Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Quittin’ Time

with 5 comments

* Signs of the end times: another flock of dead birds has fallen out of the sky.

* If we’re going to retroactively censor Mark Twain, I’d say “slave” seems significantly more offensive to me than “n*gger” insofar as it accedes to the noxious proposition that some people can be slaves in the first place. People can be enslaved, of course—but no person is a slave. In my own rare writing and teaching on slavery I try to favor “so-called slave” and “enslaved person” in a quiet effort to highlight that slavery is not an essence but a structure of violent domination.

But really we should just leave old books alone.

* The Very Wealthy Man: An Innocent Fable of No Relevance to Contemporary Events.

* 20 years of the ADA.

* Is this tomorrow? American under communism!

* And you know you had me at 75 Sensational Examples Of Sci-Fi Illustration.

5 Responses

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  1. […] pointing out why retroactively censoring Huckleberry Finn is a bad idea, but I think I like what Gerry Canavan says most: If we’re going to retroactively censor Mark Twain, I’d say “slave” seems […]

  2. of course the obvious question is why you censored the less offensive word. tee hee.


    January 4, 2011 at 8:50 pm

  3. Hmm, perhaps you’re playing games with words: “People can be enslaved, of course—but no person is a slave.”

    On the contrary, one can be enslaved only if one allows oneself to be enslaved, thus one becomes a slave.

    But then again, perhaps my thinking is clouded by my Scottish ancestry and my American sensibilites…

    Matt Wallace

    January 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    • The merits of your position aside — I’m not really sure what to do with “allows oneself to be enslaved,” but I’m pretty certain it’s unfair to people who have been enslaved — I’m pretty sure that’s actually an argument not to replace all instances of “n*gger” with “slave.”


      January 6, 2011 at 7:59 pm

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