a word to get in the way of reading it, she agreed, but added that it’s important not to rewrite the past.

She doesn’t substitute for the word in her teaching, but feels that the works shouldn’t be taught to junior high students, and probably not even high school students, except for, perhaps, honors classes. It’s difficult for younger readers to understand those themes, she said.

But, as for the word, like it or not, she said, slavery is a part of our country’s history. And that can be an uncomfortable thing to discuss.

“As long as we gloss over it, we’re not standing up to the painfulness of the word,” Harris said.

The controversy shouldn’t detract from Gribben’s abilities as a Twain scholar, she said. His work detailing the contents of Twain’s library, including notes on the pages of books, has been “one of my bibles for the last 25 years,” she said.

• • •

Gribben doesn’t give many media interviews these days and is glad the book — and his introduction — will soon be hitting shelves nationwide so it can speak for itself.

“I don’t see it as my place to run hither and yon and explain myself to people who don’t see fit to inform themselves,” he said.

He’s not sorry, and he still thinks he did the right thing. And when Gribben needs some reassurance, he often turns to Twain.

“Truth is mighty and will prevail,” Twain wrote in a note to himself. But it’s the rest of the quote that Gribben feels is especially pertinent. “There is nothing the matter with this, except it ain’t so.”


Curtis Lange 7 years, 4 months ago

If someone is too offended by a singular word, there are larger underlying problems. Get over it and read the classics...

TopJayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Shallow and disrespectful, not only of Twain, but of Gribbens' faith in people to take things in perspective, and understand the zeitgeist of the times.

Aiko 7 years, 4 months ago

So from the "N" word to slave? Really?

DillonBarnes 7 years, 4 months ago

Fear and censorship of a word only encourages more fear and censorship of that word. It's all about context of use, not the word itself. We don't need to desensitize people to the word, it's an important reminder of slavery in the U.S, the civil rights movement, and a small reminder of what the black community had to suffer through; however that shouldn't prevent a reporter from being able to say the word and it shouldn't prevent a teacher from teacher his/her students.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

I just thought maybe you had a source for your barely concealed racist ignorance. Sorry for not giving you proper credit.

John Yocum 7 years, 4 months ago

So now we're going to be treated to an edited/rewritten version of another classic. This is to keep us from being exposed to anything that might affect our view of others. Well, there are a lot more things in this world that do that already (the news, television programs, movies, our friends, our leaders, to name a few), whether it's right or wrong. This has already been done to books such as the original Mary Poppins and Doctor Dolittle, which some would consider children's lit, but to me it's the same thing. It's insane. Our enlightened protectors started off by editing or banning films/cartoons from the first half of the last century, and now we're moving onto books. I'm sorry I'm so stupid I can't realize this was written in another time and take it for that and move on.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 4 months ago

The word in question is n!gg3r.

When you attempt to point that out, you get this message: Watch your mouth! The words "n----r" are not allowed here.

So it can't be printed in the story, and it can't be discussed on the webpage. Gee, I wonder why the good professor has removed it from the book?

Flap Doodle 7 years, 4 months ago

Congratulations, Alan Gribben. You've taken up the mantle of Thomas Bowlder. Enjoy being the butt of jokes for the next couple of centuries.

Jacks_Smirking_Revenge 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm offended at the use of the word "slave" because the majority of slaves throughout history were not from Africa. To continue to place so much emphasis on, and give power to, one single word is to allow the wound to fester and never heal. When we are able to to say that one word does not define a culture nor does it carry the gravitas of enslavement, then we can say we are truly enlightened. Then, and only then, can we appreciate period works for the gems they are instead of the incendiary pieces they have become.

