Educational Editorial: Re-writing books wrong approach

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - While the Virginia Board of Education is working in earnest on protecting classrooms from inaccuracies in history text, NewSouth, a publisher in Alabama and Auburn professor and Mark Twain scholar, Alan Gribben, are taking a different approach -- let's just change the words to what we like.

Diane Ravitch recently blogged that this expurgation of a classic text is tragic…she even noted, "Ernest Hemingway wrote: '…all modern literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.'"

While clearly the n-word is, or should be, offensive to all, it is the word that Twain used…not slave, or servant or hand.

An irony is that there are far more articles and commentaries being offered about the "mistakes" in history texts than there are about the blatant alteration of a text to meet today's standards of sensitivity or "political correctness."

If you don't like it, don't use it…or read it.

Congress is one of the few institutions that can change the record to say what they wish that they had said…and make it official. They are able to expunge the record and rewrite it as though the revision had been uttered originally on the floor.

Now, if Mark Twain was with us, do you think that he would want to soften his language to make it more acceptable…I can't imagine the language that he might use at this prospect.

In "Areopagitica" John Milton argues that censorship can be used for many reasons. The real question is, "who does it?"

Whether expurgated or expunged, the author's text should be taken for what it is…a view of his day…not a view of our day during his time.

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