Twain’s word choice
I agree wholeheartedly with Leonard Pitts Jr.’s and Kathleen Parker’s commentaries on the revised edition of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (“Censoring ‘Huck Finn’ is wrong, wrong, wrong,” Jan. 9 and “Mark Twain would find editing offensive,” Jan. 10).
After reading the pieces, I looked through the novel and found on the first page a “notice” and an “explanatory” provided by the author. The “notice” condemns readers searching for a motive, moral or plot in the story.
The “explanatory” tells of the various dialects spoken in the books: “The Missouri negro dialect; the extremist (sic) form of the backwoods Southwestern dialect; the ordinary “Pike County” dialect; and four modified versions of this last.”
Mark Twain chose to write “n—” because anything else would not have been true to these dialects. In the time Twain was writing, the characters who use “n—” to refer to slaves would not have used any other words. To change his choice of words is disrespectful to the effort Twain put into his research.
If you feel uneasy with his word choice, accept that is what he intended. The solution is not to simply eliminate that which causes discomfort, but to attempt to understand why it is so.
Regarding Duane Waddell’s letter titled, “Acting like sheep” (Jan. 13):
A perfect description of the liberal’s reactions to this type of tragedy. Yelling fire when there is none is exactly what most liberals did when they accused conservatives of causing the shooting because of a map with crosshairs (and ignoring the fact that the Democrats published a similar map back in 2004).
To date, the only incident the alleged shooter mentioned in writings he left behind was that he was unhappy with the way Gabrielle Giffords handled a written question he asked at a town hall meeting several years ago. And the liberal sheep fell in step and followed right along.
Madalyn McDaniel, you are correct in your letter (“Ridiculous charges,” Jan. 13). Of course Sarah Palin and the right did not cause the Tucson murders. And I also agree that the left has been exploiting this tragedy to score political points.
However, you lost me when you claimed the left wants to silence the right, “to eliminate diversity of thought and shut down any political discussion except theirs.” That is nonsense.
Here are the facts: Violence is absolutely one of the most shameful elements of this proud country’s dirty laundry. Way more than most other civilized nations. The statistics are readily available and indisputable.
It is also a fact that words do matter. Because you took the time to write this newspaper’s editor, I think you probably believe that.
So, when liberals call out conservatives for their deliberate lies, fear-mongering and fomenting hate (like using destructive words to win votes or earn enormous salaries), it’s not censorship. Such words do matter.
To use your words, they are both contemptuous and dangerous. Your letter earns a C minus for not being fair and balanced.
Guns on campus?
Several news articles recently have indicated that Arizona is considering legislation to allow faculty and students to bring concealed weapons onto college campuses.
If this were permitted, a perhaps unintended consequence would be substantial grade inflation. What faculty member would be courageous or foolish enough to return an exam with an F or D grade to a student who might, in a sudden fit of rage, pull out a gun and start shooting?
I would certainly change my own grading practices in the face of such a threat.