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Posts

  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Deebaser wrote: »
    agentk13 wrote: »
    You don't make racism better by pretending it doesn't happen.

    So if you removed the n-word from Huck Finn, clearly, there would be no racism in it.

    Of course there would be. So we should probably go edit that out too lest they be offended.

    And Agent, everything I asked you to prove is a claim you and Fartacus have made.

    You gave three claims, two of which were negative, with the remaining claim being made only by Farticus.

    you're joking, right? Please tell me you're joking...
    You don't really think "It's impossible to prove a negative" means it is impossible to prove/disprove a statement that has "not" in it.

    Yeah it had me laughing.

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  • SchrodingerSchrodinger Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Then make sure the kids know it was different back then.

    Doesn't the fact that black people were enslaved already sort of imply that?

    You're saying that Huck needs to use the N-word to establish that using the n-word WASsocially acceptable. That's precisely the message that some people want to avoid.

    Part of the purpose behind reading the book is to illuminate history. The entire conflict between "he's a decent guy" and "He's a runaway N----" is half the damn book. the more uncomfortable the reader feels the better, because that entire era of american history is so vile, and we do too good of a job washing over how terrible it was.

    As someone asked earlier:

    When are we going to dub over Roots?

    http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showpost.php?p=17869993&postcount=467

  • SchrodingerSchrodinger Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Here's the underlying question: Can people be racist without using the n-word?

    If your answer is "yes," then the removal of the n-word from Huck Fin might actually be productive. Because you train people to recognize more subtle forms of racism.

    If your answer is "no," then the removal of the n-word is a horrible travesty, because by taking away the n-word, you're implying that the characters can't be racist. Which they clearly were.

    The second position is pushed into the public in many other ways. A GOP Senate candidate can refer to a colored camera man as "macaca" to his face, but he didn't use the n-word, so it's okay! Tea Party people hold up signs depicting Obama as a witch doctors with bones in his nose, but no n-word, so they're not racist.

  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited January 2011
    Then make sure the kids know it was different back then.

    Doesn't the fact that black people were enslaved already sort of imply that?

    You're saying that Huck needs to use the N-word to establish that using the n-word WASsocially acceptable. That's precisely the message that some people want to avoid.

    Part of the purpose behind reading the book is to illuminate history. The entire conflict between "he's a decent guy" and "He's a runaway N----" is half the damn book. the more uncomfortable the reader feels the better, because that entire era of american history is so vile, and we do too good of a job washing over how terrible it was.

    As someone asked earlier:

    When are we going to dub over Roots?

    MY NAME IS JEFFREY JACKSON

    Wqdwp8l.png
  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited January 2011
    Deebaser wrote: »
    agentk13 wrote: »
    You don't make racism better by pretending it doesn't happen.

    So if you removed the n-word from Huck Finn, clearly, there would be no racism in it.

    Of course there would be. So we should probably go edit that out too lest they be offended.

    And Agent, everything I asked you to prove is a claim you and Fartacus have made.

    You gave three claims, two of which were negative, with the remaining claim being made only by Farticus.

    you're joking, right? Please tell me you're joking...
    You don't really think "It's impossible to prove a negative" means it is impossible to prove/disprove a statement that has "not" in it.

    Yeah it had me laughing.

    That would work if I had bolded every use of "not", rather than the spots where you ask me to prove that something "does not' (those are the exact words I bolded, not simply "not") happen. That the definition of a request to prove the negative.

    Of course, if you're in earnest and not simply trying to dodge again, you'd be willing to propose a way I can prove my alleged claims, just as I've given a way you can prove your claims. I've already asked you for such a proposition, a request that you've chosen to ignore, so I'm not expecting much from you.

  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited January 2011
    i guess i feel like a major point of Huckleberry Finn is the contrast between the virtue of Jim and the way he's routinely dehumanized by words and beyond. Like, his rough treatment was Twain's central point of writing that book, and it was a centrally important book specifically for that reason.

    i don't object strongly to a revised version of the book being peddled for specific purposes so much as i resent the attitude that it needs to be sanitized. slavery was an abhorrant institution and its aftermath nearly as bad. cleaning up these one or two terms in a novel of the time i feel robs the work of some of its impact and importance without really serving a good purpose IMO.

    Wqdwp8l.png
  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Isn't a major theme that Huck is basically an indoctrinated racist who learns to see people for who they are instead of as a blanket stereotype? So he's gotta actually act ignorant and racist in order for that to be something he has to overcome? Why the hell would you censor THAT just to give solace to the idiots who censored the book to begin with? Stupid.

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  • CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    He wasn't using the n-word because he was racist. He was using it because he grew up in the middle of bumfuck nowhere.

  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Couscous wrote: »
    He wasn't using the n-word because he was racist. He was using it because he grew up in the middle of bumfuck nowhere.

    Yeah - that's still indoctrinated racism.

    This just brings up racist words vs. racist intent.

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  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Then make sure the kids know it was different back then.

    Doesn't the fact that black people were enslaved already sort of imply that?

    You're saying that Huck needs to use the N-word to establish that using the n-word WASsocially acceptable. That's precisely the message that some people want to avoid.

    Part of the purpose behind reading the book is to illuminate history. The entire conflict between "he's a decent guy" and "He's a runaway N----" is half the damn book. the more uncomfortable the reader feels the better, because that entire era of american history is so vile, and we do too good of a job washing over how terrible it was.

