Censorship or Sensibility?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by B_VinylBoy, Jan 4, 2011.

  1. B_VinylBoy

    B_VinylBoy New Member

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    A very interesting story coming across the desks of MSNBC.
    A censored version of the book "Huckleberry Finn" from Mark Twain is about to hit shelves in about a month. This classic has been banned from school libraries for its use of the N-Word. This new version of the book will take out the N-Word and replace it with the word "slave", hopefully making the book more friendly for school shelves.

    The question: Do you think it's necessary? I'm probably going to shock a few people with my answer, but I personally don't think the book should be changed, and the fact that the book is still censored from high school libraries is a bad thing. We can't act as if children are not exposed to this word in the real world. In many ways, the classroom (along with a responsible teacher) can provide an ideal stage to discuss with children the origin of the word, explain the context used by the author, look back at the way certain controversial words were handled in society and the past and explain why many people consider the word to be not the most ideal way to express oneself in the modern day.

    Besides, when the book was first published schools banned it because they hated the fact that Mark Twain portrayed the slave as being too human. Kinda ironic that it's still banned now for a completely different reason. Your thoughts.
     
  2. SilverTrain

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    I'm with you.

    Excise all the unpleasant aspects of human nature and render literature completely uninvolving, not to mention completely unrealistic.

     
  3. rob_just_rob

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    I find it ironic that we're having a discussion about a book being banned for the use of the word "nigger", on a forum that bans people for the use of the same word, regardless of the intent behind its use.

    (And now I'll probably get banned. :rolleyes: )

    Anyway, it's ridiculous. Huckleberry Finn was a commentary on the times that Twain lived in. To censor it defeats the author's purpose. You might as well put a skirt on Raphael's nudes, or change the ending of the Communist Manifesto.
     
  4. B_crackoff

    B_crackoff New Member

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    I remember my Grandfather reading me that book, & I can't even remember any derogatory terms, though I would never have encountered any of them before to know that they were derogatory.

    Anyone who censors books or art is a totalitarian twat, or a self appointed nanny at best.

    From fig leaves on nude statues, to book burning, to cigarettes being airbrushed, & guns pixellated - all works should be left as they were meant to be. Historical explanations might be required, but that's about it.

    It's difficult enough to wade through the language & grammar of bygone years, but ultimately, all that helps transport the readers imagination to the time in which it was written.
     
  5. JackWyatt76

    JackWyatt76 New Member

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    I don't think the book should be censored. I don't like the N-word, but that's how the book was written
     
  6. TomCat84

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    I'm generally against censoring historical works of art- whether they be sculptures, paintings, or literature.
     
  7. maxcok

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    I had no idea Huckleberry Finn had been banned from school libraries. This is surreal and very disturbing. I am vehemently opposed to all book bannings, as well as censorship in most any form, in most any arena, especially regarding works of art and literature. Not only should the book not be altered, it's indispensible reading and needs to be taught as part of a mandatory school curriculum - in its original form, in exactly the context the OP so eloquently expressed.

    I started my own anti-censorship campaign back in my highschool days. I thought when John Ashcroft hung drapes over Lady Justice's breasts it was an absurd 'moral majority' anomaly, and we had since regained a sense of normalcy. To ban Mark Twain while our young people are bombarded with the most sexual, hateful and violent media content from every direction is the height of insanity. This country has regressed in ways I never thought I'd see in my lifetime. I feel more and more like I'm living in a nightmare America.
     
  8. B_VinylBoy

    B_VinylBoy New Member

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    I have to see if I can find the quote online, but Mark Twain made a comment that showed the hypocrisy of his dissenters by pointing out how the same people who wanted to ban his book back when it was new also pushed for more Bibles to be placed in school libraries at the same time. It kinda makes you wonder what these people thought was more important to teach the masses - the literary portrayal of a slave in a children's book, or the "holy word" despite all of the violent & destructive references held within it?

    On a side note but somewhat related, there is another book I read in High School through a college Upward Bound program called "A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich" by Alice Childress. source

    The book is definitely aimed at a young adult audience, but most school libraries would never shelve it due to it's plot about a 13 year old child who gets addicted to heroin in a poor, urban neighborhood. It's a major loss because it's not like kids don't learn about or get exposed to drugs at these young ages... and just like "Huckleberry Finn", in the proper environment it can become a major learning tool.
     
  9. noirman

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    Bowdler sanitized Shakespeare in the early nineteenth century, and his abomination enjoyed a degree of popularity in its day. I once wondered how any culture could support the idea that censorship is acceptable. Now I know. Censorship of ANY literature, whether it be Henry Miller or Shakespeare or Twain or D.H. Lawrence or Jerry Falwell, is immoral. If someone does not want to be exposed to such lewd or "dangerous" thinking, no one is forcing him to read the book. In public schools, parents have the right to excuse their children from reading literature they deem inappropriate. In this era of political correctness, we all lean over backward -- sometimes too far -- to prevent offending the sensibilities of our holier than thou brethren.The whole concept of "family values" and moral imperatives makes me want to yak. It is essential to the existence of a true republic to allow freedom of expression.
     
