Word on the street is that there's a call to censor Mark Twain's classic, The Adventures of Hucklenerry Finn. Why? For sentences like this, "N-s is always talking witches in the dark by the kitchen fire..." (Huck Finn page 6). For reasons beyond my control (namely, the rules for publishing on this website), I cannot directly say the word that's edited out there, but I think most of us know what the book actually says.
The people calling for censorship argue that the n-word is no longer accepted in our society because it's not polite. It's offensive. It's racist. It's just one of those things that you don't say. But it didn't used to be. Huck Finn was written in 1884, and in 1884, the n-word was just one of those things that you could say. It was still offensive, I guess, but no one really cared if they offended the blacks or not.
What's really worrisome here is the fact that people seem to have put history on hold for the sake of politeness. In 1884, people did not respect blacks, and people used the n-word. But can we ignore that reality just because we're embarrassed to see "n-word" written in black and white on the page of a novel?
History is not pretty. The whites's view of blacks in 1884 was not pretty. Maybe we're embarrassed about it. And good, we should be. We should be so embarrassed that it doesn't happen again - isn't that how bad behavior is stifled in the first place? The problem comes when our desire to be politically correct overshadows our desire to learn from the past, however ugly. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And how are we to learn from history if we do not learn history to begin with - history, both its highs and its lows.
Our days of romanticizing history must be over. There is no purpose in a history that has been re-finished with a glossy, rosy polish. If we're afraid of Huck Finn now, how much longer will it be until we're afraid to talk about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr? How much longer then until we're afraid to talk about slavery and segregation? And how much longer then until our descendents stop knowing that racism is bad and start repeating our 400-year road to freedom?
Stop hiding. Stop cowering. Nobody ever learned from ignoring their mistakes.
(Author's note: I am not endorsing modern usage of the n-word. Rather the opposite, actually. I just get fed up with people who think they can steer around stuff like this. Please weigh in with your thoughts! ~not Ross)
(Author's note part two: if you're currently bored, check out my new profile on this site, Petra Arkanian! ~not Ross)