60 Minutes and the N-word

Book Cover for first edition of Huckleberry Finn
Book Cover for first edition of Huckleberry Finn

I have a confession to make. I am not very comfortable using the N-word. I have heard the word all my life, used in all types of situation that vary from a Richard Pryor stand-up routine to the other end of spectrum, where the six-letter noun is used to put somebody down. And yes the word (at least in my experience) can be applied to anybody, though the most common usage might still occur, when it is directed towards black people from other races. Now that I have gotten this matter off my typing fingers, I can address the issue that 60 minutes raised. And that is the publication of a new version of Mark Twain’s classic, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, where the word, “nigger” has been changed to slave throughout the text.

The publisher for the “new” edition is called New South and the  book is now available and selling well. New South is a book publisher located in Montgomery, Alabama and the reason for changing the offensive language was to make the book for available for classroom usage, especially in pre-college situations. I do not have a problem with this alternative version, as long as readers are aware that the language has been changed. However, if this new edition were to become the norm, and the original version were to become the exception, more would be lost than gained. 60 Minutes did a nice job of airing the debate including interviews with proponents, opponents and high school English teachers, who teach the book in their American literature classes.


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