    #9 noirman, Jan 5, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2011
  10. houtx48

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    What's the uproar about? It's not like more than 20 kids will read it. The world is a 30 second sound byte.
     
  11. midlifebear

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    Those Bowlderized versions of Shakespeare still exist and are widely read by students in school districts in such states as Utah, and used as "original" texts for literature classes and performances at universities such a Brigham Young, Southern Methodist, Oral Roberts University, etc.

    Huck Finn has been, most likely, the most often banned book in the United States. It almost always makes it on the "we're so politically correct or uberchristianists" that it appears on their fabulous lists every year. Fortunately, most librarians in the USA are anti censorship to the point that they'e happily allowed their cities to fire them only to turn the tables and sue the shit out of those city councils. And fortunately, most of those librarians have won in court either financially or got their jobs back.

    You can thank the Eagle Forum for ensuring Huck Finn will always be on a national banned book list.
     
    #11 midlifebear, Jan 5, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2011
  12. Bbucko

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    Surprise! The first thing I thought when I read this story were those loincloths painted onto the Sistine Chapel and Ashcroft's draped statues.

    Great minds and all that...
     
  13. JTalbain

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    So erasing the negative historical context because they don't want to offend anyone now. Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

    Let's see, other books which have been banned for stupid reasons. The Catcher in the Rye was thought to be some sort of secret Communist codebook or something. The Little Mermaid was banned for having a picture of a topless mermaid (which guaranteed that more teenage boys sought it out). Flowers for Algernon (one of the best books I've ever read) was banned for portraying a mentally retarded character and having awkward adult situations.

    I think this has got to be the most ridiculous censorship ever though: Conservative Bible - Conservapedia. I know exactly how it came about too. Religious right wingers were spouting their beliefs, then went back home to actually read the Bible they were beating and said, "Shit. Jesus was a Socialist. That's inconvenient." I think it's stupid when people try to enforce their religious beliefs on thers in a country with religious freedom, but it's kind of scary when they're willing to change their religious message to mirror their party line. Which altar do they truly worship at?
     
  14. Speculator

    Speculator New Member

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    I'm glad VB is talking sense for a change, all my hard work is clearly paying dividends.

    In six months' time he'll be demanding a small state society based on the rules of capitalism.
     
  15. NumberTwentySix

    NumberTwentySix New Member

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    VB you are on the ball here. Censorship of any type is abhorrent. I say that if you can't handle it, don't read it. Don't tell others they can't make the decision for themselves. A bowdlerized Mark Twain is a Mark Twain unworthy of reading. Who the hell is "slave Jim"?

    Interestingly, there are cases where changing the words to fit more modern sensibilities makes sense and doesn't detract from the work. Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None," went through several titles over the years, including "Ten Little Niggers", later changed to "Ten little Indians" before finally settling on the modern title, which suits the essence of the story without being needlessly vulgar.

    Books that are banned are the first ones you should read. (though Salman Rushdie's sucks)
     
    #15 NumberTwentySix, Jan 6, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011
  16. maxcok

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    Scrubbing problematic and offensive words from the language only gives them more power.

    I think you're wrong. A teachable moment is being lost here. Since the book has become such a lightning rod, teachers, school administrators and school boards will take the easy path of least resistance, replacing the original with the "sanitized" version to avoid controversy. I fear before long it will become the standard, and then what's next? It's a slippery slope.

    One of the 'revisionists' was interviewed by Neal Conan on NPR's Talk of the Nation today. The guy is rather defensive and just doesn't get the objections, a complete jackass, imho. Audio and transcript here:

     
    #16 maxcok, Jan 6, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011
  17. B_jeepguy2

    B_jeepguy2 New Member

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    I honestly can't figure out why the word "nigger" is such a big deal to so many people. It is nothing but a corruption of the latin word "niger" which means black.
     
    #17 B_jeepguy2, Jan 6, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011
  18. JackWyatt76

    JackWyatt76 New Member

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    houtx48,

    It's basically re-writing history under the pretext of political correctness
     
  19. B_VinylBoy

    B_VinylBoy New Member

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    Really? I mean, really... you somehow "don't know" even though there's a long, documented history of how the word has been used as a derogatory term to oppress people for centuries? :rolleyes:

    I'm not for censorship and as I stated in my OP I don't think it should be taken out of Huckleberry Finn. There's a major opportunity to teach children about certain societal norms that were blindly accepted in the past that many have grown to understand is not acceptable behavior now. Just trying to hide, or essentially bury these things in the name of political correctness doesn't help anyone. They need to be confronted in the right environment and discussed honestly. And I honestly doubt any person who is a frequent contributor to a message board about big dicks is oblivious to why some people think the N-word is such a big deal. So let's not go there, nor carelessly use this thread as a "safe zone" to type it without reprimand.
     
  20. D_Harvey Schmeckel

    D_Harvey Schmeckel New Member

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    What make things worse is that substituting "slave" confuses matters considerably. There was a very large population of free people of color in border states (50% of black Marylanders in 1860.) Because slave status followed the status of the mother, a person could be legally white and still be a slave-- e.g. the children of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings under Virginia law. Twain was trying to make a point about racism, still a hugely destructive factor in American life in the post-Civil War era when he wrote, not just about slavery.
     
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