Publisher Announces Intention to Edit Huckleberry Finn To Remove N-Word

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are widely viewed as an American classic. However, the editors of NewSouth Books have decided that they need to do some editing. The editors have decided to remove the “n” word from the book and replace it with “slave.” The editing of a classic raises very troubling questions from the right of an author to have his works remain unchanged to the integrity of literary and historical works. Like all great works, the book must be read with an understanding of the mores and lexicon of its time.

This offense against the original work is being lead by Alan Gribben, who insists that he is merely updating the work. Classic works, however, do not need updating. Gribben decision to improve on Twain’s work for contemporary readers is a breathtaking act of hubris. A vast array of classic and contemporary works use the n-word and other offensive language. If Gribben wants a work without offensive language, he should write The Adventures of Alan Gribben.

Gribben appears to think the following quote from Huckleberry Finn was something of an invitation by Twain:

“Please take it,” says I, “and don’t ask me nothing – then I won’t have to tell no lies.”

Replacing this word with “slave” can change the meaning and certainly the intent of Twain. Consider the following line:

“Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful. Why, looky here. There was a free nigger slave there from Ohio – a mulatter, most as white as a white man. He had the whitest shirt on you ever see…

The difference may be subtle but Twain clearly could have used slave. The word existed at the time. Twain chose the n-word to convey something beyond captive status. It was a word used widely. It is still used in literary works to say something about the people who use it.

Other authors like William Faulkner used this word in capturing the culture of the South. Consider the following passage from Go Down, Moses (1940):

This delta, he thought: This Delta. This land which man has deswamped and denuded and derivered in two generations so that white men can own plantations and commute every night to Memphis and black men own plantations and ride in jim crow cars to Chicago to live in millionaires’ mansions on Lakeshore Drive, where white men rent farms and live like niggers and niggers crop on shares and live like animals, where cotton is planted and grows man-tall in the very cracks of the sidewalks, and ursury and mortgage and bankcruptcy and measureless wealth, Chinese and African and Aryan and Jew, all breed and spawn together until no man has time to say which is which nor cares…. No wonder the ruined woods I used to know don’t cry for retribution! He thought: The people who have destroyed it will accomplish its revenge.

Would we rewrite Faulkner as well? How about all of the modern movies and books using this term as part of modern urban speech? Authors write to capture characters who are often racist or living in racist times. This publisher may billed itself as the “NewSouth” but this book was written about the Old South. To sanitize history or literature is an act of violence against the artistic work of these authors.

I find the editing of a great literary work to be nothing short of shameful and shocking, but views can differ on such a question. I would be interested in the views of others on the blog.

Source: EW and Reddit

Jonathan Turley

140 thoughts on “Publisher Announces Intention to Edit Huckleberry Finn To Remove N-Word

  1. I hear their next project is removing the word “Jew” from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.

    Since we’re in an editing frenzy, I find the name Alan Gribben offensive and suggest it be edited to read “Busybody Philistine”. In addition, the name “NewSouth Books” is offensive and I suggest it be changed to “RevisionistRelflexiveJackass Books”.

  2. Sounds like this fellow would be more comfortable burning books than publishing them. You leave the author’s words alone. If the content makes you uncomfortable, then don’t publish it. Someone else will.

    Needless to say, if I’m in the market for a copy, I’ll be looking for an “original” version not this re-imagining.

    Looks like this publisher and Haley Barbour both have a revisionist view of the “Old South”.

  3. I wonder what Mr. Gribben would do with Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi”; where the word “nigger” is used when quoting someone else, but when Twain is speaking in the narrative he uses “negro”?

    I agree with Prof. Turley. Rewriting history is never a good idea.

  4. Will they next remove the editorials from Penthouse….will the Forum still be available…(is it still published) will Hustler have to seek a new audience….will Madonna’s book have to come off of the shelves….

    Hell, I always thought “War and Peace” was too long to read…maybe they will edit that one too…How about taking Ray….no more Sheiks…. off of the air…Will the lady be able to sing her camel to bed….

    Then again…may I select the Scifi’s for the local library…..

  5. This is just so wrong period. The story was set in the times that it was and has endured since then and now because some sensibilities are being up set they want to change it to suite them. Writing, art, photography, especially writing should be left alone, its the signature of the man and the times, its a guide post to how things were and to change it to fit modern times is wrong. Give your silly heads a shake and leave it be as it is. Dare we tamper with ” Catcher in the Rye”?? I think not.

  6. For whom does Prof Gribben believe he is “updating” this classic? Is it for the (riffing off Rich Ottenstroer’s observation) Haley Barbour crowd of history deniers and revisionists or to attact today’s kids who would surely be offended by such language in this age is gangsta rap lyrics?

  7. […] Does the world need a version of Huckleberry Finn without the “N-word” in it? Probably not. Though people have been looking for ways to clean up classics for years.  For example, Ray Bradbury’s classic book on censorship and reading, Fahrenheit 451, for years had an edited version published for use in high school English classes.  It wasn’t until Bradbury discovered the existence of the book that the edited version got pulled from the market. […]

  8. Well. I think we are mostly in agreement. I knew there was common ground btwn us all. One thing I have to bring up. I doubt NewSouth is the ONLY publisher for the work but I could be wrong. If this is merely one publisher doing this … don’t buy this edition. It would be analogous to reading a “Reader’s Digest” version it that entity still exists. Or summary works as in the Cliff’s Notes versions. Outside of that this is bogusiousness.

  9. Not to defend what the guy wants to do but I do see one place where this might be of some value. The book really should be taught in school as it is very subversive and liberating when it is understood. But a lot of schools are afraid of it simply because of that one awful word. Some black activists have called for the book to be banned & teachers and school admins are rightfully worried about the possible offense or controversy.

    Now the right thing to do would be to teach the book and discuss the power of that word & why Twain used it specifically (since he is not on record as having used it himself), how it was used then and now. But that would require everyone to be rational and adult and one thing we should have learned over the last few years is that rational adults rarely control the discussion anymore.

    If it would at least get the book read by a new generation of kids it might be a fair trade. Certainly better than the hatchet job my school did on “Death Of A Salesman”

  10. I think Frank has raised a valid point as to why something like this could be a good idea. Although I would not be interested in reading a Bowdlerized version of Twain, I see no good reason to stop a publisher from doing so for works that are in the public domain. There are of course “moral rights” theories that say a work of art can never be changed, but I’ll admit that I don’t know enough about those theories to give an informed opinion. (Actually, I have no desire to read Twain at all, because the books I’ve started are written in dialect that I find off-putting. Would people object if I rewrote these books using formal English?)

    There are modern cases where publishers have attempted to alter movies to remove (perceived) objectionable content (e.g., a sexual encounter), but to my knowledge the publishers have been prevented from doing so. These cases differ from the Twain issue because the movies are not in the public domain.

  11. I agree with Buddha that the name Gribben is offensive and must be “updated”, but not revised. I wonder if Justice Scalia’s originialism extends to classic literature?

