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The Continued Censorship of Huckleberry Finn

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the but-there's-a-bad-word-in-it dept.

Books 1073

eldavojohn writes "Over a hundred years after the death of its author, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn will be released in a censored format, removing two derogatory racial slurs: 'injun' and 'nigger.' The latter appears some 219 times in the original novel but both will be replaced by the word 'slave.' An Alabama publisher named NewSouth Books will be editing and censoring the book so that schools and parents might provide their children the ability to study the classic without fear of properly addressing the torturous history of racism and slavery in The United States of America. The Forbes Blog speculates that e-readers could provide us this service automatically. Salon admirably provides point versus counterpoint while the internet at large is in an uproar over this seemingly large acceptance of censorship as necessary even on books a hundred years old. The legendary Samuel Langhorne Clemens himself once wrote, 'the difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter,' and now his own writing shall test the truth in that today."

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1073 comments

I have a much more ambitious vision (4, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777714)

I want to live in a world where *everything* that makes me uncomfortable or might cause pain or conflict is excised from history. After all, if it never happened, no one can be pissed off about it--and we can all get along fine. No more racial resentment, no more ethnic conflicts, no more religious wars. We get along, we always got along, end of story. Israel and Palestine always co-existed in peace beside each other. Europeans, Africans, and Asians discovered the New world together and have lived here peacefully together ever since. Every religion is the religion of peace and always has been. "Genocide" is just an abstract concept used by fiction writers, not something that has ever happened in the real world.

Laugh if you want, but wouldn't that make for a much better world? Why focus on the pain and resentment when we can reinvent ourselves as something much better?

Sure it all involves a good dose of self-delusion, but a lot of people have improved their lives greatly with a little self-delusion. After all, no one starts down their path to self-improvement by admitting to themselves that they are an unexceptional, not particularly good or worthwhile person. They start by telling themselves "I am a good person, I can do better" even if they know deep-down that they're lying to themselves. And, quite often, the lie actually BECOMES the reality. Convincing yourself that you're a better person can actually MAKE you better. Why not apply the same principle to society as a whole?

I'm not being a troll here, I'm asking a serious question. Wouldn't we be better off for it?

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777748)

I'm not being a troll here, I'm asking a serious question. Wouldn't we be better off for it?

And also doomed to repeat it all?

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (2, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777994)

And also doomed to repeat it all?

Well, that's the classic argument. But I would contend the opposite. Our knowledge of our nasty history hasn't stopped us from repeating ourselves again and again, after all. Perhaps we would be better served by making the very *concept* of genocide or war simply inconceivable. I think we would be a lot better off with "But we've never done this, we've always been better than that!" than with "We'll, here we go yet again."

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778160)

no, no, you got it all wrong.
you just gotta kill the bullies while in kindergarden, so they don't make up new nasty words.

(just in case: I AM NOT BEING SERIOUS.)

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34777752)

to be perfectly honest, that sounds like something a nigger would do

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (2, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777772)

"Laugh if you want, but wouldn't that make for a much better world?"

Yes, it only needs an old man in the sky to make the delusion perfect.

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (0)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778168)

Now, now. We could also edit the existence of religion out of history. That would be interesting. I'd love to set up an isolated control group (composed of orphan babies and robot nannies), give them a fabricated history of humanity and see if religion spontaneously redevelops.

Yeah, it's a good thing I'm not a billionaire. There's an evil scientist within me just waiting to be unleashed. :-)

There's a supervillain there, too. Once the experiment is done, I make the colony my minions by introducing myself as their god. :-D

And why start NWO censorship with this kind of... (2)

Fibe-Piper (1879824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777800)

....punk assed half measure. Why aren't we calling for outright book burnings, in the town square!

Re:And why start NWO censorship with this kind of. (3, Informative)

grub (11606) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778110)


I guess the GNAA will have to rename their fine organization.

