"That Guy That I Hang Out With Who Used to Be a Slave" Jim


Thanks to the intervention of one Dr. Alan Gribben, American kids will no longer be racist after reading Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and timorous teachers will now feel comfortable assigning a book that once featured 219 instances (according to Gribben) of the word "nigger." Gribben's new edition of Huckleberry Finn will excise all those bits that make people feel uncomfortable—because good literature never, ever makes people feel uncomfortable.

From the AP:

Mark Twain wrote that "the difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter." A new edition of "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "Tom Sawyer" will try to find out if that holds true by replacing the N-word with "slave" in an effort not to offend readers.

Twain scholar Alan Gribben, who is working with NewSouth Books in Alabama to publish a combined volume of the books, said the N-word appears 219 times in "Huck Finn" and four times in "Tom Sawyer." He said the word puts the books in danger of joining the list of literary classics that Twain once humorously defined as those "which people praise and don't read."

"It's such a shame that one word should be a barrier between a marvelous reading experience and a lot of readers," Gribben said.

Yet Twain was particular about his words. His letter in 1888 about the right word and the almost right one was "the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning."

Don't read Evelyn Waugh's Scoop or Black Mischief (colonialist and racist); toss the reactionary and sexist Kingsley Amis on to the fire (probably shouldn't read Girl-20; definitely shouldn't read Stanley and the Women); and simply pulp the entire back catalog of George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman series, which manages to offend every minority group, every country, every-not-an-Englishman on virtually every page.

In the comments section, please feel free suggest other books that should be rewritten by Dr. Gribben (who should not be confused with Dr. Crippen, who apparently liked Huck Finn just the way he was). And here is a sample of NewSouth Publishing's exceedingly dumb defense of the Twain desecration: 

In a bold move compassionately advocated by Twain scholar Dr. Alan Gribben and embraced by NewSouth,Mark Twain's Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn also replaces two hurtful epithets that appear hundreds of times in the texts with less offensive words, this intended to counter the "preemptive censorship" that Dr. Gribben observes has caused these important works of literature to fall off curriculum lists nationwide. 

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  1. Alan Gribben appears 219 times in sheep.

    1. Speaking of sheep: http://www.stuff.co.nz/nationa…..kids-prize

      1. It’s the Lovin’ Lamb! You’d think it would be embraced in New Zealand.

  2. Alan Gribben has replaced Winston Smith’s buddy, Syme.

  3. I recommend the timeless classic “Adventures of Fuckhead Douchenozzle Alan Gribben.”

    1. Speaking of rubes.

  4. Not that literature matters as much as it used to, but why desecrate what’s probably America’s biggest contribution to world literature?

    Twain breaking the rules to convey Southern speech really set the machinery that became modern literature in motion…

    On the other hand, is this so different from leaving that sort of thing out of a movie? If Disney leaves the “n-word” out of a Huckleberry Finn production, is that an atrocity?

    I guess the difference is that when Disney makes a sanitized production of something, it doesn’t try to pass it off as the real thing.

    It doesn’t surprise me that Generation Veal can’t handle anything that might make them upset though–that’s what makes them Generation Veal. They bruise really easy, don’t they?

  5. I eagerly await the newly, digitally remastered reissue of Richard Pryor’s watershed comedy album, “That Slave’s Crazy.”

  6. So let me get this straight. They’re striking a blow against “preemptive censorship” by censoring the books preemptively? Gribben, you genius! From now on, I’m hiring you to solve all my problems.

    Next assignment: find a way to make The Vagina Ass of Lucifer Niggerbastard free of these horrible discomforting words.

    1. The idea is to sacrifice one word to keep the entire rest of the book from being kept away from readers.

      I’m not going to start calling fag bashing gay bashing, though.

      1. but why did he change the word to “slave” and not to “black”?

        1. Probably because having a character named Black Jim would be just as offensive… and it would seem even more out of character to be calling him Afro-American Jim.

          1. What about “Jim, Who Happens to be Black”?

            Or “Jim, of African Descent”?