    As someone asked earlier:

    When are we going to dub over Roots?
    Well, one differences is that in Roots, you identify with the black characters, where as in Huck Finn, you identify with the white characters.

    The other difference is that reading is an active medium, where as film is an passive medium.

    So if you're a black kid, it's probably a lot more disturbing to read from the perspective of a nice white kid casually referring to black people as the n-word, as opposed to Roots, where the person using the n-word are clearly depicted as monsters.

    Now, this has another affect. Which is that it convinces people that non-monsters are non-racist. Ron Paul writes racist newsletters, but he's never been recorded using the N-word, so it's okay. Which is why you also need to teach that, "Hey, people can still be racist even if they don't use the n-word." Or, you focus on the fact that racism can appear in subtle.

    But if it is disturbing to at least 1 black student, shouldn't it be redone? Thats basically the argument, that this one word is so inherently damaging, and that an individuals students comfort so tantamount that it must be stricken from the record.

  • DeebaserDeebaser Lead Frog Rammer Fake Board GamerRegistered User regular
    edited January 2011
    agentk13 wrote: »
    Deebaser wrote: »
    agentk13 wrote: »
    You don't make racism better by pretending it doesn't happen.

    So if you removed the n-word from Huck Finn, clearly, there would be no racism in it.

    Of course there would be. So we should probably go edit that out too lest they be offended.

    And Agent, everything I asked you to prove is a claim you and Fartacus have made.

    You gave three claims, two of which were negative, with the remaining claim being made only by Farticus.

    you're joking, right? Please tell me you're joking...
    You don't really think "It's impossible to prove a negative" means it is impossible to prove/disprove a statement that has "not" in it.

    Yeah it had me laughing.

    That would work if I had bolded every use of "not", rather than the spots where you ask me to prove that something "does not' (those are the exact words I bolded, not simply "not") happen. That the definition of a request to prove the negative.

    Of course, if you're in earnest and not simply trying to dodge again, you'd be willing to propose a way I can prove my alleged claims, just as I've given a way you can prove your claims. I've already asked you for such a proposition, a request that you've chosen to ignore, so I'm not expecting much from you.

    wow....I was not expecting you to double down on that...

    OK. Forget SS said "prove" at all. What he's asking you to do is "support" (prove) the arguments you or fartacus (it really isn't important) are making.
    1) The use of the n-word detracts in a significant way from the learning experience for appropriately aged students.

    2) That changing the story to not offend people assuming 1 is true does not have a greater negative impact than positive.

    3) The use of the word "slave" is an appropriate substitution, in that it does not represent an undue change in the story or tone and accomplishes to goal of not offending anyone.


    SS didn't ask you to "prove a negative". That is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT thing. Here are some examples for future reference so you don't look silly:

    Prove that you aren't a child molestor.
    Prove that you aren't hiding $10,000,000 in the woods.
    Prove that you have never been to the moon.

    See the difference?

  • SchrodingerSchrodinger Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Irond Will wrote: »
    i guess i feel like a major point of Huckleberry Finn is the contrast between the virtue of Jim and the way he's routinely dehumanized by words and beyond. Like, his rough treatment was Twain's central point of writing that book, and it was a centrally important book specifically for that reason.

    i don't object strongly to a revised version of the book being peddled for specific purposes so much as i resent the attitude that it needs to be sanitized. slavery was an abhorrant institution and its aftermath nearly as bad. cleaning up these one or two terms in a novel of the time i feel robs the work of some of its impact and importance without really serving a good purpose IMO.

    And that's fine. The problem is that when you read a fictionalized account, you are conditioned to identify with the main character. So when the main character uses a set of language, you imagine yourself using that same language. Which, for a black person in the deep south, can be pretty unnerving.

    It's like the Seinfeld routine on the Discovery channel. When it's "gazelle" week, we identify with the gazelle, and try to use our speed to get away from the Lion. When it's "Lion" week, we identify with the Lion, and try to prevent the Gazelle from using it's speed.

  • CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    SkyGheNe wrote: »
    Couscous wrote: »
    He wasn't using the n-word because he was racist. He was using it because he grew up in the middle of bumfuck nowhere.

    Yeah - that's still indoctrinated racism.

    This just brings up racist words vs. racist intent.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N-word#North_American
    Among Anglophones, the word n-wordwas not always considered derogatory, because it then denoted “black-skinned”, a common Anglophone usage.[7] Nineteenth-century English (language) literature features usages of n-word without racist connotation, e.g. the Joseph Conrad novella The N-word of the 'Narcissus' (1897). Moreover, Charles Dickens and Mark Twain created characters who uttered the word as contemporary usage. Twain, in the autobiographic book Life on the Mississippi (1883), used the term within quotes, indicating reported usage, but used the term "negro" when speaking in his own narrative persona.[8]

  • SchrodingerSchrodinger Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    But if it is disturbing to at least 1 black student, shouldn't it be redone? Thats basically the argument, that this one word is so inherently damaging, and that an individuals students comfort so tantamount that it must be stricken from the record.

    Yeah, screw the sensitivities of black people. Why should their opinions on Huck Finn mean anything?

    I mean, you nailed the problem perfectly. Black people living in the deep South are too damned comfortable. People need to stop coddling them already.

  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Couscous wrote: »
    SkyGheNe wrote: »
    Couscous wrote: »
    He wasn't using the n-word because he was racist. He was using it because he grew up in the middle of bumfuck nowhere.

    Yeah - that's still indoctrinated racism.

