Jan. 9th, 2011

langwidere: the everything is terrible logo (everything really is terrible)
For some reason — and despite the fact that it is officially the Future, now — we are entering a new ring of the never-ending Circus of Hurrrr! that is the perpetual attempts by various idiots to censor Huckleberry Finn. The latest assault has been launched, apparently, by some sort of professor or something — and they must not be making professors like they used to when I was a kid, because all my English professors were a minimum of 113 years old and they could not have been persuaded, ever, singly or as a group and even upon pain of death, to strike so much as one unnecessary "as" out of the Introduction to Grammatical Principles. Which is what God intended them to do; professors profess, they do not edit for fucking content. But, whatever. Look the story up yourself, it gives me an unwieldy and massive sad.

I understand that people don’t want to look at the word "nigger." I don’t want to look at the word "nigger," either — but, you know, probably the best way to stop being forced to look at the word "nigger" over and over is to make as many people as possible read Huckleberry Finn, unaltered and unabridged. Censorship, no matter how noble its intentions, doesn’t change history. (This is what we’ve been trying to tell Texas all along, you guys. You’re setting a bad example.)

What are we gonna take out next? The bigwords? The prejudicial representations of white Southern characters? The unvarnished portrayal of the horrifying effects of ignorance and poverty? Twain’s loathing for the British aristocracy? References to smallpox? And witchcraft? Should we turn Huckleberry into a middle-class female child, maybe? And Jim into her speech therapist? Because you can de-nigger the shit out of the book if it makes you feel better about yourself and your worthless white ancestors, but I want to see what’s left when you’ve gotten rid of all the rest of the objectionable content.

Because that’s what Huckleberry Finn is, you know: It is a novel-length objection to America, and to mankind. It is a perfectly-shaped literary weapon of perfectly-placed hatred and grief and rage. And as far as I’m concerned, if you touch so much as one comma, for any reason, you are Hitler.

As an American citizen, you are not allowed to hide from your own fucking history. If it’s so bad that you have to edit it to be able to stomach it, the primary problem is not the word "nigger," or any word at all, actually. The problem is that you are a fucking coward who has confused being offended with being injured. The word "nigger" didn’t make it into Huckleberry Finn by accident. It is not an embarrassing defect of Huck’s patois. Twain wanted you to read the book and squirm. He wanted you, the reader, to see how civilization turns every man that fits into it and keeps his head down and follows the rules and goes to church and believes in the importance of hard work and community spirit into a slave-owner or a murderer or an even worse variety of monster. You, the reader, are supposed to be appalled by the word "nigger." You are supposed to be appalled by American culture. You are supposed to be appalled by the vicious, conventional evils of humankind. You are supposed to be appalled by yourself.

You ought to crawl out of that book, heavy-hearted, burdened with all of Twain’s fatal sorrow and endless anger, and with some of your own to boot — and if you can’t or you don’t, then you might as well censor not just "nigger," but every other word in the English language. None of them will ever do you any good, anyway.

Cf.