"Censorship is telling a man he can't have steak just because a baby can't chew."
I don't believe in censorship, but when I heard that NewSouth Books was changing the N-word in Mark Twain's masterpiece The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to the word "slave" I thought: "What a wonderful idea."
You see, when I read the book to my youngest daughter as a bedtime story that's exactly what I did. My little girl loved the story-changes and all-and to this day talks about how ol' Huckleberry vanquished the evil Lord Voldemort.
I understand NewSouth probably made its decision for financial reasons. I'm sure few are interested in buying, much less reading, classic novels that do not feature sparkly teenage vampires in love. More importantly, what teacher would be willing to lose their job by reading or recommending Huckleberry Finn to their students?
(Personally, I've never cared for how the term "the N-word" has replaced the actual N-word. Sanitizing it has only given people and broadcasters license to say it to their heart's content. C'mon, when you say "the N-word" we all know what you really want to say.)
So I wrote to NewSouth and offered them the following story improvements:
First, I told them, they should remove all references to guns and slavery. If you don't mention something, then it's as if it's never existed, right?
Next, they should make Jim an entrepreneur. And gay. Yearning for his God-given right to marry his long-time lover, Judge Thatcher. He'll depart for San Francisco, where gay marriage is legal and he can live off of California's generous welfare and healthcare programs. When asked, his friend Moses will only say: "He's gone to Sugarcandy Mountain."
In the book, Huckleberry Finn's father, Pap, is a vulgar, violent white man. Ignorant and lazy. Cruel and mean. Only interested in what he can take from someone else. He's a liar, a thief, and did I mention he was white? I suggested they make him a Republican.
Tom Sawyer plays a minor role in this story. I told them his part could be expanded by having him impregnate Becky Thatcher. Looking for an easy way out of his predicament Tom takes a dead cat to the cemetery because he's heard that if you toss it into an empty grave at midnight you'll find a doctor willing to perform a late-term abortion.
The story can end with Jim getting married, Becky getting an abortion, Tom Sawyer's maid-Tia Polly-getting her citizenship papers, Frederick Douglas saving Abe Lincoln from an assassin's bullet, and Native Americans taking back their land from the evil white devil.
And what happen's to ol' Huckleberry?
Well, after his sex-change he joins the Navy and lives happily ever after.