Offensive words edited from Huckleberry Finn

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Outrage about a move to clean up an American classic. Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn is getting a makeover with offensive words being replaced. Many are calling it censorship. The outrage is spelled out in 140 characters or less.

"Leave Huckleberry Finn alone" writes one person on Twitter.

Another tweeted: "The dumbing down of America continues unabated."

Two scholars are editing the classic, first published in 1884, to replace the "N" word with "slave" and remove slang terms for Native Americans. It's due out next month.

"The whole point of being an American is that you can write what you want to write even if it offends someone else," said Eileen, who's against editing the book.

"I think it's censorship," said Joyce Bullock.

Bullock first read Huckleberry Finn when she was just a girl.

"It was offensive then but I don't see the need to change it now because that's the way it was printed," said Bullock.

One of the scholars said teachers want a version that's acceptable in today's classroom.

"It wouldn't make a difference in fact using the word slave is just as egregious," said King Salim Khalfani with the Virginia State Conference NAACP.

Here in Virginia, the State Department of Education sets academic standards about textbooks and specific novels, but there is not a state reading list. It's up to each individual school district to make selections.

We checked around. It's not on Richmond's reading list. Hanover doesn't have specific reading requirements. In Henrico county, Huckleberry Finn is on the 11th grade reading list and school officials say English teachers pull out excerpts to discuss in class but it's not mandatory reading.

You won't catch King Khalfani's children curling up with any version.

"No they won't be reading that. I was forced to read it and I didn't find anything endearing or good about it," said Khalfani.

He said this controversy is about the bottom line.

"They're going to make millions and possibly billions of dollars with school systems. Take this in it's now a cleaned up version of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, follow the money," said Khalfani.

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