It can be seen, therefore, that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a work truly worthy of being taught in public schools across the nation. But what of those that still claim that the book ought to be banned? To this there can only be one response: that in a land of free speech, censorship can never be allowed. It is, all in all, a delicate balance one finds between freedom of speech and political correctness, especially in a country with so many diverse groups. As author Ray Bradbury comments in the Coda to his work Fahrenheit 451, "Every minority…feels it has the will, the right, the duty to censor literature." Sadly for them, these minorities do not have any such right or duty (though they have proved the "will" part several times over). And, of course, the same holds true for majorities, who seem to feel as if they have at least as much right, will, and duty. What, in all, is left when one has answered the demands of every disgruntled group? Nursery rhymes. Perhaps. Probably not all of the nursery rhymes, either. Is it any surprise that Huckleberry Finn leaves some groups disgruntled, since as author David Bradley says, "A good writer is constantly trying to cause trouble." This is what Twain does to make his point: he causes trouble, distracts our eye and mind, calls upon us to see the errors of our ways, whether we like or not. And more importantly, not only is there no reason to ban Huckleberry Finn, there is no right to ban it, either. Free speech applies to all people, be they black, white, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Baha'i, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, rich, poor, middle class, conservative, liberal, so-called "Islamofascists," cavemen, firemen, rural, urban, tall, short. If all of the dwarfs of the world objected to the comical character cut by Miss Mowcher in Dickens's David Copperfield, would we listen then? They, fortunately, have either more sense or less interest than those trying to set a match to Twain.
One point, though, must be conceded to these people: Huck Finn should not be read by young children below, say, high school. Perhaps it should not even be read by high school children without "guidance." Of course, some books should not be read by certain adults without guidance. But anyone in or above high school should be able to read this novel without becoming riled; rather, they are likely to stand in awe of this great work. And while perhaps parts of it are painful—and not just to African-Americans, but to whites and to all peoples—anyone who has not learned by high school that learning can be painful is not truly mature enough to be in high school. And far better to learn pain through a book, an object which has no malevolence towards any one person, which can be shut at any time, than through the mouth of a friend, a co-worker, a lover, in stabbing needles that tear and pain throughout life without ceasing.
The truth of the matter is that an attack on a book is not—nay, never—merited. This one especially is a work of great poignancy, a celebration of friendship between the races, and an attack on the mentality of the slaveholding, American South of the nineteenth century. Anyone who objects to these views are welcome to express themselves in writing, song, speech. As Bradbury states in the same work mentioned above, "…that would mean, from now on, no more productions of Boys in the Band (no women) or The Women (no men). Or…a great lot of Shakespeare that would never be seen again…" No matter who they are, or where, or when, everyone deserves to express their views. And there is only one word for those who attempt to repress them. That word is tyrant.