First Little Red Riding Hood’s big bad wolf no longer ate grandma.
Then new versions of the Bible popped up, replacing those horribly discriminatory phrases such as “sons of God” with the gender-neutral and politically correct “children of God.”
Now the PC zealots are setting their beady little eyes – and their big, fat editing pens – on literature’s classic texts.
They are taking the “n” word, and the equally disturbing term “Injun,” out of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, according to “Publishers Weekly.”
Both will be replaced by the much more benign and politically correct term “slave.”
Never mind historical context, author’s intent or that the words in the 1880s did not hold the same malice and evil they hold and produce today. Push all that aside and instead mangle the text to make a few crybabies happy.
The crybabies in this particular case were initially National Endowments for the Arts’ folks who headed the Big Read Alabama event in 2009. Tom Sawyer was to be a featured book, but the NEA, run by the government of course, could not dare feature anything with such a horrific racial slur.
Thus the NEA contacted NewSouth Books to come up with a PC edition for the event and NewSouth enlisted professor Alan Gribben to write the edition’s introduction.
After Gribben got some attention from more crybabies when he mentioned the book during his public speaking gigs, NewSouth decided to print the book for public consumption and the $25 hardcover is expected to hit shelves as soon as next month.
Gribben, 69, who calls himself a Twain scholar, has been on his own personal tirade against Twain’s modern slur in Finn. Gribben has never heard the word uttered in real life and was so appalled he would not read it aloud in class. He, too, substituted the word “slave” when he recited from the text.
The big clincher could have been the word made his daughter mad because she had an African-American friend.
He was in. He claims teachers have also approached him with their concerns that the book is no longer “acceptable…in the new classroom.”
And what a sad classroom it has become when it includes censored classic texts.
The “n” word is neither pretty nor a word that considerate people even dream of uttering in 2011. But that doesn’t mean it should be ripped from original works written 130 years ago when the word did not hold the same hate it does today.
Times change. Words change. Meanings change. Political correctness tries to combat all that by painting the world as one big gender-neutral blob devoid of any reference to color, creed, handicap, height, weight, nose size or anything else that could possibly might make people upset.
It’s not enough the movement has already homogenized, declawed and Disney-fied modern society, it’s now working on doing the same to the past.
Rather than the PC movement bent on trying to appease those who are so morbidly offended by a word or two in classic literature, perhaps we should focus our efforts instead on a movement that helps people grow thicker skin or some type of spine.
We’ll offer some classes on historical context while we’re at. That is, if we can set up those classes before the PC fanatics completely rewrite history to suit their own needs.
Or maybe it’s too late and we’ve already become “slaves” to their editing of the world.
Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist, performer and poet who wishes Santa came every week. Her column usually appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski and Tucson Weekly’s blog The Range but it came early this week. See more writing and art from RYNdustries at ryngargulinski.com, cafepress.com/ryndustries and rynski.etsy.com.
What do you think?
Is such an edit worthwhile or sabotage?
Where do we draw the line at PC? Are we too far gone to draw any lines?