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#13889 - 01/22/11 10:29 PM Re: Money For Nothing [Re: dboh]
Hal Itosis Offline


Registered: 09/03/09
Loc: 10.6.8 (build 10K549)
I was watching a movie on tv one day, starring Janet Jackson and Tupak Shakur. (Back in the 90's i think -- don't recall its title, could google later maybe). Anyway... after a flurry of highly gratuitous n-words were uttered in a very short period of time, i decided to start counting them. I stopped counting at 100... and the show hadn't ended yet.

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#13890 - 01/22/11 10:43 PM Re: Money For Nothing [Re: dboh]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Quoted from your linked article:

Quote:
I explained that saying the word made me extremely uncomfortable, that it was not a word I ever used, some black people still used it (the "n-word") sometimes to refer to each other, but that was importantly different, and that black people I had known were just as uncomfortable using the word around white people as white people were using it around them. (Emphasis added)

Don't you think the highlighted text is gratuitous without an explicit explanation?

(I've reposted my edits to this post in a new post to ensure that everybody sees them.)


Edited by artie505 (01/23/11 01:58 AM)
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#13893 - 01/23/11 01:57 AM Re: Money For Nothing [Re: artie505]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Expanding on my earlier post:

Also, "black people I had known were just as uncomfortable using the word around white people" suggests that those black people were comfortable using it among themselves, i.e. considered it acceptable among themselves, to which I'll repeat my earlier statement that "I've long been of the opinion that the use of a word considered a slur, in ordinary context, by the slurred, dignifies it and makes its use by everybody well... if not acceptable, less than intolerable."

I think that piece opens up more worm-cans than it closes and doesn't deserve to see the light of day in the form in which it is presented.

(And, by the way, the (Auburn) article linked to in the article mentions that "Injun" has also been edited out of the book.)
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#13914 - 01/24/11 10:16 AM Re: Money For Nothing [Re: artie505]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
too many people's brains just short out and behavior goes irrational when they hear the wrong words. really that needs to just stop but I don't see it happening anytime soon.

imho, the reactions to the words is far worse than the words themselves. You can't get rid of the words, you need to fix the way people react to them.

so, I feel the problem is not the words, but the way people react to them.
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#13924 - 01/24/11 08:21 PM Re: Money For Nothing [Re: Virtual1]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: Virtual1
too many people's brains just short out and behavior goes irrational when they hear the wrong words. really that needs to just stop but I don't see it happening anytime soon.

imho, the reactions to the words is far worse than the words themselves. You can't get rid of the words, you need to fix the way people react to them.

so, I feel the problem is not the words, but the way people react to them.

Deep wounds sometimes require inordinately long periods of time to heal, and I'm afraid that people just don't understand that.

Back when Heinlein's Stranger In A Strange Land was hot stuff, when people were scrawling "grok" on any and every surface, I found Michael Smith's "when waiting is filled" to be the meaningful words in the book, but, unfortunately, I also found them to be incomprehensible to most people. (Still do! frown )

I don't expect the words to ever go away, but I do expect people's reactions to them to s...l...ooo...w...l...y mellow.

It took 40 years from Dr. King's assassination for us to get a black man in the White House, but I'll bet you could have gotten some exceptional odds on that had you been crazy enough to believe that waiting would be filled in such a short period of time and placed your bet in 1968.
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#14014 - 02/02/11 09:31 PM Re: Money For Nothing [Re: dboh]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Originally Posted By: dboh
Roger, that word was just as much a slur back when Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn as it is today. Twain meant it that way. If you in fact want to teach what Twain meant, then you need to include the word. Substituting "slave" is pitiful.


I actually don't think that's true.

It was a slur, yes, but its emotional impact then wasn't the same as its emotional impact today. I've been told repeatedly, by a number of different folks, that the emotional impact of the "N-word" is so much greater now than it was even, say forty years ago, that the book becomes almost unreadable to many folks today.

In any event, I would not call it 'revisionist history' in any realistic sense of the word. Certainly, nobody's ceasing publication of the original, nor attempting to say that any particular historical event didn't happen. If someone were to say that slavery didn't exist, or that all Africans came to this country voluntarily prior to the Civil War, or that slavery wan't really all that bad, that'd be revisionist history.

There is one potential benefit I see of this book. It's quite likely that this version of the book will be allowed in public schools that currently ban the original--and that, of and by itself, might give teachers the opportunity to open dialog on the subject. If I were such a teacher, I would begin my introduction to the book with "Today we are going to start reading Huckleberry Finn. The version you're about to read is different from the one Mark Twain wrote in this way, and here's why..."
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#14026 - 02/03/11 03:40 PM Re: Money For Nothing [Re: tacit]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: tacit
I've been told repeatedly, by a number of different folks, that the emotional impact of the "N-word" is so much greater now than it was even, say forty years ago, that the book becomes almost unreadable to many folks today.

I cannot fathom why any of those people would say that.

I have lived long enough that I can recall a time when the word had no meaning whatsoever to me. I remember, as a kid, buying a candy called N-Babies and at Christmas we always had Brazil nuts, but they were called N-toes. Nobody thought anything of it.

Then as a young man in the sixties , the real emotion-filled meaning of the word, as it was used elsewhere, became very clear. However, I also heard Lenny Bruce preach about words being given power by suppressing them. He had a routine called: "Are there any N's here tonight?" He would follow that word with a whole series of other epithets based on religions, racial backgrounds, nationalities et cetera. He believed that, if you used a word often enough, it would lose its meaning.

I think he was right. I also wonder if that isn't part of the rationale behind the N-word's widespread use in a lot of music and other art forms today. Are the artists trying to kick the crap out of the word by using it so much that nobody continues to notice? Is Lenny Bruce rolling over in his grave because people undermine the efforts of those artists by using the euphemism "N-word"?