Jillian Andrews 7 years, 4 months ago

This is all absolutely ridiculous. It's bad enough that a grad student wastes their time, money, and energy on this. Hope you get a good grade, dude. But for our media to adopt this "N-Word" stance -- the ultimate in ridiculousness! COME ON! We all know what it means. It's a hurtful word, but it has been and still is part of our culture. Refusing to print a word in books, newspapers, silly have we become as a society? Do you really think NOT printing the word is going to change anything? Focus on REAL ISSUES. We've been doing this since when....the OJ trial? It's almost 20 years out....still hear the N-WORD on a regular basis. THANK GOODNESS WE DON'T PRINT THE ACTUAL WORD!!! I'd like to start using J-WORD in place of Jayhawk. I think it's offensive to the Missourians that were killed 150 years ago. By not printing the word Jayhawk, people will stop using it and upsetting Tiger fans. This nonsensical act will change our culture.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 4 months ago

Didn't YDP learn anything from Lenny Bruce? Here's Dustin Hoffman doing a classic Lenny bit:

kdkja 7 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

Maybe you should volunteer to do the readings for him in his classes so that when the N-word comes up, it has some authenticity behind it.

kernal 7 years, 4 months ago

So, all of those who have had derisive names applied to them because of their ethnicity or heritiage will now be called slaves? The politically correct word for Wetback will be slave (they certainly make "slave" wages compared to the rest of us in the US), the politically correct word for Italians, once described with the "D" word will now be slaves, the "C" word for Asians will now be slave, the derogative word used against the Irish in the 1800s (can't remember what is is because I so appalled at this) will now be slave and the ancient Greeks will be only referred to as slaves after the Romans seized Greece?

Changing a name does not change history.

Is Allen from Texas where they write their own askewed view of U.S. history for their students?

JustNoticed 7 years, 4 months ago

It's a Tom Sawyer reference. Try to keep up.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 4 months ago

There is no harm in words; only in the way they are spoken. There is far more danger in censorship than there is in words.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 4 months ago

The word is an illiteracy of the word "Negro" (which means "black" in several foreign languages). This is political correctness gone completely bonkers. The perpetually professionally offended crowd has again reared it's ugly head and the spectre of censorship (even practiced by this news-rag) glares at us again. Hitler ordered the burning of books he did not like. This dude chooses to alter them. It is a sad, sad day when such disgusting behavior, such attempts to sugar-coat history, such soppy attempts to cover up the ugly warts and shame of the past. This book should be on the banned books list, not the original.

Adam P Atterson 7 years, 4 months ago

I heard a black comedian comment on this the other day, he said he'd rather be called the n-word than slave because as an n-word he is still free. Wish I could remember who it was. Not suprised some jerk from KS is behind this, figures.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 4 months ago

Gribben earned a B.A. at the University of Kansas, an M.A. at the University of Oregon and a Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley.

Shocker. My favorite line in the article is where he claims he isn't trying to rewrite Twain... despite the fact that he is quite literally rewriting Twain.

This gem is from the wiki:

"For nearly forty years I have led college classes, bookstore forums, and library reading groups in detailed discussions of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in California, Texas, New York, and Alabama, and I always recoiled from uttering the racial slurs spoken by numerous characters, including Tom and Huck. I invariably substituted the word “slave” for Twain’s ubiquitous n-word whenever I read any passages aloud. Students and audience members seemed to prefer this expedient, and I could detect a visible sense of relief each time, as though a nagging problem with the text had been addressed."

Really? He could "detect a visible sense of relief" that he read the work incorrectly? Fascinating.

TopekaBlade 7 years, 4 months ago

"But across Alabama (and in other places, too, he’s found), fewer and fewer people are reading “Tom Sawyer” in junior high schools and “Huckleberry Finn” in high schools. It’s all done quietly, he said. You don’t usually read about it."

And it's because of the N-word? There are places in Alabama and the deep South where they don't want to admit that slavery was a cause of the Civil War and, like many places, a general reluctance to talk about racial issues in United States history.

