I read recently that somebody wants to “update” Huckleberry Finn so that it is more politically correct. The gentleman is doing this because, as he says:
“After a number of talks, I was sought out by local teachers, and to a person they said we would love to teach this novel, and Huckleberry Finn, but we feel we can’t do it anymore. In the new classroom, it’s really not acceptable.”
And really, that’s fine with me; everyone is entitled to their opinion, and if he and his publisher want to spend their time and money doing this, well, it’s a free country, right? He seems like a decent enough fellow who is trying to do something nice.
However, here’s where I have a problem. These same educators who claim such horror at teaching the “old” version of Huck Finn – and other works like it – because they can’t bring themselves to use “those words” in their classrooms obviously haven’t been paying attention to what their students are listening to on their iPods, seeing on TV / the movies, playing on their video games, and/or calling each other on the playground recently.
I don’t know about you, but where we live, we hear “those words” on an almost daily basis, blaring through the speakers on the door of some old beater driving down the road, usually accompanied by a blaring bass beat that we affectionately refer to as “the neighborhood mating call” (the stereo system alone is usually worth more than said car).
I can assure you that I don’t want to hear those words, but I’m not given a choice in the matter on a public thoroughfare. Heaven forbid I should complain to somebody about it – the little dears who are doing it are exercising their rights to free speech, dontcha know?
If these students are willing to voluntarily plop themselves down to hear somebody else “sing” it, act it, animate it and/or say it to one of their friends, then they have no justification whatsoever for being offended by it in the classroom – and neither do their parents (and you just KNOW that some parents’ group somewhere – my guess is some coastal liberal bastion of elite “morality” – is going to take up this charge, followed inevitably by their lawyers, seeking to educate us poor unwashed rubes in the great wilderness).
Do these same educators have a problem with some of the many books on their “Required Reading” lists that offend the rest of us? The ones that champion homosexuality, promiscuity, rape, incest, abortion, drug use and the like? Do they worry about how THOSE books make their students feel?
Or do they turn around and make their students feel like there is something wrong with them (and their parents) for not embracing the “diverse” lifestyles of the characters in those books?
Are these educators saying that they have a problem with using “those words” but they don’t have a problem teaching those other concepts in their classroom? If so, what does that say about these educators – and the system that is training THEM?
Here’s my suggestion – if we take the offensive words/concepts out of the “old” classics, then we have to take the offensive words/concepts out of the “new” classics as well. Let’s see how well that goes over with the politically correct crowd, shall we?
My bet is they won’t even get it.