A new edition of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn will lose those pesky offensive words that have made many seethe in fury at their insensitivity.
The rather offensive word that I hear in many rap songs, “nigger,” will be replaced by the seemingly inoffensive word “slave.” How the word “slave” is any less offensive is hard to understand, especially in the context of this book. The act of selling and buying humans as property is surely more inhumane than the act of discriminating based on colour, and one certainly does precede the other in the context of America.
Also, “Injun” shall be replaced by “Indian.”
We live in an age of sensitivity, where we tread carefully lest we disturb the ghosts of yesterday. There are burdens that many words carry, especially those that have been used and misused by cultures through history. We might wish these words to die out, but surely the more attention we pay to them, the longer they will survive.
Books are a window into our past, and by carefully pruning their pages, we are removing all the hues and shades that have existed. We are forcing ourselves into a world where we forget historical perspectives of social structures and institutions, imposing instead our own blinkered interpretations.
We do love to paint the world a color that we like. And I guess there is nothing that will stop us from doing so. We have always done so.
So while we are at it, why don’t we go one step further and delete every piece of literature which has ever had any condescending view of any national culture or economic tradition? And then we can sit back and live in a world where no one gets offended, and all transgressions of the past are forgotten in whitewashed guilt-ridden depictions.