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Gregg Camfield <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 21 Feb 2010 12:16:38 -0800
text/plain (28 lines)
Catching up on a week's e-mail, I find a number of _ad hominem_ attacks
populating the forum's postings.  I admire Ann's corrective here, so I won't
speak much to the substance.

That said, I'm more than a little disturbed that many readers of the forum
would assume from a published newspaper interview that Tom Wortham has been
accurately represented.  Any of the direct quotations embedded in a
different context would not have elicited outrage and horror from members of
this list.  For instance, what Wortham is quoted as saying about Twain's use
of the term "Nigger" is accurate, i.e., that Twain knew it would provoke
readers.  It's a necessary part of the ironic genius of the _Huck_.

But newspapers are in the simplification business, and the over-all effect
of the newspaper article makes Tom seem silly.  Twain himself referred to
newspaper reporters, himself included, as "newspaper reptiles" for
cold-blodded abuse of living human beings in service of selling copy.

I find it more than a little ironic that many on this list have not only
accepted the paper's representation but have also devolved into simplistic
name calling in the name of complexity.  I would encourage those of you who
castigate Wortham, rather than _The L.A. Times_, actually to read some of
Tom's work, or pay attention to the way he edited _NCL_ for so long.
There's more than one book that needs to be read closely from cover to
cover, and I would hope that we'd have learned the grace to judge generously
the "book" of a person's life.