  12. Is such editting legally any different than someone other than me altering a painting I’ve done by applying his own paint to change the way something looks in my painting? Or is even that kind of editting permitted?

  13. Agree with all that Prof. Turley and Rich Ottenstoer have to say upthread. It becomes even more interesting if the same filter is applied to something like rap music, which is essentially the music of an entire generation thrown aside by middle America. If you want to see how “editing” affects the music, listen to an “explicit” and “clean” version of a rap song on iTunes, even the sample if you don’t feel the need to purchase the song and you’ll see how just the removal of “offensive” words not only changes the art, but the meaning. Maybe “cleaned-up” rap is not the best analogy, but it seems apt here.

    I think Twain would have words for “Professor” Gribben, many with four letters and most likely sarcastically humorous.

  14. Jo – I think you are right about the rap music. I posted the song “Golddigger” on here last week, and I chose the clean version in order not to offend some on here.

  15. ““Race matters in these books,” Gribben told PW. “It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”

    I’d say its a tad late.

  16. eniobo,

    ““Race matters in these books,” Gribben told PW. “It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”

    I’d say its a tad late.


    And you’d be right.

    I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s never too late for a racist cover-up.

  17. You like to know about “change makers”:

    Dr. Alan Gribben has been nationally recognized with an honorary lifetime membership in the Mark Twain Circle of America and other awards. Dr. Gribben co-edited MARK TWAIN ON THE MOVE: A TRAVEL READER (2009) and wrote the biography of a major library-builder, HARRY HUNTT RANSOM: INTELLECT IN MOTION (2008). From 1991 until 2010 he served as head of the Department of English and Philosophy at Auburn Montgomery, where he received the Dr. Guinevera A. Nance Alumni Professorship in 2006.

  18. Bluoise,
    It seems to be same Teapublicans who are involved in this constant struggle to rewrite history. This beginning to remind me of Fahrenheit 454.

  19. I assume the owners of the rap music agreed to put sanitized versions on iTunes (money trumps art) so I don’t see that as a good analogy. I note that Prof. Turley was unwilling to actually spell out the word at issue in his own writing, which, to me, is part of the reason Frank’s comment is on point.

  20. Mahtso,

    Not spelling the word out was JT’s choice.

    I fail to see how that has any bearing on the publisher deciding for Twain to remove the word.

    Societies change; that doesn’t mean we should pretend that what they changed from never existed.

  21. jfxgillis,

    You being a lazy teacher isn’t the equivalent of everyone else being an asshole. Just yourself.

  22. Blouise:

    Thank you. I don’t care for NewSouth’s particular editorial choice–there’s no need to insert a word that Twain (or Faulkner) did not write and that strips the connotation. And I’d use the unexpurgated text for college sophomore and above (i.e. American Lit classes as such rather than freshman surveys or high school).

  23. jfxgillis: All I can say is that I am glad I am not you. It would be terrible to go through life with such a sour outlook. As for the rest of your rant, I will go with what BIL said; who as usual, is spot-on.

  24. “jfxgillis 1, January 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Funny. I’ve just been all over the web looking at the blogposts on this topic”

    I been surfing the web my self and this was the only site that I came across that was talking about this particular subject.

    Not even Fox,CNN. CBS,MSNBC,WWOR,WABC I could go on and on.

    “EVERYBODY is full of shit, including EVERYBODY on this thread, including Jonathan Turley.”

    Out there all alone eh?

  25. Blouise,

    No. It’s not your wit that is dull in this instance, but your target. I got the sarcasm just fine.


    You are new to this blog and may not be aware of its civility policy. The regulars on this site strive for civil, if passionate, discussion with little rancor or profanity. I rarely delete comments. Indeed, I do not regularly monitor the comments due to my day job. However, I have deleted a couple of your comments under our civility policy.

    Jonathan Turley

  27. “you don’t want to waste the week you have slotted for Faulkner or half the two weeks you have for Twain arguing about the whys and wherefores of the n-word.”

    Then as the adult and, more importantly, the instructor, you should control the conversation.

    That IS your job.

    Otherwise, you should just let the students teach themselves, because right now, you are letting them control the dialog.

    By the way, go on and assume you’re the only one here with teaching experience.

    Because you know what they say about assumptions.

    I don’t suppose you’ve thought about addressing the “time” problem with supplemental materials or teaching aids either. Because that too would require you to be doing your job.

    But please . . . make some more excuses for you not controlling your own classroom.

    It’s funny.

    I’ll have mine with lettuce, olives and vinegar and oil.

  28. Jonathan:

    Yeah. Right. You deleted the ones with substantive argument and left the rest.

    And you did so on a thread devoted to so-called censorship and ignorant whining about “political correctness.”

    Acoording to you, I have to subject my students to the n-word but your precious commenters don’t have to be subjected to the f-bomb.

    I must say, however, I’m honored to have captured your attention.

  29. It sounds like somebody is too weak of a teacher to direct the conversation in their own classroom.

    The word is being used in a very deliberate way, and changing it is disrespectful to the author’s intentions. Something like a starred censor[n****r] would be somewhat less ridiculous, but any attempt to sanitize the word underestimates the average student’s intelligence. Most high school kids have heard this word at some point, yet nobody is willing to discuss it. When this particular text comes up in the curriculum, a teacher should actually /teach/ from it. Engage your students. Have an intelligent discussion and get the kids to think.

    Not talking about it pretends that it’s just another rude word, not a terrible, albeit undeniable, part of American history.

  30. Methinks: niggardly pejorative use is wise.

    Did I use a “dah-dit” word?

    73, W9GUO di-dah-di-dah-dit dah-di-dah

    (dah-dit = Morse code “n”)
    (73 = best regards)
    (W9GUO = my Extra Class amateur radio station call sign)
    (di-dah-di-dah-dit = end of message)
    (in context, dah-di-dah = over to you, unspecified: who you are)

    How about using extra class in the words used here?

  31. NewSouth Books’ decision is an intellectual and literary abomination. I have more to say about this but I’m tied up right now finishing my editing of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” for a Sesame Street production.

  32. I find it unconscionable to alter a work long ago written wherein a serious social atrocity is represented in word otherwise plausibly inappropriate.

    Why do I find changing the words used by Mark Twain to be of atrocity. Perhaps it has to do with my family, and experiences of members of my family.

    My brother’s widow is a Distinguished Professor, one who cares about telling historically accurate truths about the past and the ways people can overcome the errors of the past by accurately understanding what they were.

    Similarly, there may be errors of the present which, if recognized and acknowledged accurately, may be overcome in the future. Shall we work to overcome such?

    You may Google search for “Harold Washington College” AND “bjharris.aspx” if you so choose.

    Biologically, as I observe, there is only one race of homo sapiens, human and colored.

    Wonder what will happen if I encounter a Wisconsin police officer who is attempting to extract from me my “race” and “ethnicity” in accord with recent.

    If I communicate to a police officer that I am “white,” I am communicating false information and therefore am obstructing the officer.

