Thank God civility is returning to literature! Thanks to some faceless editor at New South Books and alleged Twain scholar Dr. Alan Gribben new sanitized versions of “Huckleberry Finn” and “Tom Sawyer” will be published! The “word so offensive that it can’t even be printed here” has been removed! All is safe! Dr. Gribben is afraid that the language in the book has stopped people from reading Twain. I am sure this brilliant move will encourage students everywhere to put down the video game controller and pick up a book! It will also save overworked teachers from actually having to teach the context of the use of the word. In order to do that they might have to do some research and, heaven forbid, read the books themselves! What teacher has time for that when there are condoms to be distributed and prayer circles to be broken up?
Of course elitists who have jumped up to abhor this censorship! Movie reviewer and social gadfly Roger Ebert made the mistake of using “the word that shall not be spoken or written” in a tweet opposing the new edition. He thought because of his lifetime of liberalism and marriage to an African-American woman he was on the “white guys allowed to use the word which shall not be spoken or written,” list but alas he was not and was roundly “critweeted.” (This is a new word I have invented to describe the criticism of a tweet by tweeting.)
Now that the looming “Huck Finn” controversy is finally behind us we can get to the business of creating jobs! Think of all of the unemployed and underemployed English majors we can busy doing the task of politically “correcting” the rest of the great and not so great works of literature. We could hire half a Bryn Mawr class just to edit the works of Toni Morrison!
Just by editing “the word which may not be spoken or written” out of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” The Heart of Darkness,” “Go Tell it On The Mountain,” “Lord of the Flies,” and a thousand other works of literature we could drop the unemployment rate a point or two. Then we could start on other ethnic insults which are more subtle. I see full employment on the horizon!
The real problem is when we get to books like Dick Gregory’s autobiography. Its title is “The word that shall not be spoken or written: An Autobiography.” Maybe we should ask him? He has said that “the word that shall not be spoken or written,” should not be censored nor should euphemisms be used. He finds it intellectually dishonest. The same sentiment has been expressed by Professor Randall Kennedy, a Harvard Law School instructor and writer of books and essays on the use of “the word which may not be spoken or written.” Ahhh, what do they know? Vive la censorship! Vive la revisionism!