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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Saturday, January 08, 2011

On the bowdlerization of Huckleberry Finn

"I'm always rather nervous about how you talk about women who are active in politics, whether they want to be talked about as women or as politicians" - JFK on the problems of Identity Politics

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Huckleberry Finn loses the 'nigger' he loves, thanks to a publisher's ethnic cleansing

"Jew is far more pejorative in the mouths of Shakespeare’s characters than nigger is in the mouths of some of Mark Twain’s...

Striking out the word nigger every time it appears in Huckleberry Finn is a kind of ethnic cleansing, a pretence that in the land of the free no one referred to black people by a demeaning term once the Civil War had been won.

Worse, it is to confuse a word with a system of thought"

The bowdlerization is supposedly because many schools cannot teach the book because of that one word because people find it too "painful".

MFTTW: it's like saying thy can't teach about lynchings and the KKK?
cos it might be too painful?

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New ‘Huckleberry Finn’ Edition Does Disservice to a Classic

"Never mind that today nigger is used by many rappers, who have reclaimed the word from its ugly past. Never mind that attaching the epithet slave to the character Jim — who has run away in a bid for freedom — effectively labels him as property, as the very thing he is trying to escape...

Just before Barack Obama’s inauguration, a high school teacher named John Foley wrote a guest column in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer in which he asserted that “Huckleberry Finn,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Of Mice and Men,” don’t belong on the curriculum anymore. “The time has arrived to update the literature we use in high school classrooms,” he wrote. “Barack Obama is president-elect of the United States, and novels that use the ‘N-word’ repeatedly need to go”...

[This] ratifies the narcissistic contemporary belief that art should be inoffensive and accessible; that books, plays and poetry from other times and places should somehow be made to conform to today’s democratic idea...

Tampering with a writer’s words underscores both editors’ extraordinary hubris and a cavalier attitude embraced by more and more people in this day of mash-ups, sampling and digital books — the attitude that all texts are fungible, that readers are entitled to alter as they please, that the very idea of authorship is old-fashioned...

Sometimes the urge to expurgate (if not outright ban) comes from the right, evangelicals and conservatives, worried about blasphemy, profane language and sexual innuendo. Fundamentalist groups, for instance, have tried to have dictionaries banned because of definitions offered for words like hot, tail, ball and nuts.

In other cases the drive to sanitize comes from the left, eager to impose its own multicultural, feminist worldviews and worried about offending religious or ethnic groups. Michael Radford’s 2004 film version of “The Merchant of Venice” (starring Al Pacino) revised the play to elide potentially offensive material, serving up a nicer, more sympathetic Shylock and blunting tough questions about anti-Semitism. More absurdly, a British theater company in 2002 changed the title of its production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” to “The Bellringer of Notre Dame”...

Euphemisms are sometimes pushed on writers by their publishers. Rinehart & Company persuaded Norman Mailer to use “fug” in his 1948 novel “The Naked and the Dead” instead of the F-word. Mailer later said the incident caused him “great embarrassment” because Tallulah Bankhead’s press agent supposedly planted a story in the papers that went, “Oh, hello, you’re Norman Mailer. You’re the young man that doesn’t know how to spell”...

But while James V. O’Connor, author of the book “Cuss Control,” argues that people can and should find word substitutions, even his own Web site grants Rhett Butler a “poetic license” exemption in “Gone With the Wind.” “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a hoot”? Now that’s damnable"


Also, NMA has a great video of this story.

The more to the left you go, the closer to the right you come - and vice versa.

More broadly, the psychic "harm" that people suffer when the word "nigger" is used is like the psychic "harm" that other people suffer when they are exposed to homosexuality.
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