Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Hidden Dumbing-Down Threat

Everyone's been abuzz about the new edition of Huckleberry Finn that will rewrite Twain, replacing the n-word with "slave" in every single instance. (A lack of respect for the history, the literary integrity of the work, a need to honestly confront America's racist past -- you can write most of the dialogue yourself.) But hidden in that NY Times story about the fracas is the following:
“I’m not offended by anything in ‘Huck Finn,’ ” said Elizabeth Absher, an English teacher at South Mountain High School in Arizona. “I am a big fan of Mark Twain, and I hear a lot worse in the hallway in front of my class.”

Ms. Absher teaches Twain short stories and makes “Huck Finn” available but does not teach it because it is too long — not because of the language.

“I think authors’ language should be left alone,” she said. “If it’s too offensive, it doesn’t belong in school, but if it expresses the way people felt about race or slavery in the context of their time, that’s something I’d talk about in teaching it.”
I'm sorry -- what? She would teach about slavery and the context of the time... except that Huckleberry Finn is too long?

Ok -- the heck with all the dead birds dropping out of the sky. That, Noble Readers, is a sign of the fucking apocalypse.

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