            Or “Jim, the Burly Man with Kinky Hair and Dark Brown Skin, who Previously was Forced to Work in the Fields for no Pay and was Owned as Chattel by a Rich White Bastard”?

          2. But not all blacks were slaves, even at the time.

    2. Not for nothing, but The Vagina Ass of Lucifer Niggerbastard would be a great name for a rock album. It could be a black metal opera.

  7. Of all people you would think us libertarians would not mind someone like this doing such a thing. It would be one thing if the legislature required such an act, but someone should be free to try to make a dime. As a parent or a reader, you are free to choose whichever version you wish.

    He’s giving the consumer options for christ sake!

    1. Of all people you would think us libertarians would not mind someone like this doing such a thing. It would be one thing if the legislature required such an act, but someone should be free to try to make a dime. As a parent or a reader, you are free to choose whichever version you wish.

      He’s giving the consumer options for christ sake!

      True, but it doesn’t make it any less risible.

    2. Pretty much what I was thinking. Plus, aren’t Twain’s books public domain? I mean, you can still buy the niggerified version from some other publisher, right?

      1. Yep, here it is, in all it’s nigger-tastic glory.


        1. And you’re also free to miss the fact that the main point of the book is Huck realizing that Jim isn’t a “nigger”, Jim is not a thing, he’s a real human being with as much worth and dignity as Huck himself possesses.

          See if that point hits home without the insults and degradation that Twain described.

          1. I won’t be so bold as to try to sum up the book myself, but I will say that Jim is the only consistently sympathetic character in the book.

            1. You’re right – I corrected myself below to say that’s the main point that I took from it.

            2. It’s been quite a while since I read it, but I seem to recall Jim being the only character in the book who isn’t a complete and total moron.

      2. Can I get other books niggerfied? I always wanted to read “Origin of the Species” as if finches on the Galapagos islands were oppressed minorities.

    3. He most certainly has a right to sell it, and we have the right to think it’s a half-assed bowdlerization. It is good to have the choice, though, and I hope that some schools take advantage of it. Still, it’s a good market solution to an administrative (and cultural!) problem, namely, that schools don’t feel comfortable exposing students to racist, sexist, or homophobic cultures. Given how humanity works, that leaves the poor kids reading sterile drivel from the last 25 years, with the occasional grand exception or newly sterilized classic. The reason this revised Huck Finn is important is that instead of rolling back the social engineering experiment where we keep kids from being exposed to horrid ideas, we expand the experiment to include literature. Some schools aren’t going to stop until they have a serene literary ghetto with no pests conveying confusing or contradictory truths, like a Baptist school library but possibly even more smug.

    4. I take it Tony will be protesting at the school board or public library meeting that decides to place this bowdlerization travesty on the taxpayer funded shelves.

      Twain’s work is all in the public domain and folks can do as they wish with it. It does not follow that people who love and respect literature are prohibited from calling PC dumbassery PC dumbassery.

      Are Faulkner’s works next?

    5. “He’s giving the consumer options for christ sake!”

      I thought this was for school reading lists?

  8. I’d like to see him film a remake of Eddie Murphy’s Delirious.

  9. So we go from offending Black people to Slavs (no, that’s not a typo.).

    SWA (Slavs With Attitude)

    1. Slav, please!

  10. I think some of those Shakespeare plays need rewriting.

    All that stuff about race in “Othello” or sex roles in “The Taming of the Shrew” might make people uncomfortable.

    And that’s not to mention all the grisly violence in “Titus Andronicus” or the sex jokes in pretty much every play the Bard ever wrote.

    Gribben needs to revise these plays so no one ever gets offended.

    Oh, wait: that was already done by Bowdler a century ago. Guess the Victorians had something right after all.

  11. Melville’s Moby Dick could definitely be re-written to do away with the misunderstanding of and cruelty to whales.

    1. They rewrote it all right, but not for PC.

      The film takes place in the modern day, and follows Dr. Michelle Herman (Ren?e O’Connor) and her assistant Loanna Davis (Aisha Tyler), who have recently joined a submarine – the USS Pequod – commanded by Captain Ahab (Barry Bostwick), who is on an obsessive hunt throughout the seas for a giant whale.