    White is all colors in balance (red, green, and blue).

    If I communicate to a police officer that I am “black,” I am communicating false information and therefore am obstructing the officer.

    Black is the absence of light, no colors at all.

    If I truthfully communicate that I am colored, will my truthfulness be deemed obstructing an officer?

    What is my ethnicity? Autistic. How much trouble am I in for doing everything I have been able to do to be truthfully alive?

    How can those who do not know me tell me who I am?

  33. Aye, Brian. I’ve read there is only about a 7% variation in all the genes of humankind. In my experience, and I’ve said this before, there are only two kinds of people: those of good character and those of bad character. And skin color doesn’t have a damn thing to do with character. We are all more alike than different. But who can tell you who you are without knowing you?

    No one.

  34. Holy Snikies! I go to watch my Salukis beat up on the Bradley Braves and I miss all the excitement on this thread! Mr. Gillis, please come back, but just be professional.
    Mike A., I want to know how that Sesame Street production of Lady Chatterly’s Lover is coming along? Is Elmo in trouble again??

  35. The simple fact is that modifying vernacular of any published work strips the author’s intent and blurs the shifting of cultural idioms over time. To edit Twain’s use of “nigger” with the word “slave” hides many cultural definitions of this word over time.

    There are reasons why the word “nigger” is despised, and there are reasons why the editor would prefer “slave” over “nigger.” Slave denotes property, as obliquely expressed in the US Constitution–it maintains an illusion of cultural control.

    I am astounded that a literate individual would even consider making such changes. History is fragile enough and does not require the “editing” of source (if even fictional) documents.

  36. rafflaw,

    Please do not encourage the production of Mike A.’s movie … I have to watch hours and hours of everything Sesame Street with my granddaughter …

  37. rafflaw:

    I don’t think I was unprofessional. But I’ll come back tomorrow with a more complete argument including whatever stupid rubbish Fox News spouts about it.

  38. @mahtso

    Although I would not be interested in reading a Bowdlerized version of Twain, I see no good reason to stop a publisher from doing so for works that are in the public domain.

    Public domain is not a free license to modify historical context.

    (Actually, I have no desire to read Twain at all . . .

    So which is it, you don’t want to read Twain at all, or you don’t want to read a “Bowdlerized version?”

    . . . because the books I’ve started are written in dialect that I find off-putting.

    Have you finished reading these books?

  39. And of course, here on the Isle of Great Bedlam things are getting even worse.

    Here we now also have the “P” word, being short for Paki, an abreviation of Pakistani. Ironicly, this word can often be heard being used by Pakistani immigrants and their descendants. But when a non asian person uses the word, suddenly it is “offensive”.

    Why? It’s only an abreviation. Like Brit. I promise I will not take offence if any of you call me a Brit. Or even a Limey. Or a Pom.

    A year or so back I had a bit of an arguement with a criminology lecturer over the word nigger. He was actually of the opinion that the word should become the “property” of black people only! I suggested he may like to read another book about language – 1984.

    Going back to the “P” word, when the term is used I like to feign righteous offence and anger. Upon enquiry I offer the explanation that as I am of Irish blood, I take deep offence at even an abreviation of the term “Paddy”. I find it always helps to confuse the weasels.

    Oh, by the way, I promise I won’t be offended if any of you refer to me as a Paddy or a Bog Trotter either!

  40. Blouise:

    Sorry, but I’m feeling a bit perverse after having spent Christmas week with a two-year old grandson who insisted on either Ralph or The Wiggles with breakfast each morning.

  41. jfxgillis,

    Good … I hope you do. We all get carried away sometimes and cross the civility line … this is not the regular, run-of-the-mill blog … passion has to be tempered … they make me do it all the time

  42. Mike A.,

    I hear you. I have 42 constantly viewed sesame street videos and muppet movies … my 2 year old granddaughter would certainly want to add “Lady Chatterley’s Lover Lives on Sesame Street” to the collection.

  43. gbk

    To the best of my recollection, I’ve never finished a book by Twain.

    As to the choice between a Bowdlerized version or not: the thread was about Bowdlerizing a work, so my main comment was directed to that end (and was following up on similar comments made by others); the parenthetical was intended to be a full disclosure, on the off chance that anyone actually cared to know. If I was planning to read a book by Twain, I’d choose an available version that most closely matches the original version. Let me know if further clarification would be helpful.

    I don’t understand your comment about the public domain: if a work is in the public domain, then we are all free to use it as we see fit (absent a moral-rights law). If you choose to use a public domain work in a way that I don’t like, that is too bad for me, and the author has lost his right to prohibit you from doing so. (Compare this issue (public domain work) to the injunction prohibiting a book about Holden Caufield (character protected by copyright).)

  44. Maaarrghk!
    1, January 5, 2011 at 2:08 am
    Why? It’s only an abreviation. Like Brit. I promise I will not take offence if any of you call me a Brit. Or even a Limey. Or a Pom. …”


    What’s a Pom?

  45. Gyges,

    Society does change and, based on my own understanding that books are being excluded from schools because of a change related to the acceptance of the use of the word nigger (by anyone who is not a person of color), I believe that Frank provided a valid argument for altering the book. I understood that argument to be that removing the offending word would expose more students to books that have been considered classics.

    I fully acknowledge that on the whole, it may not be a good idea to teach from a Bowdlerized text. But I also assume that people who think that Twain’s work is genius would not find that that genius is based solely on his use of the word nigger and, consequently, the benefits of teaching with the Bowdlerized text might outweigh not teaching Twain at all.

  46. Mahtso,

    Choosing what you teach based on what’s not offensive is a loosing game. It gets you abstinence only education, it gets you science teachers forced to “teach the controversy,” it gets you watered down versions of classics. Reality doesn’t change because somebody finds it offensive, and we do our children (and selves) a disservice by acting like it does.

    Also, you can teach Twain without teaching the whole of Huckleberry Finn. The kid’s probably be better off for it. I’d love to see time spent on his essays and short stories. That’s where he REALLY shone.

    Here’s my suggestion for you: Go find a copy of his Dairies of Adam and Eve. I think they’re up on that Gutenberg website I linked to earlier. I’ve yet to read a more bitter sweat ending than the one of Adam’s Diary.

  47. The whole point to public domain is that the works no longer belong to anyone. As long as the original isn’t destroyed, why not have a few alternate versions. Heck, I like Disney’s Snow White in a way that’s completely different from the German version. Probably the biggest rewrites (politically anyway) have been versions of the Bible, and once you mess with the word of God..

  48. I want to add that I know people (avid readers) who are so uncomfortable about the word ‘nigger’ that they’ve never read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, just for the reason of the frequency of the word in the book. Dashes, over replacement, would of course solve this particular problem.

  49. When I sees ah Niger I hides my stuff. You can usually smell em first. But that depends on which way the wind blows. But in all my years I have smelled worse white nigers than ones if colour. So teach, teach your children well.