No, Professor Gribben, you give one word far too much credit. The issue is far greater than one word.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 4 months ago

And not just in Alabama either. I have most recently worked around individuals who still call the Martin Luther King holiday "Nigg$r Day", who said that the day of President Obama's innaugration, which was right beside the MLK holiday, "Nigg$r Day 2. It is still systematic and entrenched in the lower levels of our society. I have heard many such slurs, mostly from small town people who come to Lawrence to work, and it is probably reflective of the stuff they hear on the street, from their neighbors and at their churches. Do not be deceived, racial prejudice and bigotry are very well alive in Kansas, and clearly visible in many places. It is passed from ignorant and illiterate people to their childern and who adopt this attitude to spread to their offspring.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

I think this particular bit of editing is a bit silly, but the fact is that during the time frame of these stories, the "N-word" and "slave" were actually nearly synonymous, especially in the South. And after the abolition of slavery, it was used by whites as a term of derision and reinforced the subservient position of African Americans right through the Jim Crow area, and beyond.

davidsmom 7 years, 4 months ago

There is plenty of literature that has something that offends a lot of people. That is no reason to re-write the literature. If it got published, then either read it or don't read it. It is not your right to re-write what the original author wrote.

seriouscat 7 years, 4 months ago

"There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist/Unitarian, Irish/Itilian/Octegnearian/Zen Buddhist. Zionist/Seventh-day Adventist, Women's Lib/Republican,Mattachine/FourSquare Gospel feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse.

Every dimwit editor who sees himself as the the source of all dreary blanc-mange plain porridge unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of any author who dares speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme."

Ray Bradbury, in his epilogue to the 1979 edition of Fahrenheit 451 after numerous people had asked him numerous times to sensor his work to make it more PC.

My favorite part:

"the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights end and my territorial imperitives begin, run and rule. If Mormons don't like my plays, let them write their own. If the Irish hate my Dublin stories, let them rent a typewriter. If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmilk teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly sum, do not insult me with beheadings, finger-choppings or lung deflations you plan for my works. I need my head to shake or nod, my hands to wave into a fist, my lungs to shout or whisper with. I will not go gently onto a shelf, degutted, to become a non-book.

All you umpires, back to the bleachers. Referees, hit the showers,. It's my game. I pitch, I hit, I catch. I run the bases. At sunset I've won or lost. At sunrise I'm out again, giving the old try. And no one can help me. Not even you."

tomatogrower 7 years, 4 months ago

He may seem to be giving a reason for the change as being sensitive to the n word, but it sounds more like a part of the whitewashing of history that has been going on recently. Let's just forget about the racism of the past and pretend it never happened. Especially since he now lives in Alabama. Not to stereotype, but there are still aren't a whole lot of Alabamans who are uncomfortable with that word. Not all, but probably a majority.

RoeDapple 7 years, 4 months ago

Not a fan or user of the N-word, or the F-bomb for that matter. However, altering the works of the past to appease the sensitivities of the politically correct is laughable at best. "Scarface", something like 32nd down on the list of movies where the F-bomb is dropped comes to mind. Can you imagine Al Pacino screaming "Fornicate!" 207 times as he sprays machine gun fire through 90 minutes of film?

For the record: Although I've been guilty of using profanity on occasion I am not impressed with it's excessive use. A teacher once told me "Profanity is at best proof of a limited vocabulary."

Where the hell did she get that idea . . .

RoeDapple 7 years, 4 months ago

Only if your vocabulary did not include other words that more accurately described what you are trying to say. For instance, does " he's a no good S.O.B." accurately describe his mother?

Orwell 7 years, 4 months ago

As distasteful as the n-word has become, just ask an African American whether he/she would prefer to be called "slave."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

As I pointed out above, the two words were at one time synonymous. And that probably explains why African Americans don't like it, especially when it's used by white folks, some of whose ancestors once enslaved them and continued to oppress them even after slavery had theoretically ended-- slavery didn't really fully end in the South until the onset of WWII.