      Herman becomes anxious as Ahab’s insanity worsens throughout the voyage, and crescendos as the submarine finally crosses paths with the giant whale.


    2. I’m on it. Also, it’s now titled Moby Penis.

  12. Bowdlerizing the book is absurd and disgraceful, but I have more of a problem with the fascist do-gooders who have made it necessary (no – seem necessary) than with the professor who did it. No one is intolerant like the tolerant class.

    Fun fact: the string “nigger Jim” appears precisely once in the text: when Huck is writing a letter to Miss Watson giving up the location of her runaway nigger, Jim. “Nigger Jim” is never his name. I wonder where that originated.

    Here’s the passage. It encapsulates the point of the book quite nicely, I think.

    So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didn’t know what to do.
    At last I had an idea; and I says, I’ll go and write the letter–and then
    see if I can pray. Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as light as a
    feather right straight off, and my troubles all gone. So I got a piece
    of paper and a pencil, all glad and excited, and set down and wrote:

    Miss Watson, your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below
    Pikesville, and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the
    reward if you send.


    I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever
    felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn’t do it
    straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking–thinking
    how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost
    and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our
    trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the time: in the day
    and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we
    a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing. But somehow I
    couldn’t seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the
    other kind. I’d see him standing my watch on top of his’n, ‘stead of
    calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I
    come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp, up
    there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me
    honey, and pet me and do everything he could think of for me, and how
    good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling
    the men we had small-pox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was
    the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the ONLY one he’s got
    now; and then I happened to look around and see that paper.

    It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was
    a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and
    I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then
    says to myself:

    “All right, then, I’ll GO to hell”–and tore it up.

    1. Yo, Warty! So Huckleberry Finn is your favorite novel too! Cool!

        1. Ha, ha, ha! You probably like “The Sound and the Fury” too! Admit it! All together now: “Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.”

          1. I never read Faulkner. I guess I should fix that, but enh.

            You probably like Steinbeck, don’t you, you degenerate?

            1. Nobody like Steinbeck.


                Without the s I think that gives a different meaning.

              2. Fugging Steinbeck

            2. No, I don’t like Steinbeck, although “The Grapes of Wrath” isn’t entirely hoky. Don’t start with TS&TF;. Try “As I Lay Dying” or “Light in August” or “The Hamlet” or “Go Down, Moses.” Or “The Bear.”

    2. Possibly the best passage of the most important piece of American literature ever written. I’ve often thought, if foreigners could just read one American book, it should be “Huckleberry Finn” (notwithstanding the difficulties of the vernacular) and they would know everything worth knowing about the American character.

  13. nigger, nigger, nigger. Kike, kike, kike. Wop, wop, wop.

    1. Please – the people who lionized LB for ‘exploring these societal boundaries by challenging authority’ are now much more mature, and have become comfortable with being in positions of authority.

  14. “Raaaaacist!!”

  15. Inner-city Blacks Wit Attitude and their hit “Straight Outta Compton”.

    1. Racist! It’s “Inner-city African-Americans”.

  16. Inner-city Blacks Wit Attitude and their hit “Straight Outta Compton”.

  17. As long as no one smokes in the book, I’m ok with it.

    1. Huck, a mere child, smokes a lot in the book. Uh oh.

  18. Actually, this is fantastic idea. Every time I hear “nigger” (well, “nigga”) in rap, I’m going to substitute “slave.”

    I ain’t sayin’ she’s a golddigger, but she ain’t fuckin’ with no broke slaves.

  19. Great. Now some assclown is being niggardly with the racial epithets.

    1. Bravo; well done.

  20. So am I now allowed to greet black people with ‘Wassup my slaves’?

    1. Only if you’re black.

      1. So slave isn’t a PC term? I’m confused now.

        1. That’s because you’re so damn racist.

  21. I can’t wait for Jack London’s ‘The Absence of Color Fang’.

  22. “Tom Sawyer floated down the river, on a raft, with a black guy – I read the book” – Eric Cartman

  23. If I recall correctly, Burroughs’ Tarzan stuff was pretty racist, but I’d want to hear from NutraSweet on that since I read them a long time ago.