  50. The names says it all. But I could be paying attention to the bishop just as easy, ergo, spanking the bishop.

  51. I teach school in a rural area of deep East Texas and it’s far more common to hear African-Americans use the “n” word than it is among whites. Richard Pryor – one of the worst offenders – finally came to understand that as long as some people continue to use the word it is unresonable to expect others to stop. However, this is just ridiculous. One cannot eliminate the past by editing it out.

  52. Spanking,

    Sorry. I’m not your type. Although I support your right to serve in the military, marry, and all the other rights you are Constitutionally due under the 14th Amendment (despite what that neocon troll Scalia says).

    Now grow up.

  53. I am surprised you recognized your own. My hand and imagination tire I am pleased you’re on board.

  54. Hi Blouise.

    Sorry for the late reply.

    Pom (or Pommie) is a term used by the Australians when refering to the English. It’s a derogatory term, but a good natured one and both we and the Aussies are comfortable with that.

    The historic word is actually POHM, which stands for Prisoner Of His Majesty and comes from the time when Australia served as a penal colony for the UK. The convicts had the letters sewn onto the backs of their prison uniforms.

    Eventually, transportation to Australia became not so feared as a punishment after one of the more progressive Govenors started doling out 2 acre plots of decent farming land to those who had served their sentences and fancied starting a new life. These were the descendents of many modern white Australians.

    I guess Pommie is used in much the same way as we use the term Yanks when refering to you lot. Not altogether complimentary, but we don’t expect you to get mad about it and to your credit you even write quite stirring songs when “The Yanks Are Coming”.

  55. Maaarrghk!,

    My father-in-law served with many Englishmen in combat during WWII. He always referred to them as Limey’s but with the utmost respect in his voice and attitude. “The (blank space for political correctness especially at this time) were dirty and cowards but the Limey’s, they were great soldiers and fighters. I’d go into battle with a Limey anytime, anywhere.”

    He served in North Africa and then Italy.

  56. It is plain to me that words can never have a plain, one-to-one correspondence between a given word and its perfectly unique meaning and meanings can never have a plain, one-to-one correspondence between a given meaning and its perfectly unique word symbol. Is my meaning plain, even if my word are not?

    Given my being autistic as I am, I resort to dictionaries as part of my effort to discover whether intelligible communication will ever be plausible; without plausibility, how could possibility ever come to fruition?

    From “The American Heritage College Dictionary, Third Edition” (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, New York, 1997) {the dictionary I bought for fine-tuning my word usage in my dissertation}, page 922:

    [bold on]nig[dot]ger[bold off] [pronunciation omitted] [italics on]Offensive slang.{italics off] [bold on]1.a.[bold off] Used as a disparaging term for a Black person. [bold on]b.[bold off]Used as a disparaging term for a member of any dark-skinned people. [bold on]2.[bold off] Used as a disparaging term for a member of any socially, economically, or politically deprived people. [word origin descriptors omitted]

    As I am an autistic person, I find I am a member of a socially, economically, and politically deprived people. All autistic people thus are, by definition, niggers for as long as autism is always a mental disorder or defect or disease by consensus definition — said consensus invariably excluding those who are autistic and/or are niggers..

    Under penalty of perjury, herewith, I resoundingly affirm that I am, have always been, and (because the past cannot be changed by merely denying it) expect always to be a nigger. I am neither proud nor ashamed of being a nigger, yet I regard so being as among the very most difficult, yet beautiful and cherished, aspects of my life.

    When I was in grade school, living in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, I was able to pass, to pass as though not a nigger and not autistic. In these facts of my life, I set out to deceive no one, yet the difficulties I have in finding word that accurately convey my intended meaning(s) kept me from effectively sharing what I knew and understood with others. As I never know for sure that nothing of my life will I ever effectively share with others, I make the effort to communicate of which I find myself capable, even to the extent of regularly becoming heartbroken.

    When I was in grade school, living in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, being able to pass, I sometimes played “children’s games” with neighborhood children. “Eeny, Meeney, Miney, Moe; Catch a Nigger By the Toe; If He Hollers, Let Him Go; Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe; Youre IT!. Words have no plain meaning. I knew what a nigger was, my playmates evidently did not. There is more than one form of nigger. For me, the nigger in that “Who is IT” jingle was, is, and always will be, a little harmless, gentle, furry pretend animal without a tail, and about the size of a gentle, playful month-old kitten without claws who never bites anything alive. To catch a little harmless furry kitten-like nigger, one can only catch it by one of its toes, there is nothing else one can grab on to without hurting the nigger. But little harmless furry kitten-like niggers object to being caught, they are meant to harmlessly go about sharing kindness and decency with anyone and everyone, including people who do not yet know or understand that fact.

    No wonder I have met with scorn and derision from some folks who never troubled themselves to know me.

    As I am writing these words, I am listening to music, Jeff Ball (on a compact disk, Reverence, Red Feather Music RF3003), track 1: “Out of the Darkness”

    Not only because people who identify as black identify my maternal grandmother as black, not only because I have close family members who identify as black, but because, by every definition that makes any useful sense to me, I am a nigger and I rejoice in the gift of so being.

    Ain’t gonna be nobody done take that from me, In world of due process, I done did pay my dues.

    I know my main man, even if you don’t; even if you believe me not.

    The late Lewis B. Smedes, as a Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, wrote, “Forgive & Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve” (Harper & Row, 1984) describes ways of forgiving past hurts. However, I take intense exception to the premise I find implied in his book title. I live my life in accord with, “Forgive & Remember: Remembering First Forgiving & Forgiveness.”

    I take umbrage beyond transcending the infinite at the atrocity of denying to those given lives of being niggers the right to have lived their lives by replacing meangful words with meaningless ones..

    Palliation and sequestration of the errors of the past, such that it is as though the lives of those damaged and destroyed by disparaging denigration is as though to deny validity to people who lived lives unfathomably heroic and beyond heroic is; to me, like the mutilation of a corpse, the denial of the spirit of truthful decency, and the assured pathway of humanity pursuing the endless recidivism of ever-increasing compounded atrocities.

    As I find quoted at the beginning of the Introduction of Steve de Shazer, “Words Were Originally Magic” (W. W. Norton, 1994):

    He impaired his vision by holding the object too close. He might see, perhaps, one or two points with unusual clearness, but in so doing he, necessarily, lost sight of the matter as a whole. Thus there is such a thing as being too profound. Truth is not always in a well. — C. Auguste Dupin, The Murders in the Rue Morgue…

    The way I live is rather well told in “Living Presence: A Sufi Way to Mindfulness & the Essential Self” (Kabir Edmund Helmniski, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1992). To know what I mean by that, you will need to read, to study, and come to understand Helminski’s book, unless you have already so done..