    This just brings up racist words vs. racist intent.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N-word#North_American
    Among Anglophones, the word n-wordwas not always considered derogatory, because it then denoted “black-skinned”, a common Anglophone usage.[7] Nineteenth-century English (language) literature features usages of n-word without racist connotation, e.g. the Joseph Conrad novella The N-word of the 'Narcissus' (1897). Moreover, Charles Dickens and Mark Twain created characters who uttered the word as contemporary usage. Twain, in the autobiographic book Life on the Mississippi (1883), used the term within quotes, indicating reported usage, but used the term "negro" when speaking in his own narrative persona.[8]

    Yes, but in the novel Huck continually struggles with the ideas that everyone has always taught him about black people and how they should be treated vs. what he knows about Jim and how he is a human being.

    While many people will retreat to the idea that the n word was "just a word they used for black people," this is true in the same way that when I call someone Gay, it's "just a word used for flamboyant or effeminate" people.

    It's still derogatory and used negatively. It being a norm has little to do with whether it was offensive or not. This is perhaps why Mark Twain used Negro instead of the N word in his narrative. Clearly there was something negative about it.

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  • SchrodingerSchrodinger Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    1) The use of the n-word detracts in a significant way from the learning experience for appropriately aged students.

    2) That changing the story to not offend people assuming 1 is true does not have a greater negative impact than positive.

    3) The use of the word "slave" is an appropriate substitution, in that it does not represent an undue change in the story or tone and accomplishes to goal of not offending anyone.

    1) I didn't realize that the n-word stops being hateful to the black community with the onset of puberty.

    2) The burden of proof is for you to show the negative impact.

    3) The burden of proof is on you to show that there is a difference.

    If I say, "There is no meaningful difference between coke and pepsi," then the burden of proof is for you to show the difference. You could cite the results of the Pepsi challenge, or show statistics comparing levels of sweetness, or whatever. It's not on the other person to explain that there's not a meaningful difference. By definition, if the difference isn't meaningful, then it cannot be shown.

  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    But if it is disturbing to at least 1 black student, shouldn't it be redone? Thats basically the argument, that this one word is so inherently damaging, and that an individuals students comfort so tantamount that it must be stricken from the record.

    Yeah, screw the sensitivities of black people. Why should their opinions on Huck Finn mean anything?

    I mean, you nailed the problem perfectly. Black people living in the deep South are too damned comfortable. People need to stop coddling them already.

    I don't know if censoring something just because it makes people uncomfortable is exactly the best argument to put forward.

    Huck Finn isn't a propaganda piece put forward by the KKK last week...it's modern american literature.

    A lot of historically important documents and literature contains things that are very offensive - but reading them in a vacuum and consequently robbing them of that historical context is a really poor way of looking at something.

    Heart of Darkness contains a lot of offensive language, but I wouldn't remove it or soften it's blow by replacing it. We need to live with our history, not forget about it.

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  • SchrodingerSchrodinger Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    SkyGheNe wrote: »
    While many people will retreat to the idea that the n word was "just a word they used for black people," this is true in the same way that when I call someone Gay, it's "just a word used for flamboyant or effeminate" people.

    It's still derogatory and used negatively. It being a norm has little to do with whether it was offensive or not. This is perhaps why Mark Twain used Negro instead of the N word in his narrative. Clearly there was something negative about it.
    And now we've come full circle.

    It's not the word itself that matters, it's the intent. Which can still be taught to the classroom separate of the original text.

    And you realize that a lot of authors write characters who talk differently than they do, right? For instance, I don't think that George Lucas goes around talking like Yoda or Jabba the Hutt everywhere he goes.

  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited January 2011
    Deebaser wrote: »
    agentk13 wrote: »
    Deebaser wrote: »
    agentk13 wrote: »
    You don't make racism better by pretending it doesn't happen.

    So if you removed the n-word from Huck Finn, clearly, there would be no racism in it.

    Of course there would be. So we should probably go edit that out too lest they be offended.

    And Agent, everything I asked you to prove is a claim you and Fartacus have made.

    You gave three claims, two of which were negative, with the remaining claim being made only by Farticus.

    you're joking, right? Please tell me you're joking...
    You don't really think "It's impossible to prove a negative" means it is impossible to prove/disprove a statement that has "not" in it.

    Yeah it had me laughing.

    That would work if I had bolded every use of "not", rather than the spots where you ask me to prove that something "does not' (those are the exact words I bolded, not simply "not") happen. That the definition of a request to prove the negative.

    Of course, if you're in earnest and not simply trying to dodge again, you'd be willing to propose a way I can prove my alleged claims, just as I've given a way you can prove your claims. I've already asked you for such a proposition, a request that you've chosen to ignore, so I'm not expecting much from you.

    wow....I was not expecting you to double down on that...

    OK. Forget SS said "prove" at all. What he's asking you to do is "support" (prove) the arguments you or fartacus (it really isn't important) are making.
    1) The use of the n-word detracts in a significant way from the learning experience for appropriately aged students.

    2) That changing the story to not offend people assuming 1 is true does not have a greater negative impact than positive.

    3) The use of the word "slave" is an appropriate substitution, in that it does not represent an undue change in the story or tone and accomplishes to goal of not offending anyone.


    SS didn't ask you to "prove a negative". That is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT thing. Here are some examples for future reference so you don't look silly:

    Prove that you aren't a child molestor.
    Prove that you aren't hiding $10,000,000 in the woods.
    Prove that you have never been to the moon.

    See the difference?

