Tune-in alert. This just in from CBS. The debate goes on, this time with the ever-insightful David Bradley.
* "60 MINUTES" EXPLORES THE CONTROVERSY OVER *
*A NEW EDITION OF "HUCKLEBERRY FINN" THAT*
*REPLACES THE N-WORD WITH "SLAVE" -- SUNDAY ON CBS*
Expunging the N-word from "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" deprives
students of the "teachable moment" its presence in the novel creates
says a black scholar. But retaining it deprives others of experiencing
the novel in school at all says a white publisher of a sanitized
version catering to school districts that have banned the book because
of the word. Byron Pitts talks to both men, as well as teachers and
students for a 60 MINUTES story about the N-word in American society to
be broadcast _Sunday, March 20_ (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT.
Randall Williams, co-owner and editor of NewSouth Books,
republished "Huckleberry Finn" with "slave" replacing over 200
appearances of the N-word. He believes the new edition can still offer
a teachable moment as well as an alternative for school districts
unwilling to inject the word into their classrooms. Prof. David Bradley
of the University of Oregon uses the word in the classroom and disagrees
with the use of the new edition, telling Pitts, "You use the term
'teachable moment' and that's what [n*&^%$] gives you. That's why it's
important to keep it in there," says the author and Mark Twain scholar.
"I call "Huckleberry Finn" a power tool when it comes to education,"
says Bradley. "There are so many things [in it] that pry things
open...That teachable moment is when that word hits the table in a
classroom. Everybody goes 'wooh' Okay, let's talk about it."
But some teachers will not utter the word in their
classrooms even if it's in the book. Pitts talks to teachers in
Minneapolis who are discussing the traditional novel in class. One will
say the N-word in class and the other will not. Their students also had
divided opinions about saying the word in class; a black student said it
made him uncomfortable. That's why his version is needed says Williams.
"It is the word itself that is the problem...all these repetitive
instances of the offensive N-word in there," he tells Pitts. "Is the
argument that these kids should be subjected to pain?" he asks. Williams
feels it is better to replace the N-word with "slave," avoiding any pain
and giving those who would not get a chance to study it at all an
opportunity to experience what many feel is one of the greatest pieces
of American literature.
"It's not 'Huckleberry Finn" anymore,'" counters Bradley.
"What are we teaching them [by removing the N-word]? This may be their
first encounter with slavery." He says that to withhold the N-word is
to avoid an integral reality. "'Slave' is a condition...nothing for
anybody to be ashamed of," says Bradley, "But [n*&^%$] has to do with
shame...calling somebody something. [N*&^%$] is what made slavery possible.