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777806)

No, we would not be better off for it, at least in my opinion. Just ignoring our history of atrocities, dealing with traumata by choosing to forget will not make for a healthy society, but rather for a deeply repressed one. There is no easier way than looking at our past, recognizing the shit we did as such and extending our hands towards each other in spite of it.

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778142)

It sounds counter-intuitive, I know. But think of all the resentment, hatred, and anger that result from that knowledge. How many Irishmen can fire off a litany of injustices that the English have visited on them? How many Palestinians, Israelis, Tutsi, Armenians, etc.--whose wars go on, and on, and on because of resentments that never die, never get forgotten? Think of all that we could gain in exchange for a little ignorance, a little self-delusion.

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (2)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777840)

Sounds a bit like Huxley's Brave New World minus the genetic tampering.

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (4, Insightful)

magsol (1406749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777872)

I wholeheartedly disagree. I think such mistakes are opportunities for self-improvement, without which we might never make spontaneous advancements, be they anthropological, scientific, philosophical, or otherwise. Pain and suffering are intrinsic to our existence here, so while eliminating them entirely might seem on one hand like a nice pie-in-the-sky goal, I believe it completely misses the point. To try and ignore something that is perpetually interwoven into the fabric of our existence is to discount a huge opportunity for growth, and I think that would be doing a great disservice to the human race.

It's this discomfort and pain that strips away all the bureaucratic bullshit, all the superficial nonsense, and forces people to be who they really are. Whether they sink or swim is entirely up to them, and I think it's necessary for everyone to experience, if only from a perspective of self-discovery (but also for everyone else's benefit). I realize this is all sort of hand-wavy philosophical, but I think it's born out in concrete fashion every day.

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777934)

Interesting, but if we're going to do that, let's at least re-write history to where we resolved conflicts in a responsible and respectful manner rather than throwing tantrums on the world stage. Conflict will always exist, and if there's no history of resolving it appropriately, then there will be no model for future generations to look to, which is probably worse than learning all the things that didn't work (i.e., true history).

(Cue the Ted Stevens tantrum "No!" response in 3... 2... 1...)

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34777948)

So what you are really saying is that we need some sort of Ministry of Truth and we can all live happily in an Orwellian dystopia!

WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777954)

that's great, murders and rapes and crimes against humanity can just be ignored: they didn't happen, it never happened.

And no one needs to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions, we'll just sweep it all under the rug.

Of course I'm being sarcastic, such a philosophy would allow the world to become even more evil than it is now. Already we have bankers and mega-corporations financing both sides of war, and enslaving and maiming and murdering to line their pockets and increase their power.

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (1)

el3mentary (1349033) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777958)

I want to live in a world where *everything* that makes me uncomfortable or might cause pain or conflict is excised from history. After all, if it never happened, no one can be pissed off about it--and we can all get along fine. No more racial resentment, no more ethnic conflicts, no more religious wars. We get along, we always got along, end of story. Israel and Palestine always co-existed in peace beside each other. Europeans, Africans, and Asians discovered the New world together and have lived here peacefully together ever since. Every religion is the religion of peace and always has been. "Genocide" is just an abstract concept used by fiction writers, not something that has ever happened in the real world.

Laugh if you want, but wouldn't that make for a much better world? Why focus on the pain and resentment when we can reinvent ourselves as something much better?

Sure it all involves a good dose of self-delusion, but a lot of people have improved their lives greatly with a little self-delusion. After all, no one starts down their path to self-improvement by admitting to themselves that they are an unexceptional, not particularly good or worthwhile person. They start by telling themselves "I am a good person, I can do better" even if they know deep-down that they're lying to themselves. And, quite often, the lie actually BECOMES the reality. Convincing yourself that you're a better person can actually MAKE you better. Why not apply the same principle to society as a whole?

I'm not being a troll here, I'm asking a serious question. Wouldn't we be better off for it?

Because to forget our history will lead it to repeat itself, human nature will ensure it.

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777978)

I for one look forward to the creation of this "Demolition Man" world where old people must swear in a public bathroom to get citations in lieu of toilet paper
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrWcEGDXOUg)
and nursery songs are the only songs allowed on the radio.