    From Helminski, the page before page 1:

    [italics on]The Master said: There is one thing in this world which must never be forgotten. If you were to forget everything else, but did not forget that, then there would be no cause to worry; whereas if you performed and remembered and did not forget every single thing, but forgot that one thing, then you would have done nothing whatsoever. It is just as if a king had sent you to a country to carry out a specific task. You go and perform a hundred other tasks; but if you have not performed that particular task on account of which you had gone to the country, it is as though you have performed nothing at all. So man has come into this world for particular task, and that is his purpose; if he does not perform it, then he will have done nothing. -“DISCOURSES OF RUMI[italics off] (Translated by A. J. Arberry)…

    From Helminski, page 152:

    Water says to the dirty, “Come here.”
    The dirty one says, “I’m so ashamed.”
    Water says,
    “How will your shame be washed away without me.”
    – RUMI, [italics on]MATHNAWI[italics off], II, 1366-67

    Who remembers Godfrey Cambridge, about six minutes into the movie, “The President’s Analyst,” describing, in character, his second day of school? “Run, Run”? “Here comes the nigger.”?

    Here comes Brian the Nigger, who, as fact, believes he may have come into this world for a particular task; a task of harmlessly going about sharing kindness and decency with anyone and everyone, including people who do not yet know or understand that fact.

    Of no person who desires to deceive the future about the past by changing meaningful words into meaningless ones will I tolerate their so doing, for, were I tolerate such doing, while affirming such people as would so do, would not I guarantee that, with my life, I will have done nothing?

    It is not the way of truth to replace a correct, albeit misunderstood, word with an incorrect and more greatly misunderstood word. Better to use the correct word, and identify, and then use, its correct-in-context meaning?

    Or, am I mistaken and mistaken about being mistaken? Do I niggardly niggle with the proper meaning of nigger? If so, what more could be expected from Brian the Nigger?

    Some years ago, another person who matches my personal definition of “nigger” remarked to me, to the effect, “What you say makes more sense to me than anything else I ever heard in my whole life.” My nigger friend went on, also saying, in effect, I know that I will never be able to tell others what it is like for us, but I think you may some day be able to do that. If you ever find that you can tell, please do so, for us, and for everyone else.”

    Run, Run? Where is there to run to that is not here, where we already are?

    Run, Run? Here comes Brian? I know what it is like for us. I live what it is like for us. In the salt mine. Who is everyone else? The only people I have known are not everyone else. I have only known us, us niggers. Methinks no one else exists.

    Why not admit the evident truth? Is it not manifestly apparent that we, everyone and everyone else, are as though in a great darkness, thus niggers, together making the effort to come “Out of the Darkness” and into the light?

    Having been told about them, that they are not like us, I have searched everywhere possible, in every way possible, for a them; all I have ever found is us.

    Reverence. Out of the Darkness! Reverence for Life! Into the Light…La Kayim!

  57. Dr. Harris: Yours is the most elegant and vivid accounts of what it is like to be “different” in our society. All of us are different in one way or another, but some–like yourself–are more different than most. Again, you make an elegant statement, using a shock word to drive home your point. If you had not used that word, your account would have lost much of its power. And that is the point of this entire discussion. Of subtracting from a work of art by trying to edit the offensive from the delicate sensibilities of the average reader. My goodness, we must not let our impressionable young people be shocked out of their anomie! They might begin thinking on their own, without prompting.

  58. First, let me say that I am a school librarian who made it through his 1L year. Fierce defender of fine literature – that’s in the job description. But I see the point for the change.

    The reason for the change is a simple one. Huckleberry Finn is one of the most frequently banned books in the United States SOLELY due to the use of the word “nigger”. Or at least that is the stated reason. The real reasons are the meat of the book – the examination of Jim and his treatment and how much we haven’t changed as a society. But “oh, that book has that dirty ‘n’ word!!!!” gets everyone all a-flutter.

    Supposedly Prof. Gribben (distinguished, if not THE foremost Twain scholar in America today) is writing a forward explaining his alterations. I look forward to reading his forward, and to seeing the arguments now against the re-introduction of Huckleberry Finn into school curricula.

  59. IMO, no one has the right to change the words of an author. Twain wrote a book that reflected the times in which the story was set. Are we supposed to accept the sanitization of great works of literature because they make some people feel uncomfortable? As a former teacher and school librarian, I often did pre-reading discussions with my students to provide them with background information and to put books in context so my students would have a better understanding of the stories and their characters.

    Would the following poem, written by a Black American, have the same impact if the author had not used the “N” word? I think not.

    (For Eric Walrond)

    Once riding in old Baltimore,
    Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
    I saw a Baltimorean
    Keep looking straight at me.

    Now I was eight and very small,
    And he was no whit bigger,
    And so I smiled, but he poked out
    His tongue, and called me, “Nigger.”

    I saw the whole of Baltimore
    From May until December;
    Of all the things that happened there
    That’s all that I remember.



    I find it troubling that a school librarian would be in favor of censoring a work of literature. It think it would be better if you spoke out and defended the use of “Huckleberry Finn” in the schools as it was written by Twain.

  60. Blouise,
    If you’re at Severance Thursday night, stop by at the top of the steps balcony/dress circle area and say Howdy. Look for the big bucks in the tux.
    If you’re at the Playhouse Friday night, stop by to say Howdy. We usher there, too!
    Mr. Ed

  61. Somewhat (actually vastly) off topic, but to me, this is as pathetic as the film “The King’s Speech” getting an R rating due to language, when the swear words used were used for a specific reason, and not for the mere joy of cursing.
    Mark Twain, whether one likes or hates him, has written many of this nations classics. If we start eliminating the “n” word from books, we’ll now have to consider Faulkner, To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone With the Wind, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and who knows how many others.

  62. mr.ed,

    Nuts, nuts, and nuts … Tchaikovsky! I was scheduled to go to the 8pm on Sat. but the hubby is back in the hospital so I gave our tickets to friends … I’ll think of you enjoying the Pathétique because no one will be arriving late!

    We have tickets for South Pacific but I can’t remember which night.

  63. Gyges, Thanks for the pointer to Adams Diary by Twain. I had not read that or Eves Diary before. They were enjoyable and the illustrations in Eves Diary were lovely. I enjoyed the way Twain made Eve the force for joy and liberation in the garden, none of that hide-bound christian dogma for him.

  64. Yeah well … the dude is not so silent when he’s yelling at nurses and telling doctors to speak english … it’s a wonder they don’t kill him … but they seem to like him none-the-less and they are working like crazy to stabilize him … it’s been a rough couple of weeks for him and for our daughter, the designated family crier. I’m afraid the poor kid is going to drown!

  65. Blouise

    I hope your husband is doing better. And I hope you got some sleep.

    Elaine M.

    You’ve been missed and that’s a very telling poem.

  66. Elaine M.


    I find it troubling that a school librarian would be in favor of censoring a work of literature. It think it would be better if you spoke out and defended the use of “Huckleberry Finn” in the schools as it was written by Twain.


    Hear, hear. (Welcome back.)

  67. Blouise,

    Long work day ahead of me. While I was snoozin’, this thread was hoppin’…

    I’m very sorry to hear about your husband. Will e-mail…

  68. Elaine M.,

    Missed the poem — great addition to the thread. Off to work.


