Get That Nigger Out of There!

Oh Yeah!  Twitter has been all-abuzz today and for a very good reason.

It seems new copies of Huckleberry Finn will eliminate the word “nigger” from its editions in order to be less offensive.  What. The. Fuck.

Now that I find offensive!

Changing “nigger” to “slave” is about as historically accurate and intelligent as saying that thousands of blacks fought for the Confederacy. In case you are confused, yes, thousand of blacks did fight for the Confederacy, and now you understand while historically accurate, how completely misguided that was.

I read Huckleberry Finn as a pre-teen and even at that age I understood, that the writing was a reflection of the mindset of what was acceptable of that period.  If I could figure that out at ten, do the publishers of this revised nonsense, think current readers will not be smart enough to get it?  Or that the teachers intelligent enough to trust their charges with such material will not be able to discuss why such a word was allowed to exist in the first place with them? If a student is uncomfortable saying the word out loud in class, that’s one thing, removal of the word all together hurts the learning experience.

Is the word despicable? Yes, it is.  It is necessary to keep it in the book? Yes, it is.  Never mind that by trying to remove the word nigger from a classic piece of literature as though it has never existed, you give it the very power and offense you think you’re trying to take away. You defeat the point of why it was in the novel in the first place.  Mark Twain was one of the pioneers in the use of local vernacular in literature. He was trying to give an account of the language and culture of the people of the time of the novel. Revising the book does not change the culture known to have existed then regarding Blacks. And please note, I did not say African-Americans, a term some (arguably) claim is revisionist in itself, (nigger/negro > colored > blacks > African-American), but that’s another argument.

So thank you publishers! Thank you for not even giving us the chance to think it out for ourselves. After all these years the book has existed, we’re obviously much too stupid to be trusted to understand such now. Because yes, my life will be so drastically uplifted now that “N” word will be removed.  Oh but damn, wait, I read the book in its original text, I know the word is in there whatever am I to do? Can the publishers come and remove all traces of it from my mind as well?

While you’re at it publishers, let’s just grab all the books everywhere and wipe out all the niggers we see. Hell, let us just re-write American history all together.  Turn us all into that asshat faction that wanted to convince the world that the Holocaust never existed.  Anne Frank was fictional character made up to gather sympathy to the gullible. You can say – oh, I don’t know – slavery here in the New World was just a a precursor to the modern-day scam those Nigerians are notorious for even to this day.  The Civil War was just a tiff among the household domestic that got a little out of hand.

I suppose all the Ebonics will be revised next, wouldn’t want people to think the niggers -er- slaves had no command of proper English while out in the fields or in the Big House.

* Rolls eyes  and pulls out a copy of The Catcher in the Rye*

6 thoughts on “Get That Nigger Out of There!

  1. HBO is coming after Chris Rock next……..

    I know you’re also well aware that not every black person in America during that time was a slave, so to make that generalization by the publisher is an assumption that is equally racist.

    • I agree that it could be taken as a racist assumption on behalf of the publishers. However, taken strictly in the context of the novel in question it is (begrudgingly) fitting.

  2. A friend of mine wrote and posted this on a website we both contribute to – I think you’ll like it quite a bit: http://booksontheradio.ca/2011/01/04/whitewashing-the-past-doesnt-erase-slavery/

    Again, excellent post, Rai. This idiocy is right up there with an Ontario school board’s decision to ban To Kill a Mockingbird because ONE parent was uncomfortable with their teenage child reading a word they’ve likely heard dozens or hundreds of times in their life from all forms of media. Because apparently it’s much better to be totally fucking ignorant of the past and hope it just goes away, like a bad fart no one wants to own up to.

    Seems that the more “PC” we get, the less mature we are.

    • Thanks for the link, I’ll have to check it out.
      “The Catcher in the Rye” faced similar issues as “To Kill a Mockingbird” when it was first published. The use of the word fuck by the Holden was a point of contention at the time. How true can we be to our (written) character when the character, the subject or the story itself is going to touch on something “uncomfortable”? It’s the quandary of any writer desiring to tell a “real” story.

      Love the fart analogy.

  3. Since about 1950, the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and others have removed the word from productions of “Princess Ida” and “The Mikado”.

    But arguments could be made both ways. Doesn’t retaining the word only serve to perpetuate its use among those too stupid or prejudiced to realize that it is only reflecting the speech and attitudes of the time of writing? I’ve seen some references to Jews in older literature that could well stand to be expunged.

    • In the cases of those operas the removal of the word did not change over all dialect and tone of the story being told.

      “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” was intentionally written to be snapshot of the culture of that time. Jim is an integral part of the story and that is how blacks were referred by many back then. In this case, changing how the character was spoken to/about changes the truth of the tone.

      “Doesn’t retaining the word only serve to perpetuate its use among those too stupid or prejudiced to realize that it is only reflecting the speech and attitudes of the time of writing?” True enough point, but I counter it with this: We have been “politically corrected” up the wazoo for the past couple of decades now. Has the cultivating of such a behavior, at least in print, stopped any of those too stupid or prejudiced from being just that? Would going through and removing words that offend from every historical document known to man change that? Having the knowledge of the word is not what makes a person stupid or prejudiced. Knowing a word is hateful and choosing to continue to use in a manner that is hateful is.

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