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34777986)

Well, you are a blue pill person.
I am a red pill person. A lie is a lie. I prefer the truth even when it makes me miserable. There's no use in building your life on a lie.

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (4, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777998)

No, self delusion is what brings us religion.

Self improvement for me came when I accepted that I needed to improve. Before, I always thought that I was a good person and didn't need to try harder. Coincidentally my realisation of a need for self improvement also coincided with me losing my religion.

I chose to accept truth and pain over just pretending that I was being watched over by some all powerful being. There is something to be said for being happy, but I can't bring myself to sacrifice truth for happiness, otherwise I'd probably still be religious.

You also appear to have not noticed the basic element of human nature that causes us to split into groups and have an "us vs them" mentality, which means that there will be vehement disagreements and wars between groups of people in the future anyway, no matter what people believe happened in the past. The best way to reduce this kind of thing is from learning and communication, not ignorance. Even things like having sports teams to love and hate instead of making a big deal of nationality are good things I suppose. They keep the dumb people distracted with shiny things so they have less time to hate other kinds of "different".

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778030)

Aside from the impossibility of it, anything not the truth is bullshit, so you are proposing a world constructed of bullshit.

And people will just invent new horrors and hates and hates.

Why focus on the pain and resentment when we can reinvent ourselves as something much better?

*shrug* Intelligent people can do that now. People of many different backgrounds can and do get along outside of corporate stock photography. It's the idiots who carry on ancestral hate. They'd just find other reasons to hate.

Make for a good novel or movie, though. I'm curious how you get 7 billion people to agree to hide the truth from every human born from this moment onward. It's an interesting puzzle.

Didn't humanity in Brin's Uplift series have to sanitize a lot of human history (for example, mistreatment of lower species) before the aliens arrived to take a look?

James P. Hogan had a book where a seed ship sent to colonize another world sent no living humans. Embryos were generated and raised by machines. You'd almost have to go to that length to hide the past from a generation of humans. You just put whatever history you want into the ship's computers.

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34778036)

I'd like to offer a humourous counterpoint, however I have been blessed with infallible morality. So, I'm instead going to agree with you and suggest we erradicate 3rd world poverty by eradicating the human population in the 3rd world. Millions saved from poverty and afterall, we can do no wrong!

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (1)

bareman (60518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778084)

"I want to live in a world where *everything* that makes me uncomfortable or might cause pain or conflict is excised from history."

Then your utopia is to be dead. All persons present potential for pain or conflict, even yourself.

"a lot of people have improved their lives greatly with a little self-delusion"

What's the evidence that delusion is the cause of someone improving their life? Some folks have improved their lives in spite of their delusions, but it was likely a resolution to improve that did it for them.

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (5, Insightful)

Imagix (695350) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778102)

We are at war with Eurasia. We have always been at war with Eurasia.

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778104)

When I was a kid I wished very hard that I would have the newest video games. Guess what? Just wishing for something doesn't make it true, in fact it makes things worse because you're not actually out doing anything about it.

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (1)

Pandrake (1513617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778118)

Were the characters in the book slaves, or is that just the new politically correct term for African American and Native American? How about excising the icky bits from our past by calling everywhere and everyone someplace and someone instead of Africa or America or Lawyer, Butcher, etc... That'd be oh so easy to understand what the past is, ay? Convincing ourselves that the past wasn't something that it was is called delusion, not reality or health. Words spoken in the past cannot be removed even with a time machine any more than smacking someone in the nose doesn't hurt if you say you're sorry.

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (5, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778128)

They start by telling themselves "I am a good person, I can do better" even if they know deep-down that they're lying to themselves. And, quite often, the lie actually BECOMES the reality. Convincing yourself that you're a better person can actually MAKE you better. Why not apply the same principle to society as a whole?

I'm not being a troll here, I'm asking a serious question. Wouldn't we be better off for it?