    What??? He’s yelling at the nurses???:-)


    As Rich O, said, early in the thread: “You leave the author’s words alone.”

  69. Yelling at the Nurses?

    Oh well, it’s a start.

    Just wait till he starts CHASING the Nurses.

    Then you’ll know he’s on the mend!

  70. Why the n-word should stay in ‘Huck Finn’

    By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

    8:31 AM on 01/05/2011

    “New South Books press people had barely sent word out that the editors would remove any mention of the n-word from their upcoming edition of Mark Twain’s immortal classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when the backlash began. Critics are calling it censorship, a slap at freedom of speech, and a gross distortion of Twain’s intent. Twain’s goal was to show the ugliness an evilness of slavery and to do that he had to use the rawest racist language of his day. This guaranteed that the book and the language he used would sooner or later draw anger and protests. It’s certainly had its colossal share of both over the years.”

  71. While we’re on the subject of literature–did any of you hear Michael Steele’s response when asked what his favorite book was at a recent RNC event?

  72. Someone mentioned the “Kings’s Speech”. It did not merit the “R” rating as the use of the f word was part of the therapy. It is an excellent movie for those under 17 and everyone else also.

  73. RE: Maaarrghk! comment of January 6, 2011 at 1:48 am, to wit:


    Can some of you please stop using the term “n word”.

    I find it offensive.”

    Were I capable of being offended by other people, other people’s beliefs, other people’s actions, or how some other people act as though to treat me as though I were more evil than infinitely more evil than all the evil that would be possible to imagine, and I am incapable of being offended because I was given, as practical way of moment-by-moment living, to forgive every trace of what might be deemed wrongdoing that ever comes into my awareness, I would not believe or act as I do.

    I do not deceive people. Yet I find myself in a world in which all human languages I have learned anything about appear to me, and perhaps to no one else, to share a common property. That property is as though language has the property of giving people no way to other than misunderstand one another as each person misunderstands self.

    Were I to have the talent of being offendable, and further to have the talent of being able to be offended by words, among the most offensive words I would find I have ever experienced, offensive infinitudes beyone utterly unconscionable, would be the word “n-word.” Among all words I remember right now, the word, ‘n-word” tops my list of words I would deem offensive were I able to find any offensive words whatsoever.

    So, being familiar with Morse Code (took the 13 word per minute code test before an FCC field engineer in the Dirksen building n Chicago in 1962), I can be even more offensive to those who are offensively offendable, because I shall name said word the “dah-dit_word” and we can enhance our denial of abuse, terror, hatefulness and societal destruction even more than before. Only, you will have to leave me out of that sort of society.

    I shall use, out of consideration for the deceived, “dah-dit_word” because I am sensitive to the concerns of other people. I apologize for being autistic, I apologize for having been sperm and egg and they a zygote. I apologize for undertaking the first cell division and then committing the social atrocity of becoming a blastula.

    I apologize for keeping the hollow, fluid-filled interior of my blastula stage in the form of cerebral ventricles, and I apologize for that because keeping hollow, fluid-filled spaces from when I was a hollow blastula led to my having the brain I have, profoundly defective as I allow it is.

    What is my brain defect? It is simple. The brain cells needed for me to criticize and find fault with people were supposed to divide from other cells along the way, but that one, absolutely critical cell division is as though it never happened. Part of my brain is obviously missing, the “find fault with people” cells, having never formed through normal cell division, are, in my horridly defective brain, a hollow, fluid filled space bereft of neurons, synapses, and connections.

    I have within my collected medical records the observation of my having “enlarged ventricles” as found with computerized axial tomography. For real. No joke.

    I have a quantitative electroencephalogram printout which can be rather well summarized in but a few words, “markedly abnormal spatial incoherence.” I am not the only person to show up on this planet with brain parts missing. The late Kim Peek, on whose life the movie, “Rain Man” was partly based, came to birth with agenesis of the corpus callosum. In this world, I am not alone in having a brain which statistical measures of central tendency may lead people who have all the usual brain structures to deem worse than cancer.

    There are people who are rather like me, from time to time I meet such a person. The rate is in the range of one in a thousand. Such a person is typically an electronics engineer who has done successful “RF design.”

    I ask questions, because I know not how to not ask. One question I have asked, in an attempt to use language others believe can be understood, “What is the square root of 4?” This question stops perhaps a third the adults I have asked, who ponder it for a while, and tell me they don’t know.

    The successful RF design engineers seem always to tell me, in effect, “I cannot answer that question; no one can!” They have the mathematics correct. Almost everyone else says, “Two,” which is wrong, as people sufficiently skilled at mathematics know and understand.

    The reason it is impossible to answer, “What is the square root of 4,” is because of a fallacy inherent in so asking, to wit, the notion that any number has a (meaning exactly one) square root. Every actual number has exactly two square roots, asking a false question is of deception.

    Two square roots? I obviously need a better mathematics teacher…

    Only, the question as to whether there are two square roots of actual numbers, and not only one, is a testable, in-principle-refutable hypothesis. And the evidence is thus:

    In base 10 arithmetic, 2 times 2 equals 4. Alas, there are actual negative numbers, so, for clarity I shall restate that equation. “Positive 2” times “Positive 2” equals “Positive 4”.

    Run, Run, here comes the Brian. What about the following equation, “Negative 2” times “Negative 2” equals “Positive 4”? That math works for me. How about you?

    Oh, Oh, Run, run, here comes the Brian with the missing brain parts. Every actual number has two square roots. “Negative 4” is an actual number, what are its two square roots?

    All the successful RF electronics engineers answer correctly, without, to me, observable delay. So have all the college math majors I have ever asked. Yet many Ph.D. level people who avoided science and mathematics better than any plague, have as though stopped in their tracks. People who as though hold in contempt hard science and mathematics typically tell me that “Negtive 4” has no square roots.

    But there may be a contrast between something existing and a particular person or group of persons being aware of the existence of said something. When people believe that their unawareness of something which exists means that the something which exists does not exist because it does not exist in their reality-model, I start to conjecture about the possibility of existence being greater than any possible human mental model of existence, and I fall, topsy-turvey, into the bottomless horror of existential philosophy.

    Perhaps a simpler mathematics problem would be useful. What are the square roots of “Negative 1”? Suppose I make a guess: “Negative 1” times “Positive 1” equals “Negative 1” and the answer is simple; or is it? Remember your Montessori School number line? “Negative 1” and “Positive 1” are separated by “Negative 2” or by “Positive 2,” depending in which way along the number line you happen to be hiking.

    The square root of a number is that number, which, multiplied by itself, equals its square. Sorry, “Negative 1” ain’t “Positive 1” – oops!

    I arrived in this world with another brain defect, sometimes named “imagination.” Unlike “normal people,” I never outgrew imagination.

