TGIF: cheers and jeers
Jeers: File this first one in that category for things you want to say but that you should still give an additional 5-10 seconds of thought before so doing. [Warning, some of the tweets and/or Facebook comments linked in this article contain language some may–and should, in my opinion–find offensive.]
It’s likely been impossible not to know about an upcoming edited version of Mark Twain’s–1884 book–Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that plans to remove the n-word. Now that’s a word you’ll almost never hear me use, never see me write* and never see me glorify. Still, I don’t agree with revising the book even though the word apparently appears 219 times. I honestly don’t remember having to read the book in school, however much as I loved to read, I hated the assigned reading so I may have skipped it and aced the test.** But editing the book to remove offensive content is an insult to students and teachers and ultimately to society. It’s saying “You’re not mature enough to have an educational conversation about the context of the word in this book, so we’ll just relieve you of that burden by removing it.”
I’m not alone in this thought, people of all skin tones took to blogs, comment threads and social media to express their dislike for the new version. What started to bother me was the casual use of the n-word in their protests. Some–not all–seemed to revel in what they must have thought was implicit permission to use the word outside the context of the story, and sadly from my notice, these people were not black. Not that I believe in the double standard, I don’t think anyone should use it, but from a purely observational standpoint it’s clear that some people are frowned on more for saying it than others, even if they’re attempting to make a valid point. Case in point: Roger Ebert. Aside from still being a well-respected movie reviewer, he’s embraced social media to express his opinions on just about everything, so when a Facebook user pointed out the Huck Finn revision, he posted the following on both Facebook and Twitter (edited):
I’d rather be called a N****r than a Slave.
It was then “Liked” on Facebook by 5 users and retweeted on Twitter by over 100 users/accounts, some that I follow. I also retweeted it, but as an “old-school” retweet adding my own comment to it:
Fair point, from [someone] who’s likely to be called neither.
I admit that I was angry–any use of the word does that to me–though I understood the point he was making, he didn’t exercise good judgment in making it. It smacked a little too much of someone saying “Oh marginalized person, I am not one of you, but I understand your plight. See how I speak as if I am one of you.” It wasn’t enough to make me stop following him as I enjoy his movie reviews and insight into cinema. I didn’t even think he’d see my tweet, I’m just one of 300 thousand followers after all. But later on he did apologize, after a fashion, with another tweet.
I wouldn’t have even known about the follow-up tweet if I hadn’t noticed a bunch of new followers between yesterday & today and searched for my username in Google. I was quoted in a story that made the rounds. I only wish I’d had room to actually spell out “someone” but old-school retweeting is hard core on sticking to 140 characters. Still, being quoted is always nice, as is being able to see your words pop up in Google results, but most importantly it was kept in context.***
Cheers: Got a link this morning about a letter from a “98 year old woman in the UK” to her bank.
I am writing to thank you for bouncing my cheque with which I endeavoured to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the cheque and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honour it. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my Pension, an arrangement, which, I admit, has been in place for only thirty eight years. You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account £30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.
Sadly, the letter has been going around the internet since at least 2003, attributed to various sources, but actually originating as a humor piece which has been edited and updated since then. See the original letter at Snopes, but it’s still enough to give one a good chuckle.
* I don’t think I’ve written about any of the times I’ve been called the word while growing up: by classmates, by random people driving by and once even by a child I was babysitting. Suffice to say that while it may be tossed around more casually these days, especially in popular culture, I’ve never heard it used towards me as anything less than a demeaning insult.
** Both my brother and I could do that. Drove those Georgia public school teachers crazy.
*** Taking on Roger Ebert and having it mentioned in the media almost makes up for not having been named Best DC Blogger in the recent DC Top Tweeps contest… almost.