The problem is that there are also a lot of people who start by telling themselves "I am a good person. I am doing the best I can" - all the while slugging back some McD's and tossing that non-biodegradable cup out the window into a grassy field. Or "I am such a good person. I'm better than those filthy n*gger thieves". Not trolling - there are people who believe that stuff. Believing in self-delusion often leads to arrogance.

In order to be a better person you need to have some reference to be better of. Forgetting genocide, racism, sexism, rapings, killings, wars, etc - tossing all that aside just leaves it open to happen again. Without knowing it happened, and the consequences associated with it, there is no reason it won't just continue. This is like history 101, those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it.

Honestly they need to put it back in there. Who is being offended by this word? African Americans? Let me put it this way: By leaving it in there you help propogate the story of how your people were treated during those times. How will our children know the N word offends you if we don't give the N word it's proper context?

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (1)

mlingojones (919531) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778140)

Sure it all involves a good dose of self-delusion, but a lot of people have improved their lives greatly with a little self-delusion

We are at war with Eurasia. We have always been at war with Eurasia.

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34778184)

OK - I'm going to assume the parent isn't being sarcastic for a moment.

No in a word.

This book, along with many of it's kind, are a reminder of the way things used to be, a historical record of a kind. There will always be racial hatred - or just generally hatred of anyone who is different in some way. If you want people to see how bad it was - and where you need to go next to improve things, reading unedited versions of books like this are the right thing to do

Self delusion only brings depression, or at the very least every else thinking you're a bit of a dick for making out that you're a better person than you actually are.

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34778250)

Not sure if you are joking or this is a disturbing example of education and life experience - Perhaps you have heard - Those who cannot remember the past (accurately) are condemned to repeat it.

> After all, if it never happened, no one can be pissed off about it

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778252)

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" - George Santayana

Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34778264)

So, why the knee-jerk reaction? Where did it say that you would never again be able to get the original version? Who is forcing you to read the censored version instead?

I'm not being a troll here, I'm asking a serious question. Wouldn't we be better off for it?

Nah. You're trolling.

Ministry of Truth? (4, Insightful)

iONiUM (530420) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777742)

Nothing like ret-conning the evil out of our past. I mean, it's not like we should remember history so we don't repeat it, or anything. Protect the children at all costs, their innocent eyes shouldn't ever know the word "nigger."

There was some sarcasm in there, in case you didn't notice.

Re:Ministry of Truth? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34777826)

"Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary."
- George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 3

Re:Ministry of Truth? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34778092)

I think you are misquoting that book.

My NewSouth Books edition of 1984 doesn't have that paragraph in there at all.

Re:Ministry of Truth? (3, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778176)

I'm just going to play the Devil's advocate here, largely because the knee jerk reaction (and a reaction that I share) is that this is censorship and censorship should be prevented at all costs.

But, what if you look at it, not as censorship, but as translation. Language changes a lot in 100 years, and the meaning of the this particular word has changed even more than the average. I suspect that many of the instances of the word 'nigger' in the original text are not in line with the racist, hateful connotations that are associated with the word today. It is possible that changing the word to something less emotionally charged would more accurately reflect, from a purely narrative, non-historical point of view, the intentions of the author.

Of course, there are doubtless instances in the book where the use is meant to be racist and emotionally charged, I can't find any logical reason why those instances should be changed. And of course the targeting of this single word for changes without changing other words and phrasing in the story to make it more easily understood for the students is clearly censorship or at least pandering.

Re:Ministry of Truth? (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778208)

US history is particularly subject to ret-conning, at least in the US. That's because a lot of folks can't stomach the idea that their country was founded on the very intentional and institutionalized genocide of one group of people and the enslavement of another. Particularly those who's ancestors fought and in some cases died for those causes of genocide and slavery have a hard time dealing with it. And yet it happened, and not acknowledging it happens leads to all sorts of trouble today, over a century after the actual evil is over.

For instance, when the press interviewed attendees of the Secession Ball in South Carolina, not one of them acknowledged that the rights that South Carolina was fighting for was the right to own slaves.