    Neither did some mathematicians, who imagined the square root of “Negative 1” to be as real a number as any other number, and needed to give it a name. Having imagined a name, the name given was “imaginary.” Alas, imagination is real; albeit not all that may be imagined may ever be real because it is possible to imagine what is impossible, and, with imagination, to confuse or interchange, only in imagination, what is real and what is unreal. So, I must be unreal?

    Among us electrical engineer idiots, lower case “j” became the symbol often used for the square root of “Negative 1” – such that “Positive j” times “Positive j” equals “Negative 1” and the problem of imagining the two square roots of “Negative 1” is solved with one more equation, to wit, “Negative j” times “Negative j” equals “Negative 1”

    So, “Positive 2j” times “Positive 2j” equals “Negative 4” and “Negative 2j” times “Negative 2j” equals “Negative 4” and so the square roots of “Negative 4” are “Positive 2j” and “Negative 2j”…

    Changing the name of something named changes not the something named. Electrical engineers had assigned lower case “i” as the symbol for electrical current, as in Ohm’s Law, where “Voltage” equals “current” times “resistance, or in symbolic form, e=i*r.

    Mathematicians not working professionally with electrical current happily used lower case “i” as their symbol for the positive square root of “Negative 1″…

    I freely admit to having done, and apologize for doing another silly bit of pedantic pedagogy. What of the story of the educator who was fired as a pervert for using the word “pedagogy”?

    Everyone on this blawg already knew of the j-operator as an aspect of applied mathematical laws? Sorry, before I was nine, I did not know much about it; but I am an autistic slow-learner.

    The meaning of “n-word” is the meaning of “dah-dit_word” is the meaning of “nigger” in my brain. By what right would I accord someone else the right to steal my life from me by turning a term of endearment into something forbidden.

    In my mind, in my brain, the word, “nigger” is applicable to such people as, when treated with derision, lynchings, utter contempt, and atrocities far worse, respond with forgiveness and decency.

    Of course, those who treat other people with derision, lynchings, utter contempt, and atrocities far worse may resent forgiveness and decency, else they, too, would act with forgiveness and decency.

    I came not into this world for my life to be stolen.

  74. Left something out that I had intended to include.

    I recall a comment about my using the “dah-dit_word” as though for shock value. I had no such intent, for neither words nor their meanings shock or offend me. People do not offend me. People’s actions do not offend me. Words, meanings, and actions come with being a living human. Why would being human shock me?

    I do know what it is to experience shock. I was four, we lived on Ferdinand Street, in Seattle. In the living room was a floor lamp, three 60 Watt individual Edison-base bulbs and a top-center “3-way” 100-200-300 Watt Mogul-base bulb. That floor lamp, with wiring and plug replaced, is our main living room reading lamp, but with compact fluorescent replacements for the original incandescent bulbs.

    One day, I contemplated electricity, having read about it in a thin book done by the University of Chicago Laboratory School. I decided to learn about electrical plugs, and pulled on the plug to see if it would come loose.

    Whoever wired the plug, however, had not installed the plug according to proper wiring standards. There was no Underwriter’s knot to serve as a strain-relief, and the screws were not tightened according to established torque standards. My fingers slipped off the plug body and onto the cord, and the cord pulled out of the plug. The wires had been stripped bare for almost twice the proper distance, so bare wires touched my fingers before they fully disconnected from the metal parts of the plug.

    I know what a shock is.

    I do not use words with the intent that they shock people.

  75. You’ve lost me there Brian.

    Guess that’s why you have a PHd and I don’t.

    My comment was a light hearted one – a dig at the “politically correct”.

    It may be that this is my British sense of humour and may be lost on you, not translating as such so well on a written blog as it would do as speach.

    Out of interest, do you find your condition effects how you see humour?

  76. Elaine M.:Welcome back.

    “Elaine M. 1, January 5, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    IMO, no one has the right to change the words of an author. Twain wrote a book that reflected the times in which the story was set. Are we supposed to accept the sanitization of great works of literature because they make some people feel uncomfortable? ”

    From my above post,check out the link:

    ‘eniobob 1, January 6, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Why the n-word should stay in ‘Huck Finn’

    By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

    8:31 AM on 01/05/2011″

  77. “The book is an anti-racist book and to change the language changes the power of the book,” said Cindy Lovell, executive director of The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri.

    “He wrote to make us squirm and to poke us with a sharp stick. That was the purpose,” she told Reuters news agency.

    The novel has often been criticised for its language and characterisations and it is reported to be the fourth most banned book in US schools.

    The “N-word” appears 219 times in the story.

    Professor Gribben, who teaches English at Auburn University Montgomery in Alabama, said he had given many public readings of Twain’s books – and that when he replaced the word with “slave”, audiences were more comfortable.
    Continue reading the main story

    He said he wanted more people, especially younger people, to be encouraged to read the novel.

    “It’s such a shame that one word should be a barrier between a marvellous reading experience and a lot of readers,” he said.

    But the idea has been condemned by other scholars, teachers, writers and rights activists.

    “Trying to erase the word from our culture is profoundly, profoundly wrong,” said Randall Kennedy, a Harvard Law School professor.

    Dr Sarah Churchwell, a lecturer on American literature, told the BBC that it made a mockery of the story.

    “It’s about a boy growing up a racist in a racist society who learns to reject that racism, and it makes no sense if the book isn’t racist,” she told BBC World Service’s Newshour programme. “You can’t make the history of racism in America go away.”

    Power of words

    Twain himself was very particular about his words.

    He is quoted as saying that “the difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter”.

    And when a printer made punctuation changes to A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Twain wrote later that he had “given orders for the typesetter to be shot without giving him time to pray”.

  78. “Twain himself was very particular about his words.”

    I believe (and am sure I’ll be corrected if wrong) that the n-word no longer has the same connotation that it did in Twain’s day, and the mere use of the word (by anyone other than people of color) is now a sign that the user is racist . If so, and accepting what others say that Twain’s intent was to skewer racism, would he have used the word if he were alive and writing the book today? (Or, if the word had today’s connotation when the book was written, would he have used it?)

  79. Here’s an excerpt from Katherine Paterson’s “Cultural Politics from a Writer’s Point of View.” It was originally published in The New Advocate (Spring 1994). It was later reprinted in the book “Only Connect: Readings on Children’s Literature” (Third Edition, 1996). I assigned it as required reading for my children’s literature course.

    In the piece, Paterson, an award-winning children’s author, wrote about writers and censorship. She talks about Ray Bradbury and his book “Fahrenheit 451”:

    Ray Bradbury makes this point better than I. He takes the occasion to speak out against would-be censors from the left and the right in a coda written in 1979 for a new edition of his 1950 classic “Fahrenheit 451.” In this coda, Bradbury relates all the well-intentioned suggestions which he has received over the years from critics who wish he would make his various works more acceptable for today’s readers. Anyone who has read this particular book will immediately see the irony here. “Fahrenheit 451” is the temperature required to burn a book, and Bradbury’s book is the definitive fictional treatment of censorship. It escapes being labeled propaganda through powerful characterization and a point of view that manages to offend everyone who is against censorship but thinks a little tinkering with somebody else’s books is justified if the cause is good enough. And one’s own cause always is.