    Other examples:
    Prove that changing the story to not offend people assuming 1 is true does not have a greater negative impact than positive.
    Prove that it does not represent an undue change in the story or tone and accomplishes to goal of not offending anyone.
    Prove that bigfoot does not exist.

    If I have to prove something is not the case or that something does not do something. In other words, the negative:
    noun
    16.
    a negative statement, answer, word, gesture, etc.: The ship signaled back a negative.
    17.
    a refusal of assent: to answer a request with a negative.
    18.
    the negative form of statement.

    Of course, if you think that my claims are positive, you should be able to propose a way to test them, just as I've proposed a way you could easily prove your claims.

  • CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Yes, but in the novel Huck continually struggles with the ideas that everyone has always taught him about black people and how they should be treated vs. what he knows about Jim and how he is a human being.

    While many people will retreat to the idea that the n word was "just a word they used for black people," this is true in the same way that when I call someone Gay, it's "just a word used for flamboyant or effeminate" people.

    It's still derogatory and used negatively. It being a norm has little to do with whether it was offensive or not. This is perhaps why Mark Twain used Negro instead of the N word in his narrative. Clearly there was something negative about it.
    But Huck doesn't use the n-word for non-black people. He just uses it to describe black people like a person would use gay to describe gay people.

    He would use Negro instead of the n-word because one was considered incorrect usage while the other was considered the proper usage for describing black people at the time in the same way a person would use ain't. Mark Twain generally used vernacular language with his characters but Twain not using the vernacular language didn't mean he thought all vernacular language was offensive.

    There isn't anything in the book to suggest that the use of the n-word was considered dehumanizing by Twain.

  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    SkyGheNe wrote: »
    While many people will retreat to the idea that the n word was "just a word they used for black people," this is true in the same way that when I call someone Gay, it's "just a word used for flamboyant or effeminate" people.

    It's still derogatory and used negatively. It being a norm has little to do with whether it was offensive or not. This is perhaps why Mark Twain used Negro instead of the N word in his narrative. Clearly there was something negative about it.
    And now we've come full circle.

    It's not the word itself that matters, it's the intent. Which can still be taught to the classroom separate of the original text.

    And you realize that a lot of authors write characters who talk differently than they do, right? For instance, I don't think that George Lucas goes around talking like Yoda or Jabba the Hutt everywhere he goes.

    If the word doesn't matter - then what is the point of changing it in the first place? You're literally changing the identity of the work in its original form, which I would argue is critical to understanding the world at that time and in that way the word is important to me. If it isn't to you, then why should it change?

    Also - your snark is noted, but you misinterpreted what I was saying. Clearly it was important enough for mark twain to distinguish how his protagonist would refer to black people and how he would refer to black people. The narrative voice is his voice, so choosing to say negro instead of the n word is a lot more significant than Lucas talking like Yoda.

    Not to mention that Lucas wasn't a voice or a narrator speaking over the movie in Star Wars.

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  • SchrodingerSchrodinger Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    SkyGheNe wrote: »
    But if it is disturbing to at least 1 black student, shouldn't it be redone? Thats basically the argument, that this one word is so inherently damaging, and that an individuals students comfort so tantamount that it must be stricken from the record.

    Yeah, screw the sensitivities of black people. Why should their opinions on Huck Finn mean anything?

    I mean, you nailed the problem perfectly. Black people living in the deep South are too damned comfortable. People need to stop coddling them already.

    I don't know if censoring something just because it makes people uncomfortable is exactly the best argument to put forward.

    Making people uncomfortable 0% of the time would be stupid.

    Making people uncomfortable 100% of the time would also be stupid.

    Apparently, things are determined on a case by case basis.

    In this case, the purpose of teaching Huck Finn is to encourage students to be more sensitive to black people. You can't teach people to be more sensitive to black people by being completely insensitive to black people.

    Suppose your town was named after a native American tribe and your school has a dancing Indian as a mascot. Some of the native Americans who go to that school object. What's the right move here?

    A few days ago, I read a CNN article about how ethnic cuisine has been corrupted by Americanization that removes the original health benefits of traditional diets, and then she goes on to suggest that Japanese cuisine can be healthier with brown rice and that Thai cuisine would be better if they stopped using coconut.

  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Not to derail this, but I mean, we aren't really talking about schools choosing to teach one version of Huck Finn over the other here, are we? I mean, aren't we really talking about schools teaching a slightly sanitized version of Huck Finn over them not teaching it at all? Isn't there some inherent value to the story that goes beyond the use of the n-word?

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Couscous wrote: »
    Yes, but in the novel Huck continually struggles with the ideas that everyone has always taught him about black people and how they should be treated vs. what he knows about Jim and how he is a human being.

    While many people will retreat to the idea that the n word was "just a word they used for black people," this is true in the same way that when I call someone Gay, it's "just a word used for flamboyant or effeminate" people.

    It's still derogatory and used negatively. It being a norm has little to do with whether it was offensive or not. This is perhaps why Mark Twain used Negro instead of the N word in his narrative. Clearly there was something negative about it.
    But Huck doesn't use the n-word for non-black people. He just uses it to describe black people like a person would use gay to describe gay people.

    He would use Negro instead of the n-word because one was considered incorrect usage while the other was considered the proper usage for describing black people at the time in the same way a person would use ain't. Mark Twain generally used vernacular language with his characters but Twain not using the vernacular language didn't mean he thought all vernacular language was offensive.

    There isn't anything in the book to suggest that the use of the n-word was considered dehumanizing by Twain.

