Rewrite or Edit Samuel Clemens? It’s Just Wrong.

 

It’s all over the news today, even though the damage is already done.  I admit, I find it difficult to believe it has gone this far. 

When I learned that an alternate version of Mark Twain’s, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, had been published and is now advocated for use in teaching, as a replacement for the original, I was shocked and disappointed.  Political correctness to show respect is one thing, but this dilutes history, disrespects the author, and is a disservice to the youth and others reading the altered versions of the text. 

I lean towards liberalism (athough age has tempered my beliefs, somewhat, compared to my 20s).  I embrace social and cultural differences among people.  I do not tolerate racial ignorance and intolerance.  I’ll be clear, I do not use nor do I respect those that use the so-called “N” word, but it does have its place in literature to describe the colorful history of the United States of America.  This concept is in harmony with the 1st Amendment of the United States’ Constitution, which includes language about freedom of speech and press.

Literature of all types reflects historical culture like a photograph – a moment or moments in time that allow later generations to understand and learn about what was important at that time in history.  It’s a tool for learning and a fascinating study.  You just can’t change literature  — it’s like trimming Paul Rubens’ paintings of full-figured women because people find it uncomfortable and not trendy — completely absurd.  What’s next?  Is it Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird, because she uses the word, “negro,” in her writing?

Forgive me for comparing fiction to reality; but, would anyone, today, consider altering the accounts of the Nazi Germany Holocaust, to make it more palatable for students of history?  I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., U.S.A., this past September and was wholly impressed by the creators’ care and respect to truth and reality.  It’s important for humans to understand the facts about what happened in the past and cultural norms of the period, good or bad.

Let’s concentrate our efforts on those groups that ban and/or burn books and other writings, convincing them that people of all ages should have unrestricted access to literature and writing and be allowed to choose for themselves.  Like I tell people about electronic mail, I know where the <Delete> key is located.  I can choose what I read.  In this digital age, it is much easier to edit and modify writing, but that doesn’t mean we should do it.

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