11 January 2011

I'm Offended - Aren't You?

You may have heard the 'good' news. The novel, Huckleberry Finn is being rewritten in order to remove the n-word as well as the word "injun".

As the professor who is editing this new addition says,
"Race matters in these books," Gribben told PW. "It's a matter of how you express that in the 21st century."

Of course. Why didn't I understand that. Race is important. Someone may be offended by a novel written over a hundred years ago by Mark Twain who was against slavery. Twain was writing a social commentary about the time period before the Civil War. Has anyone out there heard about the word "context" when understanding an historical novel?

No. It's about our 21st century sensitivities. Are we saying that black people are unable to read Huckleberry Finn, a literary classic, because they may be offended? Are we saying that 'Native Americans' or Indians are unwilling to read this book because they too, may be offended? In other words, do we think they're stupid?

I like to believe that Americans - no matter the color or race - are smarter than that. That we are able to read a book in its historical context.

I'm Jewish. Do I want the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare changed because I may be offended by the character Shylock? Absolutely not. The play should be learned in its historical context. Shakespeare (as far as I'm aware) never met a Jew. At this point in time in history, Jews had been thrown out of England. Shakespeare was writing a character based on the attitudes and prejudices of his time. Students should learn the play in context.

Are we to ban or change all books we feel will offend? There won't be much classical literature left if we do.

Good article regarding this new addition of Huckleberry Finn.

No comments: