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What Form Does Censorship Take in the 21st-Century?

Mark Twain used words in Huck Finn which are highly offensive to people of color, but he also supported several black university students, including one at Yale Law School. He did so because, as he states in an 1885 letter to Francis Wayland (the Dean of Yale Law School), white people had a debt to pay to the former slaves:

We have ground the manhood out of them, & the shame is ours, not theirs, & we should pay for it.

This was the same year in which Twain published Huck Finn.

Warner T. McGuinn, the African-American Yale Law student whom Twain supported, went on to become a highly respected, distinguished lawyer. Of him, Supreme-Court Justice Thurgood Marshall declared:

He was one of the greatest lawyers who ever lived. If he had been white, he'd have been a judge.

Using the “n word,” in today's America, is highly offensive to African-Americans.  Twain uses the word throughout the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because that is the way people talked at the time he wrote the story.  Do you think the word should be removed from the book?  Why, or why not?

Do you think changing words, which an author wrote many years ago, amounts to a form of censorship?  Why, or why not?

Do you think it is fair to look at Twain, or any other, with 21st-century eyes - or - do you think it is fair to assess authors as people “of their time?” Explain your answer.


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