In other news, To Kill a Mockingbird‘s ending is being changed so that Tom is acquitted and everyone goes out for ice cream, and a chaperone is being written into Lord of the Flies.
Okay, I was exaggerating about the last two, but they may not be far off, considering that a new version of Mark Twain’s American classic Huckleberry Finn is being edited to replace instances of the n-word with “slave,” as well as removal of- I am not kidding about this- the word “Injun.”
Reaction to the edits are controversial, sparking several editorials pointing out that without a record that rampant racism happened, we won’t have a record that rampant racism happened. Or, as eloquently summed up in the Washington Post:
It’s not about avoiding an awkward classroom moment, or they would have removed the word “ejaculate” from Victorian novels, where everybody is always ejaculating about everything… It would be like renaming 19842084, “because the current title does not reflect how pleasant life was under the Reagan administration.”
Jim Norton somewhat offensively described the move in such a way that it kind of highlights the white panic surrounding instances of the n-word in historical literature:
New editions of Huckleberry Finn will not have THE N WORD in it. Huck’s pal will now be called Talks-Loud-In-Movie-Theaters Jim.
What do you think? Can the work be edited in such a way and still be sold as an original version of this classic book? Is it cool to edit history like that? Is it more offensive to black people in general to pretend they were never regularly referred to as that word in polite society for most of American history?