    1. It wasn’t the use of the “n-word,” which I never recall seeing, as much as the constant background presumption–and sometimes overt statements–that whites were the superior race.

    2. Fairly, but it was always more of a semi-benevolent white man’s burden sort of thing. Black Africans were seen as a fallen race, that had done great things in the past, but gave into a moral degeneracy. He’s much more Kipling than Lovecraft, though.

  24. If you click and RTFA it’s plain to anyone above semi-Epsilon grade that the author here laments that the book is ignored, avoided, and/or recoiled from because of the numerous N-bombs in it and just wants to provide a version without it to get past that. It’s clear that he would agree that the book has not the same force as the original but he thinks a sanitized version is better than no version at all, that he hopes this book will be a better alternative than the “preemptive censorship” of avoiding the book altogether.

    Yes, yes, the book is a classic in large part because it speaks in “local color” (no pun intended!) and its language lays bare the ugliness of the racism of the time while the novel itself chop blocks the knees out from under such racism. This is in large part why it is such an actual tour de force. But when you come down to it, it is still going to be very, very hard to read the original in many settings because it in fact drops the N-word hundreds of times (Gribben notes that even the hate mail he gets about sanitizing the work takes care not to say the word!). Of course the rugged individualist Randian heroes here who will heap coals on the good doctor for being so cowardly and full of do-gooder sensitivity would not flinch from saying, writing and reading the word in such settings, but alas the rest of us possessing a bit less of the Galtian heroic stance would. That’s what the book is for.

    Moynihan escalates his cunningly coy seduction of conservatives and paleos (but I repeat myself) to new heights with the first line of this post (it’s clear Gribben himself doesn’t find reading the original version to be “racist”, but hey, nothing tickles the paleo funny bone more than people talking about racism). Not only Gribben can dance around readers sensitivities, some can even play upon them…

    1. f you click and RTFA it’s plain to anyone above semi-Epsilon grade that the author here laments that the book is ignored, avoided, and/or recoiled from because of the numerous N-bombs in it and just wants to provide a version without it to get past that.

      You didn’t have to read the article to get that. It was clearly in the blog post.

      However, the author here can be summed up as thus:

      He has to destroy literature to save it.

    2. Gribben’s surrender to politically correct sensibilities may be understandable on some level, but it does not alleviate the feeling of craveness associated with such an act.

    3. Sorry for the repost; it fits here, too:

      …the main point of the book [or the one I got out of it] is Huck realizing that Jim isn’t a “nigger”, Jim is not a thing, he’s a real human being with as much worth and dignity as Huck himself possesses.

      Note: see Warty’s excerpt above.

      See if that point hits home without the [epithets,] insults and degradation that Twain described.

    4. the book is ignored, avoided, and/or recoiled from because of the numerous N-bombs in it

      Kids tend to ignore, avoid, and recoil from pretty much any book adults order them to read.

      1. As well they should.

    5. If you click and RTFA it’s plain to anyone above semi-Epsilon grade that the author here laments that the book is ignored, avoided, and/or recoiled from because of the numerous N-bombs in it and just wants to provide a version without it to get past that.

      I always knew MNG was one of those eugenicist “human biodiversity” types.

      But remember kids, if you disagree with MNG you’re nothing but a filthy Racist/Zionist/Reptile Person!

  25. While he’s at it, he should also replace all of the guns with walkie-talkies.

  26. Censoring the n-word kind of violates the whole point of the book.

    The point was that Huck was an ignorant kid who could barely read, who’d been thoroughly indoctrinated by the culture he lived in — and yet he still wound up believing his own lying eyes when he saw that Jim was a person like him and deserved to be treated as such. The most inspiring part of the book is where he resolves: “All right, then, I’ll go to hell.” The fact that he was a product of his culture, n-word and all, makes it that much more meaningful.

    1. The “n-word”? I’m curious why you feel the need to censor yourself, especially on a site that’s notorious for commentator obscenities far more egregious than “nigger.”

