Should Huck Finn Banned Schools Essay
Should "Huckleberry Finn" Be Taught In High Schools?
"At the heart of Huckleberry Finn lies a story about real human figures with genuine moral and ethical problems and decisions..." (Lauriat 26). This statement reveals the true nature of Twain's controversial novel by looking at the deeper messages of the book. This novel is a hot debate topic in any English classroom because many find it hard to look past the few racist epithets that are repeated and analyze the issues that the author, Mark Twain, addresses. Supporters of the novel state that because Twain was a "product of his time," his book reveals the harsh stereotypes of that period, something that must be looked at more closely. Opponents claim that the continuous racial insults void the book of any true substance.
Controversy cannot be avoided with the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but analyzing this controversy is what is important to high school students. Despite being occasionally depicted in negative ways, the numerous positive portrayals of African Americans make this novel quite appropriate for high schools because it obligates high school students to analyze and understand how blacks overcame the stereotypes against them in the Southern society. Twain constantly criticizes the white society by proving just how strong and competent blacks were during the racist period, and students must be able to analyze these criticisms. Throughout the novel, Jim is constantly shown as a positive figure, characterized by paternal qualities, selfless deeds, and his assertion of his intelligence, while the racist white characters are depicted as narrow-minded when they criticize Jim.
First, however, critics of this book feel it is inappropriate for classroom because of some of the racial epithets. One such example is the repeated use of the word "nigger" to describe a black person. As an African American school teacher states, "It is very difficult for my students and it is difficult for me...The use of the N-word (the word 'nigger' appears more than 200 times) and the way Jim is depicted as so childish is hard for them" (Smith n.p.). However, this single detail should not be used as the basis for banning the book. The term "nigger" is how slaves were referred to at that time, and because the word was so widely used in the South, Twain uses it a number of times to correctly portray the times. Furthermore, African...
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Free speech in America officially began on December 15, 1791, the day the First Amendment was ratified. Our founding fathers were a group of very smart men and women of all races, religions, and gender identities. And they understood that, hundreds of years later, the Constitutional principles of 1791 would remain unchanged. Our most important freedom, aside from having sex in airplane bathrooms, is the right to express one's beliefs.
When I was a kid, we'd hear about the crazy conservative religious zealots trying to ban books from public libraries and trying to ban songs from being played on the radio. But that has changed. Today, crazy conservative religious zealots are busy battling it out in Republican presidential debates. Meanwhile, it's the liberal left at the forefront of stopping unpopular ideas.
The United States has gone batshit crazy... oops, didn't mean to offend anyone with offensive language; I meant to write "batshit mentally ill."
It was disturbing to read that a Philadelphia high school eliminated The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from its English curriculum. A group of students in the school said the book made them "uncomfortable." Yes, it's important that we encourage kids to stay within their comfort zone. The school's principal said that the book was "challenging for some students, who felt the school was not being inclusive." But what's wrong with feeling "challenged?" As a moviegoer, I'll never forget, in Dead Poets Society, when Robin Williams challenged his students to seize the day by avoiding anything that might be challenging. Very inspiring. Carpe Don't.
The school's principal went on to say, "I do not believe that we're censoring. I really do believe that this is an opportunity for the school to step forward and listen to the students." We're not even allowed to use words like "censoring" or "banned" anymore. Do you see the irony? As I explained to the policeman who stopped me on the highway for going eighty-two, "I do not believe that I was speeding. I believe this was simply my opportunity to drive fast." Nevertheless, I'm not sure I'd call removing the most important work of literature in American history to be a "step forward." Oh, and by the way, the students also hate math. So get rid of it.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an exciting, poetic tale, incorporating many of the same issues of racism and intolerance that we still grapple with today. First published in 1884, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has stood the test of time, a work of genius that challenges (and, in 2015, reminds) one to think about the effects of slavery and society's complex morality. So what book are you going to replace it with? Eat, Pray, Love?
