Friday, April 04, 2008

Self- Censorship...

I've been reading "Tom Sawyer" to my kids the last few nights, and I ran up against a problem in chapter 6, when Huckleberry Finn enters the story. During his conversation with Tom, the "N" word came up a few times and rather than read it out, I replaced it with "black guy".
I understand that when the book was written, that term was the norm and not necessarily used in a derogatory fashion, but I'm really not comfortable saying the word and I'm sure as hell not comfortable reading it out loud to my 6 and 8 year old children.
That said, I would never advocate government censorship of that book, or changing it's original format to suit today's sensitivities. Context is everything, right?
I'm sure my kids will learn about the word eventually, but it sure as hell won't be from hearing their dad toss it around.
So my question is, am I just a wimp caving in to today's PC pressures?

5 comments:

phlegmfatale said...

I think the way you altered the text is just fine, actually. When they are older, if they go back and read it and question your alteration, then you can explain. I think the problem is when people want to throw the baby out with the bath water, thus missing out on what was a great, adventuresome literary work.

Larry said...

If they are too young to fully understand the context, it's probably better the way you did it.

DirtCrashr said...

I think it's fine, words have changed over time whether we like it or not.

Hammer said...

I read the word to the kids and explained it fully. I know they are going to hear the word so I wanted to give them my take on it.

Thud said...

I would probanly have read the word and explained although I think the age of the children would be the deciding factor...one of the minor joys of parenthood eh?