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Light Out, Huck, They Still Want to Sivilize You (2011)

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Light Out, Huck, They Still Want to Sivilize You (2011)

  • Michiko Kakutani

The article “Light Out, Huck, They Still Want to Sivilize You”(2011) is written by Michiko Kakutani. The article is American-Japanese literary criticize for The New York Times. She started her successful career as a reporter for The Washington Post, but later moved to literary reviews. Michiko Kakutani great work has been awarded with a Pulitzer Prize.

“Huckleberry Finn and the N-word debate” a CBS News video, published in 2011. The interviewer Byron Pitts, interviews many people about the newer edition “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” with the target of schools which have banished the book from the teacher’s curriculum because Mark Twain’s use of some offensive words such as ‘nigger’. Pitts points out why Twain’s book had been censored and even banned from the day it was released till today. Pitts is discussing Randall Williams book who is one of the owners of the publishing house, which had something to do with the revised vision of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. Here they replaced the offensive word ‘nigger’ with ‘slave’ instead. Williams however did agree in the fact that some people might consider his version of Twain’s book as being more censorship compared to the original version, but he does also points out that his version of the book is only meant to be an alternative towards those schools that doesn't want the discussion about the word ‘nigger’ in the spotlight, it is already seen that Twain’s version of the book have been banned at many schools and it is here where Williams book can be used, so the students will be able to study it once again. Furthermore, Williams does not mean that the use of word ‘slave’ instead of ‘nigger’ is changing the meaning of Twain’s message towards racism. He does also states that his new version of the book has been causing a huge controversy because the debate about racism is a very subtle subject.

A man named David Bradley is also being interviewed, Bradley is teaching at the University of Oregon. Bradley is an African-American who argues in favor of studying the original book by Twain’s. Bradley claims that the word ‘nigger’ isn't too offensive, but it can offend some people in the way it is being used. Williams punctuate that the word is often used nowadays by the African-Americans without any harmful meaning. He believes that the way that the word in Twain’s book is being used is a way for the teachers to start a meaningful discussion/conversation with the students about the slavery and race. Another chosen article from BBC.com “Mind your language!” (2015) By James Harbeck takes the discussion and issue to another level.  James Harbeck thinks that every author on this planet is responsible for their choice of words and languages in books. He talks about how words, languages, discussions should not fear or discriminate the humanity. “Strong language often involves naming things you desire but aren’t supposed to desire; at the very least, it aims to upset power structures that may seem a bit too arbitrary”. There is a reason why authors express themselves and the important history in the way they do, which should be accepted and respected because they put many hours of work into making a book for others. People should not get all caught up in their emotions and feelings, then be offensive. The answer lies with the individual and the way the person reads the material in books.

The article “Light Out, Huck, They Still Want to Sivilize You” is directly against literature censorship. She argues that many authors’ original texts must be “intellectual property” but also editors, censors and publishers should not have any right to interfere. Therefore, she thinks that censoring literary texts has a bad impact on their work such as quality and the important messages. She also agrees on that censorship can lead to negative discussions and consequences. Michiko Kakutani supports her views on things with appeals such as ethos and logos. She manages to use a lot of logos when she wants the readers to reflect on the importance of literary books in their original forms on line 22-23, page 1 “Haven’t we learned by now that removing books from the curriculum just deprives children of exposure to classic works of literature?”  Kakutani also uses ethos through examples of literature censorship and historical backgrounds on line 39-41, page 2” Efforts to sanitize classic literature have a long, undistinguished history. Everything from Chaucer’s Canterbury 40 Tales to Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory have been challenged or have suffered at the hands of uptight editors”.         

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