This is completely unacceptable.
There’s a very famous statement by Pastor Martin Niemoller regarding the Nazi rise to power, and it is as follows:
They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
Twain isn’t around to defend his work, and unless someone stands up and says something, the change will be made and the original creation will be lost forever. This is an incredibly slippery slope – if it’s allowed to happen once, it will be allowed to happen again and again until the integrity of all of the classics deemed offensive or inappropriate are censored and sanitized.
And what’s with the double standard? Tupac Shakur, 50 Cent, and Snoop Dogg all have multiple songs with the word “nigger” in them. Why no censorship there? Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy used the word liberally in their acts in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Why aren’t they being similarly altered?
By the way, if you’re going after the word in literature, you’ve got a pretty long list to get to. To Kill a Mockingbird, Heart of Darkness, Tropic of Cancer, Crime and Punishment, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ulysses, Naked Lunch, Lord of the Flies, A Farewell to Arms, and many others all contain the word “nigger.” How long before those originals are forever lost?
Yes, some words are offensive. But authors use words, offensive and otherwise, to create rich tapestries that are handed down through the ages. Tug on just one string of one of those tapestries, and they all unravel.
By Steve Boudreault