FloridaSunshine 7 years, 4 months ago

@ Solomon...I agree with you. You've made a most rational, and urgent, suggestion...we have to teach the children well. As is so strikingly stated via song in "South Pacific", children have to be taught, very carefully taught, to hate. My seven-year-old granddaughter wouldn't know how to even begin to hate...she's still filled with wonder and delight at every encounter with another person, child or adult...she never sees color. It's a beautiful thing to watch...each person she meets is a new friend in her opinion. We know she will learn acceptance of all others by watching and listening to us, her family. Then when she has to face a world full of hate, she'll know that each of us, as members of her family, do not hate. We're hoping that when she has decisions to make about hating vs. acceptance, she will know how we, as her family, have shown her to live with peace in her own heart. Whether they are white, black, brown...the color of the skin doesn't matter...all haters have been taught to someone, somehow, somewhere. And you can be sure, they were taught early on in life.

Just had a conversation with her (my 7-year-old granddaughter) today about "bad words"...(she overheard an incident when she was at a restaurant with her mom and dad, not using the word we're talking about here, but the usual repulsive words one hears from those with limited vocabularies)...she came up with the reasoning of "limited vocabularies" all by herself...she said, "I know those people haven't learned other words to use." From the mouths of babes...

We have kept an open dialog with this precious child since birth...she knows she can ask us anything and we will treat her questions with respect. We've had many incredible jaw-dropping conversations with her in which we were the "students" in the presence of someone who seems to be still fresh from the evirons of God. Open dialog is the key, I believe, for all of us. Isn't that why we all bother to type in our opinions on this site...we all desire to be heard...acknowledged...perhaps even appreciated?

I must add that what some of you know about the south is not make "blanket" statements to cover all of us. You don't know me. You don't know my thoughts and my heart. I am proud of my southern heritage...part of it is from Alabama...part of it is from North Carolina...but I was born and raised in Florida. I was raised never hearing "the word" discussed on these posts ever uttered from either of my parents. Never a word of discrimination/prejudice toward other human beings. Never even a curse word! When I was in college, in Atlanta, in the midst of the civil rights movement, I learned what hate is all about. All these years later, I have thanked my parents many times for the way they raised me...(and my siblings) example.

FloridaSunshine 7 years, 4 months ago

Very good question, grigori...wonder if Gribben forgot about him...sure hope so!!

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 4 months ago

Totally off topic but I love your Mason icon.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 4 months ago

Bad idea to deny our past and part of our present. Anyone who thinks Twain was a racist hasn't read his work. What's next? The Bible? There are some offensive words in there too.

RoeDapple 7 years, 4 months ago

Well let's see . . . we have Hebrew, Greek and Latin translations. The Codex Gigas and the Gutenberg variations. Old English, Middle English, Early Modern, Modern, King James and "Living" Bible. I'm sure I have missed some, but surely there have been subtle (and not so subtle) changes between versions to save souls or offend nearly everyone over the years.

Abdu Omar 7 years, 4 months ago

Obviously, we haven't overcome that word. We are a racist society when we say that Obama is the first Black President. He is the President. Who cares that he is black? If we look at people as people and not their race, then we have something, but we don't. We see the color first. I am appalled that we would censor any book written. let alone a classic. This is taking the time our of the book and leaving it naked. It is just not true to Mr. Twain.

Stuart Evans 7 years, 4 months ago

I noticed that during the state of the union address.. Boehner is actually about the same shade as Obama. Both are painful to watch/listen to, and it has nothing to do with their pigment.

rcr 7 years, 4 months ago

So are they also going to replace "Injun Joe" with Native American Joe?

Don Whiteley 7 years, 4 months ago

Why not just delete all references to blacks being slaves as well? That's the real underlying issue. The fact that several black slaves ran away from their oppressive masters and became pirates is another part of history revisionists want to change. If we revise history and re-write or destroy major literary works, are we any better than the Nazis? History is history and its in stone; it can never be changed regardless how bad it was. Then again, these are lessons we should be intelligent enough by now to learn from.