      1. On the chance that you’re serious, I’ll respond that it’s because it’s the word at issue, not niggers per se. The phrase, “his culture, n-word and all,” has a different meaning from “his culture, niggers and all,” get it? It’s not the presence of black people in the culture that has meaning, but the presence of the word.

      2. I’ve been here for years and haven’t read an obscenity more egregious than “nigger.” That’s why it’s so important in the story. Dr. Gribben is a moron.

    2. What’s Kevin Carson doing here amongst all us “vulgar” types? That’s what I want to know.

  27. At the end of the book, when Tom Sawyer reveals that Miss Watson had died some time before and that Jim was now free, he said ‘That Nigger ain’t no slave.’ Substituting the word ‘slave’ for ‘Nigger’ is going to make that sentence pretty confusing.

    Is Gribben going to re-write Joseph Conrad’s Nigger Of The Narcissus next?

    1. Actually the substitution would make the sentence even funnier, such that Twain might wish he’d’ve thought of it himself.

  28. Pillows! Everyone needs pillows!

    1. We’ll get those when Dr Gribben takes on the sport of boxing.

  29. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn provides a window on a long lost time in American history. Attempts at making Huckleberry Finn conform to 21st century notions of propriety simply paint over that window, concealing the lessons that Twain so carefully constructed for his readers.

  30. Bowdlerizing a book is obscene.


  31. I’m saddened by this.

  32. From the sublime to the ridiculous, this bullshit just goes on. Has anyone seen an AMC broadcast of “Blazing Saddles” in the past few years? Every time the word ‘nigger’ is used about the new sheriff, there is a moment of silence. Again, that was how the bloody movie was made, THEN, and that attitude, is part of the point (even comedies can have a point).

    I’m sick of this crap! What’s next, taking “Indians” out of the original copies of the Constitution and replacing it with “Native Americans”? Why stop there, let’s get the word “God” out of the bible (and not just replace it with “YHWH”, but some other politically correct dreck).

    ‘nigger’, ‘fag’, ‘wetback’, etc. etc. etc. Yes, we get it, not ok for polite conversation anymore…. but leave the literature of the time alone!

    1. That’s funny, becuase Blazing Saddles itself makes a joke out of the rule that you can’t use the word, then goes on to break it:

      [Gabby Johnson sees the sheriff riding into town]
      Gabby Johnson: Hey! The sheriff’s a nig…
      [Clock bell chimes]
      Harriet Johnson: What did he say?
      Dr. Sam Johnson: He said the sheriff’s near.
      Gabby Johnson: No, gone blame it dang blammit! The sheriff is a nig…
      [Clock bell chimes again]

      Howard Johnson: [reading] As honorary chairman of the welcoming committee, it’s my privilege to present a laurel and hearty handshake to our new…
      [looks up and sees Bart]
      Howard Johnson: …nigger.

    2. You think you are kidding about the bible. You are not. Some of the newer versions of it have stripped out all of the references to “God the father” and all of the gender specific pronouns when used in relation to God and replaced them with less offensive gender neutral terms. I am not kidding

  33. “Person who annoys me” Jim? or Nagger Jim?

  34. Awesome how the first volume in the complete autobiography of Twain is released and is almost immediately followed by a bastardization of one of his seminal works.

    I’m glad we’re entering the age of digital books and that decisions of this sort will soon have little effect due to the proliferation of previous editions of books being digitized and put on the innanet for free …

    1. indeed – the uncensored version will be cheaper and more widely available than the censored version. Independent thinking kids can go and get the uncensored version on their own if they are so inclined. Though I imagine that only 1 kid in 50 would likely be so inclined.

      1. And that one kid is probably the only kid who would have read it on his or her own anyway. That one kid is going to understand it, and the other 49 who were forced into reading it for school, won’t. But they don’t give a shit anyway, so…

        I wonder how many teachers will explain to the students that the book they’re reading is not the original, but a bastardization and why. My guess is not many. It will be interesting when those kids go to college and they have a class discussion that some students understand and some are like “Huh?”

  35. More importantly, Han shot first.

  36. We let Howard Zinn rewrite history for our children’s textbooks so why not let the good doctor take a shot of the English language curriculum in general. It’s a messy language.

