I liked Huckleberry Finn. It’s been a while since I’ve read it. I should probably read it again to see what I think about it these days. Regardless, I am considering buying a few extra copies and handing them out. Talk of book banning always motivates me to promote “seditious” material.
Of course, striking ole’ Huck from a school reading list is nothing new. It’s also merely symptomatic of much, much bigger problems. All I can picture is bonfires surrounded by masses of students, gleefully tossing “offensive” materials into the flames as they wear malicious smiles and smugly think themselves progressive. How terrifying. (insert shudder here)
According to this article, “…a Montgomery County school removed Huckleberry Finn from its curriculum after a group of students said the book made them feel uncomfortable.”
So feelings have really become the new standard by which we decide what can be read and what can’t? I guess that means I can run around demanding that anything that makes me “uncomfortable” must be struck from society. Even if I could do that, I wouldn’t.
The annoying thing about free speech is that it includes all speech—even the speech you or I don’t like. The satisfying thing about free speech is that Mark Twain is allowed to write what he wants. That means you and I are too.
Some white people in nineteenth-century America used offensive, racially-charged language.
Shocker, I know.
Part of learning who we are and where we’ve come from is reading books that were written in time periods when people spoke and acted in ways that aren’t socially acceptable today.
One way to ensure that a student doesn’t receive an education is to filter the information he receives so that he never learns to think for himself. Another way is just to ignore the parts of history and literature that she might not like.
I think the scariest statement in this article is:
We have all come to the conclusion that the community costs of reading this book in 11th grade outweigh the literary benefits.
Community costs? Where did that come from? Mao’s Little Red Book?
All I can say is look out when classic literature begins to be sacrificed for community “feelings.” Suddenly it’s normal in a free society to ban a book because someone might get their feelings hurt. Truth be told, the very idea of catering to community costs offends me.
Liberty–based societies emphasize the freedom of the individual. Collectivist societies emphasize the good of the community. In the latter some bureaucrat gets to decide what is best for everyone and enforces that idea via state directive. You and I don’t get to choose what we think is best. It is decided for us.
I’m glad I took the time to read it Huckleberry Finn. You may disagree that my time was well spent. That’s fine. But please, Mr. Principal (or whoever else), don’t pretend that you decree the standard for making judgments on behalf of the community.
I don’t have a right not to be offended.
I accept that.
In this real world in which we live there is no “safe space” from offense. The First Amendment is politically, culturally and socially the safest space for us all.