The Sheriff is a Near...

"Mark Twain once defined a classic as a book people praise but don’t read. It seems that his truism is still quite accurate.

In another of the sadly ironic PC events of the day there will be a new version of Tom Sawyer which will remove ‘offensive words’.

The word nigger (my sincere apologies to those who are offended by the use of this word but it would be sort of hypocritical to condemn censorship by censoring) will be replaced with slave while the world Injun will be removed entirely (not sure if he will now be Native American Joe).

The irony of all of this being, of course, is that one of the main reasonsfor having the word in the novel is for Huck to understand how offensive it is to Jim and for him to recognize his friend as a human being.

There are of course arguments in support of the move. We regularly edit movies for broadcast on television so that they can be seen by a broader audience, so why not do the same with books. I can see a small degree of merit in this. If someone who would not otherwise read the book does so because of the PC version that is a small victory.

But at the same time that reader will not get the full experience of the book as it was written, and that is sad..."


The Moderate Voice


Roadkill said...


The columnist Leonard Pitts - who I believe you have quoted from time to time - considers the PC version of Huck Finn "profoundly wrong" for a number of reasons. I think he makes a strong case for leaving the classic novel alone.

Sunny B. said...


I read Pitts' column and agree with him. It remains me of reading Faulkner's "Light In August" in Great Ideas during my senior year.

You have to take two Great Ideas class outside your major. Being an econ major, I took one of mine in English. A big part of the dicussion -- with all the business majors -- was how could Faulkner use the word "nigger" throughout the book. He must be a racist!

It was hard for the teacher to impart the idea that the author was -- like Twain -- using the dialogue of the time and place from where the novel was based.

This was 30 years ago! The business school was one of the smaller schools on campus. Perhaps today, the business school is teaching Atlas Shrugs in its Great Ideas class.

Roadkill said...


I'm a great admirer of Faulkner's work, and "Light in August" is perhaps his best novel. I'm happy to hear that you are familiar with it.

I would caution you regarding "The Sound and the Fury," however; its patently unreadable.