Kontum1972 7 years, 4 months ago

Jeez...this clown needs to get a life....if twain was alive he would shoot this clown..or beat him with his cane...

rtwngr 7 years, 4 months ago

Why don't we make a big pile of Mark Twain books, light it on fire and goose step circles around it singing "Deutchlandlied". This PC ka ka has gone too far.

rtwngr 7 years, 4 months ago

Why don't we make a big pile of Mark Twain books, light it on fire and goose step circles around it singing "Deutchlandlied". This PC ka ka has gone too far.

irvan moore 7 years, 4 months ago

you can't rewrite history, how arrogant to think he could/should edit Mark Twain.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 4 months ago

In the next revision, Tom and Huck will be emo kids and Jim is a transgender person.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 4 months ago

Let's shut down a block of Mass St. and have ourselves a good old-fashioned book burning!

Since Mark Twain obviously teaches racism, let's burn all his books!

number3of5 7 years, 4 months ago

Okay, let's rewrite the Little House on the Prairie books and any others that use derogrative native american references. Just removing the word savage or heathern would take time as well as squaw. Come on people, we can read past a word and remember that that was a part of our history and we white wash history enough.

number3of5 7 years, 4 months ago

Okay, let's rewrite the Little House on the Prairie books and any others that use derogrative native american references. Just removing the word savage or heathern would take time as well as squaw. Come on people, we can read past a word and remember that that was a part of our history and we white wash history enough.

Kat Christian 7 years, 4 months ago

Twain was a man of his day and at the time the reality was the use of the "N-word", therefore I don't think Twain would object to substituting this word in his book as long as it was noted somewhere in there why it was substituted. As for this statement by Harris: "As long as we gloss over it, we’re not standing up to the painfulness of the word,” Harris said. I disagree because by not publishing the "N-word" is standing up to the painfulness of it. Isn't that obvious in itself? If its not published it should not be spoken. Sometimes change is good. I applaud Gribben for his effort.

TopekaBlade 7 years, 4 months ago

Actually, there were many attempts to ban Huckleberry Finn while Twain was alive, and he came out strongly against those efforts. Man of his day or not, I don't believe Twain would take this alteration lying down.

Kat Christian 7 years, 4 months ago

Interesting!! I did not know this. Thanks

FloridaSunshine 7 years, 4 months ago

@sunshine_noise....Oh, how I disagree with you! I think Twain would have a good old fashioned southern hissy fit (ha!) if he knew his work was being tampered with!! I know I would!! The "painfulness of the word" is so painful to me, I cannot bear to even read Twain's writings...especially as I get older (for whatever reason that may be)...still, I believe, taking away the "N-word" is not "standing up to the painfulness of it" is changing a published work!!
I cannot tolerate that and I think this Gribben person is quite mistaken in his thinking that altering published literature is a noble thing to do.

RibMan 7 years, 4 months ago

To show my support of this KU grad, I'm burning my "Blazing Saddles" DVD as well as all my LP's, cassettes, VHS tapes, DVD's of Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 4 months ago

If I point out the fact that Merriam-Webster defines the word "niggardly" (which had its origins in the 16th century) as "1.: grudgingly mean about spending or granting : begrudging 2: provided in meanly limited supply "

Does my post get deleted? Am I guilty of hate-speech?

Origin of the word:

FloridaSunshine 7 years, 4 months ago

@MacHeath...this IS a discussion forum, is it not? What else does one do on a discussion forum but discuss? What in the world is wrong with us "white folks", as you put it, discussing Twain and how his writings are being changed by someone? Do you know all the folks who have posted? Do you know that none of them are black? I certainly don't. Everyone is welcome, aren't they, to offer a post? Why do you think "black folks... are too busy doubling over in laughter"? Don't they read literature, too? Would ANY of us want OUR words changed if we had published work out there for the reading? You're assuming a lot, MacHeath...and as I told Ophiuchus one day, when we assume, it makes an ass out of u and me. :~)

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 4 months ago

Just out of curiosity, how do you tell/know who is white and who is black on the internet? Inquiring minds want to know.