Re:Ministry of Truth? (5, Informative)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778248)

Here is a great quote that the morons failed to realize when they read the book because they were too offended to learn the lesson Twain was trying to teach.
Russell Baker wrote:

"The people whom Huck and Jim encounter on the Mississippi are drunkards, murderers, bullies, swindlers, lynchers, thieves, liars, mows, frauds, child abusers, numbskulls, hypocrites, windbags and traders in human flesh. All are white. The one man of honor in this phantasmagoria is 'Nigger Jim,' as Twain called him to emphasize the irony of a society in which the only true gentleman was held beneath contempt."

New difinitions...? (1)

El Fantasmo (1057616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777810)

Does this mean when I say "slave" I'm actually saying "nigger?"

Re:New difinitions...? (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777886)

Well, it could have been an "Injun".

If they're going to "fix" it, they could have at least "fixed" it right and changed Injun to "Native American".

Re:New difinitions...? (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777950)

Oh wait, now that I read TFA instead of trusting TFS, now I see that slashdot has a new definition of the word "both", and "Injun" will be replaced by "Indian", not "slave".

Re:New difinitions...? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34777946)

So you have a master and nigger drive now?

Re:New difinitions...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34778124)

of course by using the word slave you risk offending the Russians.

Re:New difinitions...? (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778272)

Does this mean when I say "slave" I'm actually saying "nigger?"

Don't laugh too hard ... I've actually heard of some organizations in which someone goes on a program to try to make everybody stop referring to "master server/slave server". Trying to make someone understand that this is an industry term and they need to stop being overly sensitive can be an awfully tricky thing. (I once saw someone actually object to the use of the term "black" when it was ... get this ... descriptive of the color of an inanimate object on the grounds that it could be offensive.)

Some people seem to go out of their way to be sure that it's not possible to give offense. I find it especially sad that what is a really good depiction of what life was really like at that time is being "cleansed" so that we can all pretend that there wasn't racial tension in the South at that time.

I don't support people going around using the N word all over the place -- but this is a piece of literature, and should be allowed to stand. What next, altering Merchant of Venice [wikipedia.org] so that Shylock wasn't Jewish? (I'm not supporting the anti-Semitic stereotypes, merely that the play is 400+ years old, and it's a little late for political correctness.)

Orwell was an optimist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34777824)

The thought police are gaining more power.

This is why e-books are evil. How would one even know when censorship occurs.

Orwell was an optimist

Is being a ludite really bad ? I am begining to think not. I am becomming more unwilling to participate in this new electronic era.
The glory days have past, looking more and more like a yoke, not a wheel.

Re:Orwell was an optimist (1)

pairo (519657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778134)

It's easier to compare electronic formats, than dead tree ones.

Re:Orwell was an optimist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34778174)

If you have the original...

If you can't handle the n-word... (4, Insightful)

chispito (1870390) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777834)

If you are too young to maturely handle the n-word, then you are too young to handle the implications of the story anyway.

Re:If you can't handle the n-word... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34777862)

Says the guy who can't write nigger.

Re:If you can't handle the n-word... (2)

chispito (1870390) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778234)

Says the guy who can't write nigger.

Perhaps I should log out and type it?

I was trying to put attention on the book. A child who can't contextualize Huck's upbringing and the society he travels through will have no hope of appreciating how Huck and Jim relate. And if a child can't process that, then you really shouldn't be throwing words or ugliness at him until he can.

"Internet is in uproar" ..... (2)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777836)

I dont see any uproar on internet in europe, middle east or asia over this. not to mention africa and south america. not even canada.

maybe is it that the supposed 'uproar' is in united states of america ? even that i havent seen any uproar in the communities with predominantly american population ?

or maybe the article poster is making up shit ?

Damned if you do, damned if you don't (2)

headhot (137860) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777884)

There is no way a school is going to make children read a book with the word nigger in it. Its too much trouble for the teachers, principles, and school board. They wouldn't touch that with a 10 foot pole. The public school system is not equipped to handle controversy.