Yeah, I get it. This situation in Philadelphia is not really a Constitutional thing. There was no government ban. However, social censorship is like Mike Tyson biting the ear off of our nation's ideals. Words are just words. Yet there has been a metamorphosis in the decline of free speech; we've gone from being challenged to being offended to being outraged to feeling marginalized. Heck, I go through this same emotional transformation anytime I read Kylie Jenner's tweets. But that doesn't mean we should ban the stuff Kylie says... I mean, if she actually said anything.
Listen, as a general rule, I totally support the complete removal, from every aspect of society, of absolutely anything related to absolutely anyone who says absolutely anything that might be remotely offensive to absolutely anyone. And if the only way to stop the horror of hurt feelings is total censorship of anything anyone might be actually thinking, then so be it.
But The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is written objectively, without exaggeration or hyperbole or hate. The language in the novel is the language that was used at the time. We can't deny the terrible past by pretending it didn't exist. If we could, well then let's agree that all those Barbara Walters celebrity interview specials never happened. (Barbara Walters thinks that Bradley Cooper is one of the ten most fascinating people of the year? You could probably wave around a piece of string in front of Barbara Walters and she would think it was fascinating... as long as the string was famous. And in other news, beige is one of the most fascinating colors of the year.)
And bringing this back to the Kardashians (since everything eventually comes back around to the Kardashians)...
Words are like Kardashian boyfriends and husbands; when they go away, they're immediately replaced - with a noticeable drop in quality.
Don't think for one moment that the deterioration of Mark Twain's grand ideas will leave us with an empty space. Rather, that space quickly gets filled with trite, shallow, politically-correct nonsense posing as something relevant.
Free speech has been replaced by me speech. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn isn't about you. But the outrage over its existence is about you. The controversy is about you. And whatever crap you're replacing it with is about you. Mark Twain wrote about the American spirit. Free speech has been replaced with somehow making every single fucking thing about your precious, easily-offended feelings. It's all about you.
Free speech has been replaced by fake speech. The annoying exaggeration and hyperbole that now fills up the American lexicon are directly related to the erosion of real expression.
It's remarkable how people today are so intimidated not just by grand ideas- but by the subtlety and ambiguity often encompassed within those ideas. And when their generalities are challenged, the response is not a thoughtful, articulate reply. Rather, it's to pout and demand things cater to their personal comfort.
Well, censoring The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is wrong. You're wrong. The world doesn't always fit comfortably into your simplistic, idealistic self-importance. Nor should it. And now grand ideas have been replaced with ridiculous overstatements, with nobody around to say, "But maybe you're wrong." Actually, there are people saying that. But you're not listening. Because to be confronted with a different view is offensive.
Game of Thrones is not the greatest show in the history of television. Neither is Breaking Bad. Nor is The Walking Dead or Orange is the New Black or Homeland or Downton Abbey. They're all good shows. But just because you enjoy a quality show does not make it the greatest show in the history of television.
You just watched a show you dislike? Doesn't make it the worst show in the history of television. Everything you dislike is not the worst thing ever. (Well, okay, unless maybe you just watched 2 Broke Girls.)
Every movie you like is not a four-star film. Every good movie does not "deserve to be nominated for best picture." Every movie at the Sundance Film Festival is not the greatest movie ever made.
Every movie you hate is not the worst movie ever made. Every bad movie is not a "piece of shit." Every stupid big-budget action movie does not "signal the end of Hollywood."
Everything is not a travesty. A star football player having to wait until the second round to be drafted is not a travesty. Your romantic breakup was not a travesty. The Star Wars prequels were not a travesty. Okay, Jar Jar Binks was a travesty. But (spoiler alert) I fast forward through the Jar Jar scenes.
You don't have the greatest friends in the whole wide world. Did your friend donate their kidney to you? No? Then what did he or she do to deserve the "greatest" title? Yeah, they took you out for a drink that time you were feeling down. Woo hoo! Throw them a goddamn parade and pin a "greatest friend ever" medal on their freakin' shirt.
Everyone with whom you disagree politically is not evil. All Republicans are not evil. All Democrats are not evil. Adolph Hitler was evil. I can't stand Rush Limbaugh and Rosie O'Donnell, either. But neither of them invaded Poland.