    Bradbury laments all the chopping and changing that earnest but misguided editors inflict on books in order to prevent them from offending anyone. And he concludes with this exhortation:

    “All you umpires, back to the bleachers. Referees, hit the showers. It’s my game. I pitch, I hit, I run the bases. At sunset I’ve won or lost. At sunrise, I’m out again, giving it the good old try.

    “And no one can help me. Not even you.”

    Paterson also wrote that the contents of her books are her responsibility. She said that she tries to be sensitive to the feelings of others—but claims that her first responsibility is to the story she is writing. She said she tries to come as close to the truth as she possibly can.

    Authors like Twain and Paterson attempt/attempted to depict the real world–not the world as we would like it to be. Some of the greatest works of adult and children’s literature have been highly challenged books.

    From the American Library Association:

    Banned and Challenged Classics

    Top ten most frequently challenged books of 2009

  80. RE:

    “Out of interest, do you find your condition effects how you see humour?”

    Life would be a joke were it no so serious that it can only be joked about.

    I am able to understand both humor and humor, just as I am able to understand math and maths.

    It is one thing to understand something and another to tell what is understood.

    I live my life as though I am an improv method actor in the theatre of the surd.

    Autistic humour? The “dah-dit_word”?

    You may call me anything, including late to dinner.

    When the symbol becomes as though what it symbolizes, so that what is symbolized is inconsequential, I find myself living in a joke world, the joke being that the joke is purely imaginary.

    When the trauma of people who have been denigrated by racist hatred becomes symbolized by a trauma-describing word and the trauma ignored, with only the symbol remaining in the public consciousness, then when the symbol itself is also erased from the public consciousness, to me, it is as though the people and their lives have been retroactively deleted.

    In such a world, I shall not abide.

    I have long observed that some people are as though incapable of accepting and understanding the traumas of their own lives, while being unable to totally erase said traumas. For such folks, doing the best possible in their actual life circumstances, pretending away the traumas of other people may be the only form of mercy to be found. With such folks, I find no fault, as I find no fault with anyone.

    Of course, I allow that my not finding any fault with any person, regardless of the details of the person’s life, may cause people “to blow fuses” if they were taught to blame themselves for not knowing what they were never given the actual chance to learn; and struggle with such inner trauma as to hate by projection anyone who has been able to assimilate trauma without denying it or passing it on.

    So, the way in which I am autistic would, were I to openly show how I understand the tragicomedy of humanity, plausibly soon end the comedy that I herewith live. So, I play the fool, as any court jester seeking survival surely does. My being a fool makes that role so easy for me; it comes naturally…

    Yes, my sense of humour may be so subtle that even I don’t get it. On reflecting into the depths of my being, I find that my hidden (especially from me) intent may have been to model the absurdity of taking away a purportedly offensive word as though so doing would take away the actual offence of racial hatred.

    Seriously, seriously really, thanks for asking.

    On! Why does my computer spell checker keep telling me that I have misspelled “humour” and “offence” and “theatre”?

    Now, I can understand my computer’s objecting to “dah-dit” because that is an offensive letter.

    So, I live in Door Couty, in the State of Wiscosi, in the Ited States of America, ad, like others who live i the Orth America Cotiet. I am a America. Like those other Orth Americas, who live in Caada or in Estados Uidos Mexicaos…

    Where are the pliers? I eed to remove that offecive key from my computer keyboard.

    Forgive my offecive use of the dah-dit word opely just this oce. Imagie how much better life will be when parents can ever say “No!” ever agai, but merely say O to their icalcitrat childre.

    Better yet, why keep letters at all? Lets get rid of all of them. Without letters to spell words, would any words still exist? Without words, would we be without error?

    Perhaps I will fit the future better, a future that people live without thoughts shared with words; without the errors words impart? Easy for me to write without the “dah-dit” letter, but hard for others to read what is so wrote?

  81. Maaarrghk!
    1, January 6, 2011 at 1:48 am

    Can some of you please stop using the term “n word”.

    I find it offensive.


    I got your humor and thought it was pretty clever:)


    My hubby wouldn’t dare chase a nurse … if he caught one, the shock would kill him!

  82. Sometimes my “straight-man” to “straight-man” humor stumbles into a bottomless pit. Pity that.

    I hoped my response to

    “Can some of you please stop using the term “n word”.

    I find it offensive.”

    might make it moreso noticed…

    besides, it is mis-spelled.

    I never learnt my ebonics very good, but the correct spelling is, as I learnt:


    Not that it matters, and perhaps I am mistaken.

    Bedtime. Let’s went.

  83. Thanks for sharing your most excellent sense of humour with me Brian.

    But alas, the hyphen is an endangered species and I must do what I can to save the last few from being used up in useless phrases like “n word” as I now prefer to spell it, (purely in the interests of conservation).

    Blouise. If I were to catch a Nurse, my wife would kill her. Believe me, that would make Nursey the lucky one out of the two of us.

  84. Maaarrghk!
    1, January 7, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Blouise. If I were to catch a Nurse, my wife would kill her. Believe me, that would make Nursey the lucky one out of the two of us.


    Are you suggesting she could teach Dick Cheney a thing or two about torture? I say that positively for I know I could!

  85. I find the movement to edit Mark Twain’s classic work, Huckleberry Finn very offensive and morally wrong for multiple reasons. Firstly, it is disrespectful and disgraces the author, obstructing his original intellect on the time and altering the writing of a man who is not alive to defend himself or his choice of words. Also, use of the N word in classic Southern literature, while it may be offensive to some, particularly African Americans, it is an essential aspect of human history. It is important that we understand how far our society has come and how we have changed. It is important that we not forget the past, lest we make the same blunders in the future. Books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn teach us about our past, something that is so very vital to our world today; you can’t change it. You can only learn from it, and it is best that that time is portrayed as accurately as possible.

  86. I don’t think they should sugarcoat this word. What about other hurtful words for other people? Soon it will be an excuse to change what shouldn’t be changed. Also, if kids aren’t taught that this word is bad, they won’t know in the future: I would hate to see people use the n word in the future, we need to learn from our mistakes. What if this book was written by an African American man? Would that make a difference?

  87. Well put Kristy and no your not wrong at all as your opinion is just as valid as anyone’s , never forget that. The word was in the story that was written for the times and what it was meant. it something that in my opinion should be left as it is as if its changed then it alters the reality of the story. You don’t change art because because its art and if its offensive don’t look. Same holds true for books. You have to understand that when it was written and the import behind it and how it was accepted. There is much more out there that is offensive in so many ways that far out strip anything that Mark Twain ever wrote..Go after that and leave the classics alone as history is history, what we did and why for the time and not to be changed to suite what we think today, as then its no longer becomes valid history but history to suit our thinking which is wrong on so many levels.

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