Then again, censoring such eminent work from Twain is going to catch you some major heat too.

The lesser of the 2 evils I think is to run the book with the word n***r censored that way, so every on is placated, and the students can have a discussion about it.

Re:Damned if you do, damned if you don't (4, Insightful)

Brannoncyll (894648) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778230)

Then said children go home and listen to rap music on MTV or watch any TV show involving people from "the 'hood" and they'll easily find 219 uses of the word 'nigger', along with 'bitches', 'hoes', and a wide variety of other unsavoury phrases.

No better (5, Insightful)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777890)

The NYTimes [nytimes.com] has, of course, a lot of coverage on the topic, but many, including the editorial board, make the very strong point - how is this any better? Yes, as countless first posters try to show everyday, nigger is offensive, but nothing is such a blight on American history as the institution of slavery. This censorship wrongly conflates the word to be the problem, when really the problem is the hundreds of years of oppression, hatred, and violence that has and is aimed at blacks that the word represents. Some choice editing won't change the realities of the South in the mid-1800s, to think this fools anyone is a presumption of ignorance amongst teachers, parents, and children.

Re:No better (3, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778218)

> This censorship wrongly conflates the word to be the problem

That's the best argument I've heard yet. These people are targeting a word. Not the institution of slavery, not racism.

Twain used the word on purpose to sharpen his anti-racist message. Removing the word serves only to dull his attack.

This censorship is completely counter-productive.

Rap? (2, Interesting)

digsbo (1292334) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777920)

Does this mean that all rap music must also be purged of those words? Or only rap music presented in school music classes? At what level? Elementary, secondary, college?

Re:Rap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34778086)

We should go the other way - rewrite Huck FInn until all that is left is a rap song.

Two Words (1, Insightful)

ari_j (90255) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777924)

Fuck censorship. Also, fuck you, lazy parents who probably teach your children far more offensive beliefs, much less language, than they could possibly derive from reading the Great American Novel without butchering it. Replacing "injun" with "slave" doesn't even make sense.

Re:Two Words (1)

OS24Ever (245667) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778144)

how is Injun a racial slur? To me it's always more read as someone with an accent pronouncing it wrong. Was calling people an Injun instead of an Indian as bad as not referring to people niggers as african americans?

Serious question really, to me there are different levels of hatred between those two words. 'slave' isn't the right one either for Injun.

Re:Two Words (2)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778156)

Fuck censorship. Also, fuck you, lazy parents who probably teach your children far more offensive beliefs, much less language, than they could possibly derive from reading the Great American Novel without butchering it. Replacing "injun" with "slave" doesn't even make sense.

Nigger Jim will now be Slave Jim which will be changed to Black Jim and then to African American Jim
Injun Joe will be Indian Joe which will then get changed to Native American Joe

Spoiler Alert: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34777930)

Spoiler Alert: Bad things happened in the past!

Oh...we're not supposed to tell American schoolchildren about that stuff anymore. Little Johnny's parents might sue the school board because some god damn liberal teacher just felt it SO necessary to teach him about death and violence and corrupted his thought, just like those grand theft auto videogames they hear about on Fox News all the time.

new edition of Mein Kampf coming out, too (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777938)

with the word Klingons scattered all over it. near as I can figure out from an early look, it's all about getting The Master Watch (tm). ghostwriter, the "with" part, is Jagermeister. not worth buying.

Censorship for Parent & Child Safety? (1)

applematt84 (1135009) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777940)

This makes no sense?! Why change the works of a highly respected author just to satisfy the discomfort of a child or parent? Censorship should be left up to the parent, not the editor of a publishing company. Next thing you know, they'll be censoring history books so students don't really learn about Nazi's, concentration camps and WWII in High School because it's too depressing. Or they might just ban Anne Frank's diary because it's "too detailed". That's how it happened ... it's history ... we learn the gritty details, grow and move on. Oh, I know! Let's just shield our children so they can't grow and learn. Maybe history will repeat itself? ... I feel sick.

