Censorship

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Recently, there have been movements set in motion to “censor” some American classics. A publishing company has recently changed every use of the word “nigger” in the book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to the word “slave”, and many are not pleased about it. This was brought about by many people feeling the word was too harsh and offensive, and from some teachers and parents not feeling comfortable with their kids reading it. When you change something like that are you not changing the authors intended creation? Are you not completely changing details and themes? And are you not being so arrogant as to improperly portray history?

Among the problems I see with their reasoning for the change, I see a larger problem, and that is that when you change a word, any word (not just a controversial one), that occurs literally hundreds of times in a novel you begin to change the book as a whole. Many people have been drawn into the debate over the controversy of the word "nigger". I liked the gist of Stephen Colbert’s bit on the topic however. This time, they are changing words over racial issues, but the plague of censorship can change anything and that's the problem. He jokes that even the title could be in jeopardy. His point is that the issue shouldn't be over the word, it should be over the changing of any word. Alongside the comedic newsman, the author Jill Nelson began to touch on this viewpoint in her Room for Debate article when she said, “What’s next? Substituting orange for red in a painter’s work because some observers find red too aggressive?” I see it as a problem where X is replacing Z, and if you know basic math, you know that changes everything.
It’s pretty funny, and sort of ironic that Mark Twain, the one whose book i...

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...the word wasn’t even racist back then, but that’s a topic for another essay. It’s very similar to how in today’s world, no one would would say “let’s take the automobile out for a spin”, they would say car, even though either word would fit.

The very notion of changing a novel in these three ways by changing the words is ridiculous. You can’t just go and change a great work of art for personal feelings or in an attempt to be politically correct. It’s like if someone who strongly supported gay rights started a petition to paint over and change the husband in American Gothic to a woman. No one would stand for that! The petition would get no where. Only because this issue is racial fueled are people blinded to the other effects. You aren’t just cutting out a racist term, you’re altering history: the history the novel tells of and the history that is the novel itself.

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