M*SS*SS*PP*

Something missing in my title?  I’m probably gonna get myself in trouble for this, but I wonder who exactly this dingbatted move is supposed to benefit. Scholar Allan Gribben of Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama is set to publish a cleaned up version of one of America’s most beloved pieces of literature. Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” is about to hit the shelves with each one of the 219 instances of the “N” word being replaced with “slave”. Gribben says he is eliminating a word that is a clear barrier for many people. ‘Indian Joe’ will be the new name for ‘Injun Joe’ and ‘half-breed’ will henceforth be a more peaceable ‘half-blood’. Take note, Cher! 

I learned at a young age the word was bad and in the years since I don’t think I’ve said it once, not even in a quote from some other source. The closest I’ve come was actually saying “N-word”. You may think I’m full of it, but that kind of lesson kind of sticks with you. (Rubs hand across butt cheek) And nowadays, when just about everything you say has to be measured because even if someone is having a bad hair day and has a cowlick, the mere mention of it could be misconstrued as derogatory, the use of the N-word is even more a no-no, except within that particular community. How do you figure? So, how bad a word can it be? But, to each his own. (Just let me have mine as well.)

Editing the classic story would be like editing Michelangelo’s David and cutting off his nasty bits, (I know it’s been covered with a cloth is some cases) and to cite an example from the article I read about this entire literary travesty, to make things equal across the censorship board, you’d have to take out the adultery factor in “The Scarlet Letter” as well and then you have Hester Prynne wearing a red upper-case A on her chest. Must be for her middle name. Hmm, maybe it was Abigail.

I have to admit, and I think I mentioned this at the time, but when we saw the latest production of Lillian Hellmann’s “The Little Foxes” on the stage recently, the N word was used and it was a bit uncomfortable, as there were certain members of the audience who might have missed the historical value of such dialogue. Historical yes, because it depicts a time when this attitude was more the norm and we can only learn from the past. And if future generations miss out on the passion with which these works were created, (not to mention not knowing what not winning at a game is like) then they miss out on making up their own minds as to what is right and wrong, good and bad, tasteful or not and may as well stay cooped up in their cloistered MP3 generated worlds. And then what happens when little Johnny runs across his dear departed grandfather’s dusty old copy in some trunk in the attic one day, the one that is overflowing with the N-word, this curious odd word that nobody is around to explain what it is; well, unless Gribben also initiates a total seizure of volumes with original text.

Meanwhile, such golden nuggets as “Gia danced around a little, shaking her peaches for show. She shook it hard. Too hard. In the middle of a shimmy, her stomach cramped. A fart slipped out. A loud one. And stinky,” seem to be acceptable reading material. This taken from the much anticipated “A Shore Thing” by The Jersey Shore’s Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi. Hmm, on second thought, I guess that also reflects the times. Sad.  

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