Dear Modern Language Association:
I am sure you are familiar with the controversy regarding the new novel from NewSouth productions, which substitutes “slave” for "nigger" in the book currently titled “Huckleberry Finn.” However, I am surprised to see that most of this controversy misses the point. Even with the modifications, Twain’s work is so rife with politically incorrect language that far more extensive editing is necessary. Fortunately, as a revised version of the book currently titled “Tom Sawyer” has not yet been released, we have an opportunity to properly revise this putative American classic before further damage is done. I have most graciously taken it upon myself to initiate this effort, with some further modifications and a sample of revised text.
Of course, simply removing one word is inadequate. What of Jim himself, a real human, and Jim itself, a name that reflects the inhuman kidnapping, brainwashing, and oppression that led Jim, and “Jim”, to their roles in modern literature? To paraphrase Carroll, is Jim Jim, or is Jim simply what he is called? Hence, Jim is hereafter named Olaudah.
The term “Injun Joe” has long been a source of controversy. While there is universal agreement that the term is racist, there is inadequate appreciation of the designation that this gentlemen deserves. For far too long, modern society has ignored the true accomplishments of Native Oppressees, who may not have had official degrees recognized by ivory tower institutions (with all respect to your readers, of course), but were nonetheless quite learned in geography, history, lore, and many other fields. It is time for society to appreciate this knowledge. Hence, “Injun Joe” is now “Professor Josephson”, a Full Professor of Literature with an affiliation not specified in this manuscript.
Huckleberry Finn is, of course, doubly offensive. The phrase “I’m your Huckleberry” may have different associations that include violence. Other berries may be worse. A raspberry is now associated with a denigrating and vulgar emission that could bruise an ego for life. Elderberries convey ageism, and gooseberries may offend readers from underrepresented species. “Blackberry Finn” is right out. The surname is a racial slur. Hence, both “Huckleberry” and “Finn” need to be replaced with two names that are not necessarily negative. We can capitalize on this opportunity to compensate for many decades of antimulticulturalism by calling this character “Dingo Chavez”, although other suggestions are welcome.
Tom Sawyer needs a similar revision. While neither name is as blatantly denigrating as “Huckleberry” or “Finn”, the name also reflects a white European origin that may underrepresent the diversity of the world today. Hence, Dingo Chavez is complemented nicely with Long Thik Pu, whose name reflects influences from other regions. Ben Harper, in a new chapter, opts for surgery to become Sheena Tlateloco.
However, changing names is only the beginning of the solution. Countless other terms in the book currently titled “Tom Sawyer” might give offense. For example, in this engaging dialog, “Huck” informs “The Old Welshman” that he
"stood in the dark and heard the ragged one beg for the widder, and the Spaniard swear he'd spile her looks just as I told you and your two -- "
"What! The deaf and dumb man said all that!"
Huck had made another terrible mistake! He was trying his best to keep the old man from getting the faintest hint of who the Spaniard might be, and yet his tongue seemed determined to get him into trouble in spite of all he could do. He made several efforts to creep out of his scrape, but the old man's eye was upon him and he made blunder after blunder. Presently the Welshman said:
"My boy, don't be afraid of me. I wouldn't hurt a hair of your head for all the world. No -- I'd protect you -- I'd protect you. This Spaniard is not deaf and dumb; you've let that slip without intending it; you can't cover that up now. You know something about that Spaniard that you want to keep dark. Now trust me -- tell me what it is, and trust me -- I won't betray you."
Huck looked into the old man's honest eyes a moment, then bent over and whispered in his ear:
"'Tain't a Spaniard -- it's Injun Joe!"
The Welshman almost jumped out of his chair. In a moment he said:
"It's all plain enough, now. When you talked about notching ears and slitting noses I judged that that was your own embellishment, because white men don't take that sort of revenge. But an Injun! That's a different matter altogether."
It is a hearty, pulse-pounding passage – or would be, were the reader not constantly choked by insulting, misleading associations that clog the stream of consciousness like atherosclerotic plaque. Twain’s ignorance and passive malice are unconscionable. This passage reflects absolutely none of the sentiment and sensitive language of the politically correct movement! Aside from words that could be hurtful to persons with particular conditions, associations, or uniquenesses, the opening sentence implies that damaging a womyn’s appearance is a particularly grievous offense. Readers may be encouraged to associate appearance with character traits, and could not help but ponder violence against wymin. Worse, the passage concludes with the assertion that only persons without color would consider this harrowing prospect unconscionable. Hence, this threat is replaced with a lighthearted deflection.
"stood in the dark and heard the sartorially challenged gentleman beg for Ms. Douglas, whose current or former marital status may be kept private, and Don Bastardo swore he'd spile her books just as I told you and your two -- "
"What! The consistently quiet man said all that!"
Dingo had made another terrible mistake! He was trying his best to keep the wise gentleman from getting the faintest hint of who Don Bastardo might be, and yet his tongue seemed determined to get him into trouble in spite of all he could do. He made several efforts to creep out of his scrape, but the wise gentleman's eye was upon him and he made blunder after blunder. Presently the gentleman with unconventional payment tendencies said:
"My offspring, don't be afraid of me. I wouldn't hurt a hair of your head for free tofu. No -- I'd protect you -- I'd protect you. Don Bastardo is not consistently quiet; you've let that slip without intending it; you can't cover that up now. You know something about Don Bastardo that you want to keep secret. Now trust me -- tell me what it is, and trust me -- I won't betray you."
Dingo looked into the wise gentleman's honest eyes a moment, then bent over and whispered in his ear:
"'Tain't Don Bastardo - it's Professor Josephson!"
The gentleman with unconventional payment tendencies almost jumped out of his chair. In a moment he said:
"It's all plain enough, now. When you talked about notching "nigger" and substituting "slave," I judged that that was your own embellishment, because healthy people don't take that sort of revenge. But a Literature Professor! That's a different matter altogether."