  37. I took all the “nigger” references out of the Bible.
    They burned me at the stake.
    Just sayin’.

  38. Dr. Gribben – performing Minitrue’s work for our children’s benefit.

  39. All this pc nonsense from today’s Tom Sawyer just proves that Rush were a bunch of Liberals.

    Reason needs to counter with the illustrated version of “The Adventures of Check Finn”. Teacher Jim?

  40. Any time you see the word “new” in front of the word “south” you can expect some type of nonsense – and in this case the foolishness is compounded by the camel-case of “NewSouth.”

  41. Also, didn’t Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions have some pretty un-PC language?

    And considering Twain was his favorite author, better cut it up just to be safe.

  42. I guess showing Mandingo in social studies class is right out, then.

  43. Dr. Gribben is anything but a PC leftie, in fact, PC leftie academics nearly ruined his career.

    1. Does he perhaps suffer from “Stockholm Syndrome” then?

    2. Welcome to the club. They take my links all the time. They only ever hat tip Venneman. The Reason staff’s love of that douchebag is both unrelenting and completely inexplicable.

  44. I feel like this was covered in yesterday’s morning links.

    And yet, no hat tip.

    1. Welcome to the club. They take my links all the time. They only ever hat tip Venneman. The Reason staff’s love of that douchebag is both unrelenting and completely inexplicable.

      1. I got hat-tipped once and only once; I think by Doherty. We get no respect, I tells ya.

        1. I think Ive been hat tipped twice, but its been a long long time.

          1. Well, mine was for the post about the anti-Islam black metal band from Lebanon, so I’m pretty proud of that one.

      2. Narcissism can be a thankless neurosis.

    2. You have to email them with the link to get a hat tip. Posting it in the middle of a morass of 200 comments doesn’t cut it.

      1. They have hat tipped comments before.

        I think my two were 50/50. One on a link I sent and one that I posted.

      2. Also, I see how it could be missed in random thread, but the morning links thread has become a place for commenters to throw random links that they can search for blog entries.

        1. Speaking of which, they really need to bring back weekend open threads.

  45. For no reason other than that I love Mark Twain: Corn-pone opinions. If I remember right, the slave in this was the real-life Jim.

    “You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I’ll tell you what his ‘pinions is.”

  46. “I was the only one left in the tomb then. It was sort of peaceful. I sort of liked it, in a way. It was so nice and peaceful. Then, all of a sudden, you’d never guess what I saw on the wall. Another ‘Give Peace A Chance.’ It was written with a red crayon or something, right under the glass part of the wall, under the stones.

    “That’s the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write ‘Give Peace A Chance’ right under your nose. Try it sometime. I think, even, if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetary, and I have a tombstone and all, it’ll say ‘Holden Caulfield’ on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, and then right under that it’ll say ‘Give Peace A Chance.’ I’m positive, in fact.”

    1. Catcher in the Rye sucks assssss [extended “ass” to show how much it actually sucks]

      I wish teachers in high school would go back to reading lists instead of telling students what they have to read and what are “Great Literary Classics”. I read a lot more than most of the kids in my classes, but I thought Grapes of Wrath and The Scarlet Letter were complete shit-works. Tolkien and London were far more interesting to me personally but were never “required readings.”

      The goal should be encouraging kids to read, not to force-feed them some crap that a literary society says is important. Far more kids would want to read Finn and Sawyer if it was publicized that nigger and injun were used abundantly within the pages.

    2. Ah yes, the only passage in that horrible piece of excrement that doesn’t contain the word “goddamn” or the phrase “old hunting cap”.

  47. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words are hurtful.

  48. This is basically the literary version of edited for TV movies. An interesting point that I heard in a sort of defense of this is that the n-word has a much different meaning and connotation today than it did in Twain’s time.

    1. Note: Most edited for TV versions are ridiculous, but the question is “Is 60% Huck better than 0% Huck” not “Is 60% Huck equal to the original?” If I have kids, they’ll read the original. Of course, if I have kids I’ll let them watch unedited Chris Rock comedy specials as well.