    Thank you for clearing this up. To me - this makes it all that much more important that it is taught with its original verbage in an attempt to understand contemporary thought at the time. I kinda shudder when I mentally say the n word - and to see how dynamic the word has been has a power in my mind.

    Obviously people disagree, but whatever.

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  • ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I've never read it, but the substitution seems illogical. Why are they replacing a word, which describes race (static), with a word that describes social status (dynamic) and is race-neutral?

    Coloured and negro are old timey words for black people. What was wrong with those? They're offensive in the right context, but mostly harmless by themselves (unlike the original). Slave is not a synonym for black-skinned human, not in any thesaurus.

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  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    SkyGheNe wrote: »
    But if it is disturbing to at least 1 black student, shouldn't it be redone? Thats basically the argument, that this one word is so inherently damaging, and that an individuals students comfort so tantamount that it must be stricken from the record.

    Yeah, screw the sensitivities of black people. Why should their opinions on Huck Finn mean anything?

    I mean, you nailed the problem perfectly. Black people living in the deep South are too damned comfortable. People need to stop coddling them already.

    I don't know if censoring something just because it makes people uncomfortable is exactly the best argument to put forward.

    Making people uncomfortable 0% of the time would be stupid.

    Making people uncomfortable 100% of the time would also be stupid.

    Apparently, things are determined on a case by case basis.

    In this case, the purpose of teaching Huck Finn is to encourage students to be more sensitive to black people. You can't teach people to be more sensitive to black people by being completely insensitive to black people.

    Suppose your town was named after a native American tribe and your school has a dancing Indian as a mascot. Some of the native Americans who go to that school object. What's the right move here?

    A few days ago, I read a CNN article about how ethnic cuisine has been corrupted by Americanization that removes the original health benefits of traditional diets, and then she goes on to suggest that Japanese cuisine can be healthier with brown rice and that Thai cuisine would be better if they stopped using coconut.

    Like - I feel you and all - but I think literature is a bit different from the name of a Football team. I think a high school football team called "the scalpers" would be just as offensive as "the n_____". But that is a name for name's sake and could be changed to more accurately reflect not only our growth but our tolerance as a people. The name of a football team is not a component in a work of art either.

    I see literature as not only a great vehicle for introspection, but also a snapshot of a particular moment in time. I don't particularly agree with editing the language of a book simply because it makes us feel better, because it doesn't maintain that snapshots true and original form.

    If this means that Huck Finn isn't taught then so be it. We don't deserve to read it at that point (or we'll read it in college, where it stands to be appreciated more than sophomore year of high school).

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  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited January 2011
    I've never read it, but the substitution seems illogical. Why are they replacing a word, which describes race (static), with a word that describes social status (dynamic) and is race-neutral?

    Coloured and negro are old timey words for black people. What was wrong with those? They're offensive in the right context, but mostly harmless by themselves (unlike the original). Slave is not a synonym for black-skinned human, not in any thesaurus.

    At the time and in the context of the narrative and characters, the two were interchangeable. Even if you'd been born free, southerners of that era would still consider you to be of a slave race and only fit for slavery. The first alternative you you listed would be anachronistic in the period depicted and the latter would have been too formal for everyone but Tom.

  • SchrodingerSchrodinger Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    SkyGheNe wrote: »
    Couscous wrote: »
    Yes, but in the novel Huck continually struggles with the ideas that everyone has always taught him about black people and how they should be treated vs. what he knows about Jim and how he is a human being.

    While many people will retreat to the idea that the n word was "just a word they used for black people," this is true in the same way that when I call someone Gay, it's "just a word used for flamboyant or effeminate" people.

    It's still derogatory and used negatively. It being a norm has little to do with whether it was offensive or not. This is perhaps why Mark Twain used Negro instead of the N word in his narrative. Clearly there was something negative about it.
    But Huck doesn't use the n-word for non-black people. He just uses it to describe black people like a person would use gay to describe gay people.

    He would use Negro instead of the n-word because one was considered incorrect usage while the other was considered the proper usage for describing black people at the time in the same way a person would use ain't. Mark Twain generally used vernacular language with his characters but Twain not using the vernacular language didn't mean he thought all vernacular language was offensive.

    There isn't anything in the book to suggest that the use of the n-word was considered dehumanizing by Twain.

    Thank you for clearing this up. To me - this makes it all that much more important that it is taught with its original verbage in an attempt to understand contemporary thought at the time. I kinda shudder when I mentally say the n word - and to see how dynamic the word has been has a power in my mind.

    Obviously people disagree, but whatever.

    Twain uses the word because it's accurate for the era, just like George Lucas has Yoda talking in certain grammar because that's how the aliens of Yoda's species happen to talk.

    Now, there is some value of being accurate to the era as a writer. There is a lot of value about being accurate in terms of how we present history. But the problem is that some people are going to be more sensitive to history than others, because they're still dealing with the effects.

    For sheltered white people on the West Coast, it might be important to understand how common racism was in Mark Twain's time. Especially if you go to a private school where you rarely see a black person, much less a severely disadvantaged one. But what if you're a poor black in the deep South? In that case, you don't need to be "taught" that racism was common in Mark Twain's time, because you are still dealing with racism in the present tense.

    It's one thing to teach Mein Kampf as an important history lesson. But if one of the kids says, "My parents were survivors of the Holocaust, I really don't want to read this," are you seriously going to tell that kid to suck it up and that it's important for her to learn from history?

  • FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS
    edited January 2011
    Irond Will wrote: »
    i guess i feel like a major point of Huckleberry Finn is the contrast between the virtue of Jim and the way he's routinely dehumanized by words and beyond. Like, his rough treatment was Twain's central point of writing that book, and it was a centrally important book specifically for that reason.

    i don't object strongly to a revised version of the book being peddled for specific purposes so much as i resent the attitude that it needs to be sanitized. slavery was an abhorrant institution and its aftermath nearly as bad. cleaning up these one or two terms in a novel of the time i feel robs the work of some of its impact and importance without really serving a good purpose IMO.

    Again, I don't think the purpose is to "sanitize" and I think it is a good purpose to make sure black students are comfortable in a classroom where the book is being read. Alienating your students is a legitimate concern for an educator -- something that should be aggressively avoided. It hampers education, and it's also just sort of downright mean to not care.

    And, of course, Twain would not have thought that the N-word would have been a tool of dehumanization in his time -- certainly he would not have expected his audience to think so, since it had not yet become a pejorative. So, clearly Twain felt that his book sufficiently accomplished the task you're describing without the use of pejorative language to describe Jim (I mean, there is lots of pejorative language used against him, but you know what I'm trying to say).

    I think it's really just as simple as de-politicizing the book and making black students comfortable having it read in a classroom where they are a minority and likely hear the N-word already on a regular basis and don't need that to enter into what should be a welcoming and safe environment.

    But, of course, you can address this lots of other ways too that are probably better, like reading a book that wasn't written by a white guy in the first place.

  • SchrodingerSchrodinger Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    agentk13 wrote: »
    I've never read it, but the substitution seems illogical. Why are they replacing a word, which describes race (static), with a word that describes social status (dynamic) and is race-neutral?

    Coloured and negro are old timey words for black people. What was wrong with those? They're offensive in the right context, but mostly harmless by themselves (unlike the original). Slave is not a synonym for black-skinned human, not in any thesaurus.

    At the time and in the context of the narrative and characters, the two were interchangeable. Even if you'd been born free, southerners of that era would still consider you to be of a slave race and only fit for slavery. The first alternative you you listed would be anachronistic in the period depicted and the latter would have been too formal for everyone but Tom.

    When you read Shakespeare in HS, the most popular editions are the ones that have every other page explaining what certain terms meant during Shakespeare's time. Because it's really hard to understand the text otherwise.

    I imagine a similar scenario for Huck Finn. An intro that says, "Look, the original language was really offensive. You know the word they used, but we don't want to make that word seem acceptable in today's usage, so we're cutting it out. However, understand that when they used the word 'slave' in this new version, that's how they thought of all black people in general, not just the ones who were actually in slavery."

  • SchrodingerSchrodinger Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Fartacus wrote: »
    And, of course, Twain would not have thought that the N-word would have been a tool of dehumanization in his time -- certainly he would not have expected his audience to think so, since it had not yet become a pejorative. So, clearly Twain felt that his book sufficiently accomplished the task you're describing without the use of pejorative language to describe Jim (I mean, there is lots of pejorative language used against him, but you know what I'm trying to say).

    That's another important point.

    Black people in Mark Twain's time were taught that the N-word was acceptable. Therefore, when they heard the n-word, they assumed that it was okay. The term was meant as an insult, but since they often internalized the insult, it didn't affect them.

    Black people reading the book today have a very different reaction than black people who would have read it in Twain's time (assuming that they were allowed to read at all). When black people hear the n-word today, they know that it's not acceptable.

  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    SkyGheNe wrote: »
    Couscous wrote: »
    Yes, but in the novel Huck continually struggles with the ideas that everyone has always taught him about black people and how they should be treated vs. what he knows about Jim and how he is a human being.

    While many people will retreat to the idea that the n word was "just a word they used for black people," this is true in the same way that when I call someone Gay, it's "just a word used for flamboyant or effeminate" people.

    It's still derogatory and used negatively. It being a norm has little to do with whether it was offensive or not. This is perhaps why Mark Twain used Negro instead of the N word in his narrative. Clearly there was something negative about it.
    But Huck doesn't use the n-word for non-black people. He just uses it to describe black people like a person would use gay to describe gay people.

    He would use Negro instead of the n-word because one was considered incorrect usage while the other was considered the proper usage for describing black people at the time in the same way a person would use ain't. Mark Twain generally used vernacular language with his characters but Twain not using the vernacular language didn't mean he thought all vernacular language was offensive.

    There isn't anything in the book to suggest that the use of the n-word was considered dehumanizing by Twain.

    Thank you for clearing this up. To me - this makes it all that much more important that it is taught with its original verbage in an attempt to understand contemporary thought at the time. I kinda shudder when I mentally say the n word - and to see how dynamic the word has been has a power in my mind.

    Obviously people disagree, but whatever.

    Twain uses the word because it's accurate for the era, just like George Lucas has Yoda talking in certain grammar because that's how the aliens of Yoda's species happen to talk.

    Now, there is some value of being accurate to the era as a writer. There is a lot of value about being accurate in terms of how we present history. But the problem is that some people are going to be more sensitive to history than others, because they're still dealing with the effects.

    For sheltered white people on the West Coast, it might be important to understand how common racism was in Mark Twain's time. Especially if you go to a private school where you rarely see a black person, much less a severely disadvantaged one. But what if you're a poor black in the deep South? In that case, you don't need to be "taught" that racism was common in Mark Twain's time, because you are still dealing with racism in the present tense.