Copyrights... (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777960)

Like it or not, this is one of the reasons why copyright is not entirely a bad thing. Shit like this can only happen because the work is out of copyright. Would it still be protected, the author's estate could sue the hypocritical fuckers' arses from here to Alpha Centauri.

Mark Twain (1)

Ziest (143204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777966)

I think that if Mark Twain were alive today he would be very pleased that one of his works is upsetting people so much that they want to ban and/or censor it.

One of my rules of thumb is if there is a book that people want to ban and/or censor I run right out and buy and read it.

Miss the point more? (4, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777970)

This is frankly fairly shocking - shocking that people would want to remove an offensive word from a book who's intent was to diminish that word's power. Just goes to show how scared and cowardly the Western world has become, when a single word can scare us so much that we must hide it from ourselves. I honestly wonder what future generations will look like after parents have worked so hard to make their kids softer and naiver than the generation that proceeded it. How long until the witch hunts begin, and we start removing undesirable thoughts/people/etc?

What? (2)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777972)

An Alabama publisher named NewSouth Books will be editing and censoring the book so that schools and parents might provide their children the ability to study the classic without fear of properly addressing the torturous history of racism and slavery in The United States of America.

I thought that was part of the point. Oh, well, we need to protect the children from words that they are not even obligated to get offended by (it could turn them into racists, after all)! Why don't we just lock all children in some sort of bubble forever and get it over with?

what is the right word (0)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 3 years ago | (#34777984)

since the meaning of words changes dramatically over time, perhaps the word "nigger" circa 1880 is equivalent to the word "slave" 2010
Personally, I think it is more important to teach children to understand that the past, while not even over, is different, and that (unlike the GOP, which is a cargo cult looking to restore some golden age) interpreting the past, or a text, requires judgement and skill, and that reasonable people can have differences.

Re:what is the right word (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778188)

Has Kentucky taught us nothing? Curriculum is based on politics, not science, history, mathematics, or literature.

1984, meet 2011 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34778000)

Wow. What a world.

How is it that we can look back on our history like this and completely ignore it? We're seeing repercussions from the period of history from which Twain wrote all the way down to the present day. This is the kind of thing that fuels division on both sides of race issues -- whites saying nothing's wrong, African-Americans saying everything is wrong. We can't understand where we are today in race relations without a full understanding of the time period when slave ownership was commonplace. Excising what are racial slurs today without considering the historical context in which the book was made is completely cheapening the experience -- and really removes much of the point of the book. Despite Huck's calling Jim a "nigger" over and over again, he becomes his friend through the course of the book. At the time, saying anything different would have been odd. Changing the language of the book is removing any questions that kids might ask about that history.

Besides which, this offends me as a linguaphile on the same level as "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies". Classics are called classics because they've stood the test of time -- the way they ARE. They should be read in the original intent and in the context of their historical period, not updated to the present day.

Anyone get shades of the Ministry of Truth from this?

I'll make you a deal (1)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778024)

I'm fine with that as long as the book opens with a brief preface serving as a linguistic history lesson, explaining specifically what's been changed, and why terms that used to be okay are now generally frowned upon. I think that would be more educational than simply republishing a book full of racial slurs that are widely considered inappropriate these days.

A plus and a minus (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778038)

I think schools are where they should leave the book unchanged. To steal a phrase: Teach the controversy.

On the other hand, it dawned on me that I would be much more comfortable reading the unedited book to myself than to read it to my preschoolers. There are just some words and phrases I don't use, much less want them mixing into their usual dialogue of boogers and farts. But it's a good enough story that maybe the edited version should get read to them at an early age. Yeah, I could skip the words myself, but they are getting to a point where they are following along.

And as an added bonus, adding a taboo is going to make kids curious. Good. I have no trouble telling my kids there is a version they can read when they get older and we can talk about. Preferably in school, but I'll happily take them to the library if they ask.