    2. Here is the thing. Suppose we banish the word nigger from the lexicon from this point forward. And we sanitize the language from the past. If I am a child born today, how am I ever supposed to appreciate and understand just how nasty things were? Doesn’t sanitizing the language sanitize history? And isn’t that doing a huge disservice to the memory of the people subjected to that kind of treatment?

      1. I completely understand your point about whitewashing the past. The thing is the word is considered much harsher today than it was in Twain’s time.

        However, if you teach it right or provide the context, you can get it through. Language evolves. Or look at the opposite view. Lots of words that were considered swear words or harsh are normal today. Like the joke in Back to the Future where George McFly asks if he really should swear when Marty tells him to say, “Get your damn hands off her”.

      2. I will say, I’m pleased about the controversy. Maybe it will encourage more parents to have their kids read the original at home. Sadly, that’s probably wishful thinking.

  49. Is there anything more ignorant than thinking that if you remove a word you will change the way people think?

    I know, I know; MNG’s argument about the substitution actually making the book more accessible to a broader range of people (who would otherwise have not read it due to the objectionable word) is fairly cogent; but the idea is that the “word” itself is such a demonstration of the idea of a person as possession and object of derision which is the point of Twain’s story. Softening it does no service to the point of the novel, regardless of widened readership.

    Twain on censorship: “censorship is telling a man he can’t have steak because a baby can’t chew it.”

    1. Also, in my experience teaching this book, not a single student has been turned into a nigger-hating racist, despite the presence of the word in the text. Nor has any student ever considered “nigger” OK to say in contexts outside of discussions related to the novel. People have been sufficiently sensitized to the negative meaning of the word. Further removing it from published works will do as John suggests above; it will dissaffect understanding of how bad things were.

    2. Is there anything more ignorant than thinking that if you remove a word you will change the way people think?

      I believe you were speaking rhetorically, Madbiker; but that’s kind of an interesting question.

      Removal/modification of a word reduces knowledge, information, or awareness — that is, increases ignorance. So, I’d say “Yes, waiting for the Morning Links is more ignorant”.

  50. Let me just put in a mil-spec recommendation for George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman books. Possibly the funniest books I have ever read. If you can find the old audiobooks read by David Case, buy them at any price.

  51. Baby was a black sheep. Baby was a whore.
    Baby got big and baby get bigger.
    Baby get something. Baby get more.
    Baby, baby, baby was a rock-and-roll slave.
    Oh, look around you, all around you,
    riding on a copper wave.
    Do you like the world around you?
    Are you ready to behave?

    Outside of society, they’re waitin’ for me.
    Outside of society, that’s where I want to be.


    Baby was a black sheep. Baby was a whore.
    You know she got big. Well, she’s gonna get bigger.
    Baby got a hand; got a finger on the trigger.
    Baby, baby, baby is a rock-and-roll slave.

    Outside of society, that’s where I want to be.
    Outside of society, they’re waitin’ for me.

    (those who have suffered, understand suffering,
    and thereby extend their hand
    the storm that brings harm
    also makes fertile
    blessed is the grass
    and herb and the true thorn and light)

    I was lost in a valley of pleasure.
    I was lost in the infinite sea.
    I was lost, and measure for measure,
    love spewed from the heart of me.
    I was lost, and the cost,
    and the cost didn’t matter to me.
    I was lost, and the cost
    was to be outside society.

    Jimi Hendrix was a slave.
    Jesus Christ and Grandma, too.
    Jackson Pollock was a slave.
    slave, slave, slave, slave,
    slave, slave, slave.

    Outside of society, they’re waitin’ for me.
    Outside of society, if you’re looking,
    that’s where you’ll find me.
    Outside of society, they’re waitin’ for me.
    Outside of society. (Repeat)

  52. I’d like to see versions of Slaughterhouse 5 and Cath 22 that remove the references to the Second World War.

    Killing people is just horrible, and our enjoyment of these modern classics should not be spoiled by references to such unpleasant behaviour.

  53. …I’d also like to be able to spell Catch 22 correctly. And there’s a preview button and everything…

  54. I believe this explains the change best:


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