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Friday, January 7, 2011

Please don't change anything I write after I die.

So they're taking the word "nigger" out of Huck Finn, or at least one particular edition of it. The novel uses the word 219 times, mainly as part of Nigger Jim's name, and it's being replaced with "slave". This is stupid for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that fact that Jim is not a slave.

Obviously it's an ugly word with a vicious history, but cutting it out of one of the landmark anti-racism books in US history seems pretty fahking stupid. It seems to me that only by acknowledging our own wretched history as a nation can we begin to make stumbling progress past it.

The claim is that this is being done so young readers are not exposed to the word. My thought is that this book was not written for young readers, and maybe it isn't the book that should be changed, but the seventh-grade lesson plans that are trying to incorporate it.

I wonder if Flannery O'Connor's short story "The Artificial Nigger" will be next.

A lively debate on the issue, with a few dissenting voices but mainly criticism of the move, can be found here:

I wonder what you all think...

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