    It's one thing to teach Mein Kampf as an important history lesson. But if one of the kids says, "My parents were survivors of the Holocaust, I really don't want to read this," are you seriously going to tell that kid to suck it up and that it's important for her to learn from history?

    Yes, because I believe that some of the greatest lessons can be learned from things that make us feel uncomfortable. Sex makes us uncomfortable; very uncomfortable, to the point that my mother took me out of a sexual education class that would have taught me how to have protected sex with proper condom application. Obviously this isn't 100% analogous to your holocaust scenario, but it is in that it made both myself and the theoretical student uncomfortable, but would have been excellent lessons provided it was guided with a good teacher.

    I have read plenty of literature that offended me in the sense that I could not believe people behaved, said, and lived in a particular way. I'm half mexican, so on a personal level I can relate to this idea of racism being close to home, especially with the new Arizona immigration law and a recent appeal to make it so that natural born children of immigrants don't get citizenship. I find the term "anchor babies" offensive because it's being used today without shame. I do not find derogatory names for mexican's in literature or works of art written during an oppressively racist era as particularly offensive or threatening, especially since it isn't being used to push for a political agenda this very moment.

    If the issue is that we are teaching Huckleberry Finn in it's original form to children who are unable to piece it out as rational adults, then we need to teach it in their final years of high school where they can deal with the best and worst of that time, or scrap teaching the book altogether because of our lacking maturity levels.

    I also fail to understand why Huckleberry Finn gets singled out. If the issue is that the N word in and of itself is offensive, then strip it from every piece of literature out there, including roots. If the N word wasn't used in an offensive way back then, but we find it offensive now - then it should be, by logical extension, offensive in every context (oddly enough, due to the lack thereof).

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  • P10P10 An Idiot with Low IQ Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    It's one thing to teach Mein Kampf as an important history lesson. But if one of the kids says, "My parents were survivors of the Holocaust, I really don't want to read this," are you seriously going to tell that kid to suck it up and that it's important for her to learn from history?
    Night would be a much better example, because that's a book that is actually taught.

    And basically the entire point of reading Night is forcing the audience to confront the barbarity, the madness, the sheer villainy of the Holocaust. You aren't supposed to be comfortable reading the book.

    Huckleberry Finn, to me, is the same way.

  • Torso BoyTorso Boy Registered User
    edited January 2011
    agentk13 wrote: »
    I've never read it, but the substitution seems illogical. Why are they replacing a word, which describes race (static), with a word that describes social status (dynamic) and is race-neutral?

    Coloured and negro are old timey words for black people. What was wrong with those? They're offensive in the right context, but mostly harmless by themselves (unlike the original). Slave is not a synonym for black-skinned human, not in any thesaurus.

    At the time and in the context of the narrative and characters, the two were interchangeable. Even if you'd been born free, southerners of that era would still consider you to be of a slave race and only fit for slavery. The first alternative you you listed would be anachronistic in the period depicted and the latter would have been too formal for everyone but Tom.

    When you read Shakespeare in HS, the most popular editions are the ones that have every other page explaining what certain terms meant during Shakespeare's time. Because it's really hard to understand the text otherwise.

    I imagine a similar scenario for Huck Finn. An intro that says, "Look, the original language was really offensive. You know the word they used, but we don't want to make that word seem acceptable in today's usage, so we're cutting it out. However, understand that when they used the word 'slave' in this new version, that's how they thought of all black people in general, not just the ones who were actually in slavery."

    Supplementing text and altering it are not the same thing.

    Rent wrote: »
    So that's what having no idea what you are talking about looks like
  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Torso Boy wrote: »
    agentk13 wrote: »
    I've never read it, but the substitution seems illogical. Why are they replacing a word, which describes race (static), with a word that describes social status (dynamic) and is race-neutral?

    Coloured and negro are old timey words for black people. What was wrong with those? They're offensive in the right context, but mostly harmless by themselves (unlike the original). Slave is not a synonym for black-skinned human, not in any thesaurus.

    At the time and in the context of the narrative and characters, the two were interchangeable. Even if you'd been born free, southerners of that era would still consider you to be of a slave race and only fit for slavery. The first alternative you you listed would be anachronistic in the period depicted and the latter would have been too formal for everyone but Tom.

    When you read Shakespeare in HS, the most popular editions are the ones that have every other page explaining what certain terms meant during Shakespeare's time. Because it's really hard to understand the text otherwise.

    I imagine a similar scenario for Huck Finn. An intro that says, "Look, the original language was really offensive. You know the word they used, but we don't want to make that word seem acceptable in today's usage, so we're cutting it out. However, understand that when they used the word 'slave' in this new version, that's how they thought of all black people in general, not just the ones who were actually in slavery."

    Supplementing text and altering it are not the same thing.

    That is really, really key.

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  • SchrodingerSchrodinger Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    SkyGheNe wrote: »
    Yes, because I believe that some of the greatest lessons can be learned from things that make us feel uncomfortable.

    And black people in the deep south don't already have that?

    Jewish kids who's parents were survived the Holocaust won't understand that Hitler was a hateful bastard unless they personally read his manifesto?
    Sex makes us uncomfortable; very uncomfortable, to the point that my mother took me out of a sexual education class that would have taught me how to have protected sex with proper condom application. Obviously this isn't 100% analogous to your holocaust scenario, but it is in that it made both myself and the theoretical student uncomfortable, but would have been excellent lessons provided it was guided with a good teacher.

