Back in the 19th century, there was this guy who made serious bank re-writing Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet lived. The witches in Macbeth were — poof! — gone. Hamlet’s step-father learned the error of this ways, and all was forgiven. We read them now and laugh at their overly-protective sense of manner and decorum… even as we fail to see that he was doing then what others are doing right now.
The real BBW comes up later this month. When it happens, and you see folks getting upset about this or that book — either because it should be banned or because it shouldnt — just bear in mind what Doc said. We fear things because we already know what we dont want to know. Concerned parents upset that little Johnny is going to discover sex from reading Catcher in the Rye or that little Janey is going to be damaged because Twain uses the word “nigger” in talking about the horrors of slavery. To be blunt, it’s not that the parents dont want their kids reading this stuff. It’s that they’re afraid. Suddenly they have to explain difficult things to their kids — and in the process they have to explain why humanity is so inhuman sometimes.
Some of these banned books have been around for hundreds of years. People still read them. There’s usually a reason for that. Before demanding they be removed from the library shelves, maybe the question should be, why are you so afraid of them?
2 thoughts on “Banned Books Week! (5)”
So even you put quotes around the word nigger. Wy not the word rape or murder or 1000 etceteras. I have just had a bras de fer with my current publishers over this kind of censorship
I put quotes around it because it’s usually vernacular, not specific like rape or murder. Further to that point, rape and/or murder isnt used as an insult, while “nigger”, “fag”, “kike”, and a thousand others are. They are words used today to hurt, and their use today should be seen in that light. But in Twain’s time, it was different because the societal mindset was different. We no longer have that excuse, which makes contemporary use of it all the more egregious.
It’s not censorship, Kurt. It’s asking more about context. If I use it today, knowing full well what it means and the impact it has, that makes me far, far worse than Twain’s casual use. And IMHO it’s important to understand the difference so banning HUCK FINN over it doesnt happen again.