And stop comparing everyone to Hitler. Hitler murdered 12 million people for the crime of being different. George Bush was not Hitler. Barack Obama is not Hitler. Only Hitler was Hitler. And maybe Tom Brady.
Calm your fragile, political sensitivities down.
You're not moving to Canada if Donald Trump becomes president. You're not going to go live in a bunker if Hillary Clinton becomes president. You're not going to change a single thing about your lifestyle. There. Now go back to posting your political Facebook memes.
Yes, I agree the thought of a president Trump is pretty scary and somewhat embarrassing. But haven't you been listening to his speeches? Once he gets into office, he's going to bring in the best, most phenomenal people ever to advise him.
Yes, you like that singer's album. It doesn't make them a musical "genius." Everyone is not a musical genius. In fact, nobody is a musical genius. Albert Einstein was an actual genius. Some people are gifted with vast musical talent and ability. But some dudes are gifted with the talent and ability to fart loud; they're not farting geniuses.
Everyone isn't a hero. Everyone isn't brilliant. And your boyfriend isn't so amazing.
Everything isn't phenomenal. Every stroke of good luck isn't a miracle. Every coincidence isn't eerie. The Grand Canyon is extraordinary. Your graduation party? Not so much.
And this doesn't put things into "perspective." Stop saying that! Nothing puts anything else into perspective. We don't need a deadly hurricane to put the insignificance of a baseball game into perspective. If you don't already know what is and is not important, you're a moron... which really puts most of your opinions into perspective.
Your occupational choice doesn't, by definition, make you a hero. Having a disease doesn't, by definition, make you brave. And, by definition, nothing you do, say, admit, express, reveal, display, perform, apologize for, or acknowledge on YouTube, The View, or the cover of any major magazine makes you courageous. The self-absorbed attempt to become more famous doesn't take courage; it takes gall. And, yes, that includes you, the guy who lost 300 pounds but is insecure about all the extra loose skin.
No actor, athlete, politician, or wealthy entrepreneur ever deserves an award for being an actor, an athlete, a politician, or a wealthy entrepreneur. Those most deserving of acclaim are those whose selfless acts usually go unnoticed and unappreciated by the masses. Off the top of my head, I can name at least four-thousand people more deserving of accolades than whoever wins next year's Best Supporting Extra in a Television Mini-Series or Dog Food Commercial or whatever the frick they're crapping out awards for these days.
Get the hell over yourself, America!
You want to censor speech? Then let's ban the following expressions...
"... shocked the nation."
"... an unimaginable crime..."
"... did the unthinkable..."
Slavery existed up until 1865. For the next hundred years, people of different races were legally, violently segregated in schools, restaurants, hotels, etc. If America really lost its innocence every time I heard someone on the news say that America lost its innocence, then America's current innocence would fall somewhere between Bernie Madoff and a pretty young Russian woman marrying a sweaty old guy for the green card.
We have reached the hyperbolic fake outrage zenith. Hence, it's no longer enough that we just pretend to be incensed over semi-offensive moments of minor significance. It's no longer enough to slightly praise that which is sort of kind of impressive. Now we must dig through the dirt of random tweets and off-hand remarks and private phone conversations -- absurd ridiculousness of absolutely no social significance whatsoever -- to pronounce outrage and to call on their banishment. And we have to scour the Internet in search of pointless feel-good stories to celebrate and pseudo-heroes to applaud. And where does all this ridiculousness start? A school administrator, succumbing to pressure, eliminates Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the curriculum.
Nevertheless, intelligent people can distinguish between the serious and the silly, the important and the trivial. And rational people can articulate the reasons why certain circumstances are inappropriate and should even be eliminated, rather than form an immediate and hypocritical self-congratulatory mob-like screech to vanish whatever they happen to find offensive that day. Or at least they used to... back when being rational wasn't the worst thing in the world... back when teenagers still read Mark Twain in school.
Without hyperbole, without exaggeration, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the most important novel in American history. And it should be treated with respect.
Follow Galanty Miller on Twitter: www.twitter.com/galantymiller