    No, a more appropriate example would be teaching sex education to a girl who was raped, pregnant, and miscarried when she was 12 years old, and explaining the dangers of unprotected sex. By asking her to read an account from a serial rapist.
    I have read plenty of literature that offended me in the sense that I could not believe people behaved, said, and lived in a particular way. I'm half mexican, so on a personal level I can relate to this idea of racism being close to home, especially with the new Arizona immigration law and a recent appeal to make it so that natural born children of immigrants don't get citizenship. I find the term "anchor babies" offensive because it's being used today without shame. I do not find derogatory names for mexican's in books written during a fairly racist and oppressive era as particularly offensive or threatening.

    Not all minorities feel the same way on everything.

  • FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS
    edited January 2011
    It's one thing to teach Mein Kampf as an important history lesson. But if one of the kids says, "My parents were survivors of the Holocaust, I really don't want to read this," are you seriously going to tell that kid to suck it up and that it's important for her to learn from history?
    Night would be a much better example, because that's a book that is actually taught.

    And basically the entire point of reading Night is forcing the audience to confront the barbarity, the madness, the sheer villainy of the Holocaust. You aren't supposed to be comfortable reading the book.

    Huckleberry Finn, to me, is the same way.

    Yes but you don't see controversy surrounding Night the way it surrounds Huck Finn. Maybe that's because it was written by a Holocaust survivor, maybe that's because of the language in the book -- there are different arguments you could make.

    The point is, all discomfort is not the same. Some of it is valuable, educationally, and some of it is not.

    So many people in this thread have acted like if we let anyone teach the edited version of Huck Finn, WHERE WILL WE STOP??!? but really I think a pretty good metric is "when there is organized, ongoing, sustained, and significant complaint by the affected group."

    It's a red-herring to talk about not teaching the Holocaust, or making kids confront bad stuff that happened in the past -- because oppressed groups are generally just fine with that. Jewish groups want people to confront and acknowledge the Holocaust. Black people want people to be aware of the evils of slavery and segregation.

    If people don't want to have to read a word that makes them not just uncomfortable -- but alienated or hurt, well that's not so unreasonable.

    And it's silly to think that members of oppressed groups are coddled or not made to confront these issues. They have to confront them constnatly.

  • SchrodingerSchrodinger Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    It's one thing to teach Mein Kampf as an important history lesson. But if one of the kids says, "My parents were survivors of the Holocaust, I really don't want to read this," are you seriously going to tell that kid to suck it up and that it's important for her to learn from history?
    Night would be a much better example, because that's a book that is actually taught.

    And basically the entire point of reading Night is forcing the audience to confront the barbarity, the madness, the sheer villainy of the Holocaust. You aren't supposed to be comfortable reading the book.

    Huckleberry Finn, to me, is the same way.

    Night is told from he perspective of a Holocaust Survivor.

    Huckleberry Finn is told from perspective of a rich white kid.

    There's a difference.

    If Night was told from the perspective of a random German who constantly used racial slurs to describe the Jews, it probably wouldn't be taught.

  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited January 2011
    SkyGheNe wrote: »
    Yes, because I believe that some of the greatest lessons can be learned from things that make us feel uncomfortable. Sex makes us uncomfortable; very uncomfortable, to the point that my mother took me out of a sexual education class that would have taught me how to have protected sex with proper condom application. Obviously this isn't 100% analogous to your holocaust scenario, but it is in that it made both myself and the theoretical student uncomfortable, but would have been excellent lessons provided it was guided with a good teacher.

    I have read plenty of literature that offended me in the sense that I could not believe people behaved, said, and lived in a particular way. I'm half mexican, so on a personal level I can relate to this idea of racism being close to home, especially with the new Arizona immigration law and a recent appeal to make it so that natural born children of immigrants don't get citizenship. I find the term "anchor babies" offensive because it's being used today without shame. I do not find derogatory names for mexican's in books written during a fairly racist and oppressive era as particularly offensive or threatening.

    If the issue is that we are teaching Huckleberry Finn in it's original form to children who are unable to piece it out as rational adults, then we need to teach it in their final years of high school where they can deal with the best and worst of that time, or scrap teaching the book altogether because of our lacking maturity levels.

    I also fail to understand why Huckleberry Finn gets singled out. If the issue is that the N word in and of itself is offensive, then strip it from every piece of literature out there, including roots. If the N word wasn't used in an offensive way back then, but we find it offensive now - then it should be, by logical extension, offensive in every context (oddly enough, due to the lack thereof).

    I call this line of thinking "it tastes bad so it must be good for you." There are lots of things that make people uncomfortable, and you don't see me infecting classes with giardia. Huck Finn is uncomfortable for various reasons, but the discomfort generated by the n-word wasn't intended by the author and has no artistic significance. It's window dressing.

  • DrukDruk Registered User
    edited January 2011
    SkyGheNe wrote: »
    Sex makes us uncomfortable; very uncomfortable, to the point that my mother took me out of a sexual education class that would have taught me how to have protected sex with proper condom application. Obviously this isn't 100% analogous to your holocaust scenario, but it is in that it made both myself and the theoretical student uncomfortable, but would have been excellent lessons provided it was guided with a good teacher.

    No, a more appropriate example would be teaching sex education to a girl who was raped, pregnant, and miscarried when she was 12 years old, and explaining the dangers of unprotected sex. By asking her to read an account from a serial rapist.

    So you're saying that the deep south is, right now, just the same as portrayed in Huck Finn?
    Or would a better example instead be teaching sex ed to the daughter of the girl you described?

This discussion has been closed.