It's just an opinion, and fluid at that.

This why we need fight app stores and more as (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778040)

This why we need fight app stores and more as more of this may start happening and if store lock in makes hard to get the uncensored vers.

Re:This why we need fight app stores and more as (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34778170)

what the fuck

"Injun" is to be replaced with "Indian" AFAIK (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778046)

All the articles I've read about this say that "Injun" is to be replaced with "Indian". I can't see any article supporting summary's claims of "injun" changing to "slave".

While that doesn't really change the issue of censorship it would be nice to have just a little accuracy in reporting. I know, I know; I must be new here, etc.

Marketing campaign (4, Funny)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778050)

Let all those kids know the book is in the public domain and they can legally download the original version with the bad words and sex scenes in it.

In case you're wondering, mentioning the sex scenes is to make sure they'll actually read the book.

Biggest problem (2)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778088)

My biggest problem with this is that removal of the word from the English language will not stop people from thinking the exact same thoughts. The word is a -symptom-, not a cause. As such, this is a pointless exercise that only costs money and provides no benefit for anyone.

What's next? (1)

edawstwin (242027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778090)

Are we going to remove the n-word from Blazing Saddles?

"Isn't it a lovely morning?"
"Up yours, my good African-American friend!"

Re:What's next? (1)

cemaco (665884) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778240)

Wonder if anyone has explained to this bunch that by those standards the bible would need a major rewrite.

i'm just impressed we're still talking about twain (4, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778150)

do you know he's currently on the ny times best seller list?

http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/overview.html [nytimes.com]

how'd he do that? he wrote a book, said "wait 100 years before publishing", and they did, and here he is, selling a new book, in 2011

quite an impressive man

and did you know about twain and halley's comet?

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_connection_between_Mark_twain_and_Halley's_comet [answers.com]

It is believed that Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clemens) was born the same month as the passing of Halley's comet in November 1835. Halley's Comet passed on November 10th 1835 and Twain was born November 30th 1835. Twain vowed he would "go out"with the passing of the comet, as it passes in 75 year cycles. Halley's comet passed again April 20th 1910, Twain passed April 21st 1910.

mark twain: space alien who travels via halley's comet

This should be done to all clbuttic literature (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34778166)

With the rise of eBooks, we should be able to do this automatically to all clbuttic literature.

Anyone who butterts that this is a violation of our consbreastutional rights is overreacting.

better than Fox News (-1, Troll)

tekrat (242117) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778200)

Who would have changed the N-word to "Muslim".
Or whatever moniker they've assigned to Obama this week.
Maybe they'd have just changed it to "Democrat".

I can't believe I'm writing this...:) (2)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778204)

But this is the only good argument for perpetual copyright I've seen in a while.

If you can change 'objectionable' words at your whim and re-publish the work of an author as if it were the 'original', well, you can't know what the hell anyone ever wrote unless you kept a copy.

I'm not at all interested in reading Mark Twain censored. Next thing you know, they start in some really offensive authors, and we have nothing to rely on.

Sounds like something the high-school textbook publishers would do. Stupid. So much for literary integrity. Another publisher I can regard with a jaundiced eye.

Indian, not slave, for "injun". (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778216)

The NY Times article, Publisher Tinkers With Twain [nytimes.com], reports that "Indian" is substituted for "injun". Still, it's unwarranted revisionist tinkering. Schools shouldn't fear teaching, and students need to learn, history and literature as it was, not how we'd like it to have been.

Er... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778238)

parents might provide their children the ability to study the classic without fear of properly addressing the torturous history of racism and slavery in The United States of America.

How does replacing it with the word "SLAVE" accomplish *that* exactly?

Or am I looking for reason where reason does not exist?

Newspeak comes to mind. (1)

commodore73 (967172) | more than 3 years ago | (#34778268)

Seems like an early step in rewriting history. I seem to remember Nostradomus or someone predicting that in the end times, everything will offend someone. Political "correctness" seems to fit the bill.
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