Easily offended to blame for censorship of Huck Finn

“But the truth is, that when a library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn’t anger me.”

This is a quote from a man named Samuel Clemens, a name you probably do not recognize, but I’m sure that if you knew the name he signed his books with, you would instantly know. His pen name was Mark Twain, the author of what is usually held up with The Great Gatsby as the definitive American novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Twain is usually brought up quite a bit around now, as Banned Book Week (a week chosen to remember and read the great books that have once been banned) just recently concluded on Oct. 1, and his classics are some of the most notable censored and banned books. The sad thing is though that while we just got finished celebrating his books for continuing on despite the controversy, we are slowly but surely seeping back into censorship.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a book that was banned and censored when it first came out and continues to be censored to this day, but the ironic reasons for the censorship have changed over the years.

Originally when it first came out, it was cursed and banned for the ever so “awful” crime of having a message that black and white people are equal, and, through satire, it mocked racism in America.

Now it has had its name perverted by people who read only one word — a word that has an infamous history in America. It is often referred to as the N-word, and while I see this as an immature way to address the word, I will be referring to it as “the N-word” for the rest of this article.

These people who want to censor the book do not see the words in between the one they like to focus on, so they are blind to Twain’s satire, for which I pity them. Not being able to appreciate such brilliant speeches of equality saddens me, as does missing the beautiful friendship formed between a runaway child and a runaway slave.

There is another group of people who are clueless to Twain’s meaning, as well, defending the word in his book by saying that people did not understand that that was a hateful word when the book was written, but this is untrue. Twain knew that the N-word was a word used to demean and insult black people, and that is why he uses this word.

In the novel, he expresses the disturbing influence that American society holds in certain aspects as his main character, Huckleberry Finn. By having an innocent child using words like the N-word in describing black people and using phrases like “I knowed he was white inside” when he realized his best friend was equal to him is Twain’s use of satire to show the ill effects a racist or prejudiced society can have on the most innocent of us.

He knew the implications of the word and used it against itself.

When it comes to people getting offended over satire enough to alter the work of the original, we need to realize we looked at something wrong. For those who just do not want to see that word and want to replace it with “slave,” I am sorry that the N-word hinders your reading, but you have to understand that “slave” does not provide the correct slant for Twain’s satire.

The reason why he used that word was because it is a word used to demean and insult black people that he then uses against itself, so replacing it with “slave” muddles an extremely important part of the book.

I am glad that we are able to celebrate freedom of speech by shining light on once banned books, but we have to remember that it’s still happening now, and we have to try our hardest to end it.

I argue that even if Adventures of Huckleberry Finn wasn’t being satirical, it still should not be censored or banned. If we start to claim books rightful of being denied because of spreading hate speech, then who would define where the censorship would end?

Whether the banned work is Hamlet or Mein Kampf, all books should be allowed to be read, as censoring ideas is the start of a much more depressing future.

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