FloridaSunshine 7 years, 4 months ago

In my worst nightmare, I cannot imagine changing the words of a published work. If I have purchased books through the years, and can tell I'm not going to find the language or subjects to my liking, I ask friends or family members if they would like to have the book. If not, I donate the "offensive" book to Goodwill. (Goodwill has wonderful bookstores in different cities...the books sell for a fraction of the cost of new ones and are usually in very good condition.) So, everyone can choose what they want to read. Because I hardly ever read fiction, I hardly ever give a book away which I have purchased for myself. I have to admit, Twain is VERY difficult for me to read. Both "Huck Finn" and "Tom Sawyer" offend me greatly...BUT...I will defend, with gusto, Twain's right to pen as he wished!! I'm still trying to get my works least he was published!! s-i-g-h

Solomon came up with THE best solution for the books using "offensive" language which are on school reading lists...his second paragraph, especially, should be how all teachers handle this problematic situation (my opinion). Wonderful solution!! Please take time to read what he had to say. I don't know how anyone could disagree with his post...

JGr 7 years, 4 months ago

I, for one, think this is a good idea. The word can't even be printed in the newspaper, and isn't allowed in general conversation within the junior high and high schools. This text will allow English teachers to continue using a controversial text, removing one of biggest things parents get upset about. I disagree with changing the word to "slave" in all instances, and I think there should be a preface in the book explaining the changes. However, I hope people can be more open minded to this option.

FloridaSunshine 7 years, 4 months ago

Starlight...LOVE IT!!!! And truly understandable being raised where your children were raised!! I'm wondering how you handled THAT situation...HA!!!! Priceless!!! I adore the innocence of children!

mr_right_wing 7 years, 4 months ago

The use of the word in this book can serve as a reminder of how African-Americans were once treated. "Slave" Jim just isn't as powerful & shocking, it somewhat dilutes the impact of how bad things really were.

My opinion.

verity 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm starting to feel dizzy---I think this is the second time I have agreed with you.

I was raised to be as anti-racist as they come and reading books about slavery as a child shocked and pained me, but I certainly understood the context. I don't think we need to treat our children like they can't handle the truth. Besides this doesn't even make sense.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 4 months ago the problem with you, or me..?

I mean, who am I to be writing any post that anyone agrees with!? So out of character.

verity 7 years, 4 months ago

And who said rightwingers don't have a sense of humor!

Paul R Getto 7 years, 4 months ago

MRW: I agree. America still has slaves but most of them now are white or Asian. Sadly, not much has changed since ancient times; we are just more subtle now. Twain's message still speaks to us and we need to heed it, in the original language. "Today, at any given time, tens of thousands of people are working as slaves in America: cleaning houses, working on farms, or, most commonly, prostituting themselves for the profit of their owners. They are bought and sold, just like they used to be in the American South, and few of those who engage in slave trafficking are ever brought to justice." ===

mr_right_wing 7 years, 4 months ago

To me, part of the big impact is that these characters LIKED Jim, but it was a time that even in ignorance they still used such a demeaning word. I think Jim knew it was demeaning, but it was what everyone called him; just (intended as) a reminder that he was sub-human.

Next let's change "The Scarlet Letter" from an "A" (adulterer) to a more friendly "C" for cheater. Diminishes the impact.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 4 months ago

By the news stories I see, Asians being held as slaves in America are often being abused by other Asians. Same thing with people from south of the border.

irvan moore 7 years, 4 months ago

remember when they changed the sign going into Lecompton to make it more politically correct? there are a whole lot more serious problems these "smart" people ought to be spending their time solving.

dogsandcats 7 years, 4 months ago

I have nothing of substance to add, other than my disapproval.

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 4 months ago

Judge Thatcher has a daughter, Becky, who was Tom's girlfriend in Tom Sawyer and whom Huck calls “Bessie”.

Was that error corrected in the new book?

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