"...Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn, in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the "n" word (as well as the "in" word, "Injun") by replacing it with the word "slave."
"This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind," said Gribben, speaking from his office at Auburn University at Montgomery, where he's spent most of the past 20 years heading the English department. "Race matters in these books. It's a matter of how you express that in the 21st century."
This is the most idiotic thing I've ever heard. Are we now going to go back and rewrite every classic text in which there is some term that offends some group? Talk about political correctness gone amok! A commenter at Joe.My.God said:
Hey, if this works out, they could do a little cleanup on Anne Frank's diary. Like make the whole thing a big understanding about the Nazis rounding up "juice" instead of "jews" and everybody laughs at the crazy mixup. Zany hijinks ensue from there.
I couldn't agree more. How about Gone With The Wind? Can we clean that one up, too?
I've been teaching To Kill a Mockingbird for eleven years. Each time, before we read, we have the discussion about the language. I explain to students the context of the word, the setting of the novel, and they learn that Atticus finds the term offensive:
"Don't say nigger Scout. That's common." (Chapter 9).
Scout learns that Atticus views racism and prejudice as a "disease" that takes over normally clear headed people.
There's a context.
If you go back and start censoring the language in classic novels you'll remove certain potential for critical thinking from our curriculum. Just tell the kids what to think; don't let them figure anything out for themselves! Let's clean up Shakespeare while we're at it; it's certainly bawdy enough. Is that the next target?
Until we clean up the degrading and offensive language in hip-hop, I don't think there's a leg to stand on here.