Making a link from the sixties until today.........a few nights ago I watched a rerun of the 1967 movie "In the Heat of the Night" (Poitier/Steiger), a movie that uses the N-word several times. I have not heard or seen a single complaint in any medium. Maybe the aforementioned artists are succeeding.

Originally Posted By: tacit
If I were such a teacher, I would begin my introduction to the book with "Today we are going to start reading Huckleberry Finn. The version you're about to read is different from the one Mark Twain wrote in this way, and here's why..."

I could not agree more that teachers should have their students discuss and debate the novel and the use of the N-word. However, if a teacher is going to open the discussion, what's the advantage of beginning with an expurgated version of the story? It seems to me that students mature enough to have the discussion must be also mature enough to read the original words.

ryck


Edited by ryck (02/03/11 04:05 PM)
Edit Reason: Spelling
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#14032 - 02/03/11 04:23 PM Re: Money For Nothing [Re: ryck]
dkmarsh Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09

Quote:
I could not agree more that teachers should have their students discuss and debate the novel and the use of the N-word. However, if a teacher is going to open the discussion, what's the advantage of beginning with an expurgated version of the story? It seems to me that students mature enough to have the discussion must be also mature enough to read the original words.

I imagine the difference has everything to do with liability or the perception thereof. By this hypothesis, the educational infrastructure fears that presenting the original unexpurgated work may be taken as somehow endorsing the use of the word. And since all manner of interest groups have nowadays found their voices with respect to what they find offensive, the educational powers-that-be don't want to be found insensitive to the preferences of such groups.

To present the redacted version as part of an official curriculum is to refuse to legitimize the word. I'm not saying I agree with this reasoning, but it does make at least a modicum of sense.

I'm more irritated by PRI's insistence on bleeping profanity from "spellbinding short stories by established and emerging writers" deemed of sufficient cultural value to be read to a concert-hall audience by "stars of the stage and screen."
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#14047 - 02/04/11 06:39 AM Re: Money For Nothing [Re: ryck]
joemikeb Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: ryck
I could not agree more that teachers should have their students discuss and debate the novel and the use of the N-word. However, if a teacher is going to open the discussion, what's the advantage of beginning with an expurgated version of the story? It seems to me that students mature enough to have the discussion must be also mature enough to read the original words.

In today's "not child left behind" classroom unless the "n" word is on the state test there is no time available for the discussion you propose. Besides that if a parent should complain because the teacher used the "n" word, regardless of the context, that teacher would be looking for a new job the next morning.
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#14050 - 02/04/11 08:58 AM Re: Money For Nothing [Re: joemikeb]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Which all goes to show that the K-12 educational system(s) should be chucked in their entirety and then be reconstructed on the model from the 1950s and early 1960s (ie, before "new math", "ebonics", and their ilk).
Maybe even reinstitute respect for teachers without their having to pander to special interests (including parents, helicopter or otherwise).
That would be a truly elegant "retro" plan with solid results.
(And let's leave '50s battlegrounds such as Brooklyn schools out of the equation. They were great for teachers, who got hazard [read: war] pay, but did nothing for the inmates. The "blackboard jungle" was indeed a reality, not just a groovy motion picture.}

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#14051 - 02/04/11 09:14 AM Re: Money For Nothing [Re: joemikeb]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
Besides that if a parent should complain because the teacher used the "n" word, regardless of the context, that teacher would be looking for a new job the next morning.

That's really unfortunate on at least a couple of levels. The idea that a single complaint could generate such a drastic result is appalling. It sounds somehow undemocratic that one individual could cause such a change affecting the many.

Secondly, I can't imagine how any teacher can educate properly if they have to work under such a cloud. How can they possibly teach tolerance of any kind if they have to worry that it might cost them their job?

This could be the worst consequence because teachers, who are the role models with most exposure to the young, are best positioned to change attitudes. As Helen Keller said: "The highest result of education is tolerance."

Again, maybe it's the administrative ideas, not literary works, that need to be fixed.

ryck


Edited by ryck (02/04/11 09:20 AM)
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#14052 - 02/04/11 09:48 AM Re: Money For Nothing [Re: dkmarsh]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: dkmarsh
I imagine the difference has everything to do with liability or the perception thereof. By this hypothesis, the educational infrastructure fears that presenting the original unexpurgated work may be taken as somehow endorsing the use of the word. And since all manner of interest groups have nowadays found their voices with respect to what they find offensive, the educational powers-that-be don't want to be found insensitive to the

The problem, in my mind, is that many of these interest groups have very narrow interests to match their narrow minds. It's not a problem restricted to the U.S. We had a huge commotion here when schools introduced books that showed families with both parents of the same sex.

The opposition ranged from outright bias to the idea that young minds shouldn't be "exposed to such ideas".

I thought about one of my daughters who, when she was very young, had a best friend whose parents were a natural father, who was gay, and his male partner. It was different than other parental couples my daughter was familiar with but she never thought there was something wrong. On her own she simply concluded that parents were just two people who loved one another.

I don't recall any of her other friends thinking differently. Apparently young minds "exposed to such ideas" are able to come to more rational conclusions that the adults who profess to be protecting them.

ryck


Edited by ryck (02/04/11 09:53 AM)
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#14063 - 02/04/11 11:08 PM Re: Money For Nothing [Re: ryck]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Originally Posted By: ryck
Originally Posted By: tacit
I've been told repeatedly, by a number of different folks, that the emotional impact of the "N-word" is so much greater now than it was even, say forty years ago, that the book becomes almost unreadable to many folks today.

I cannot fathom why any of those people would say that.


Neither can I, personally. However, I have not had the experience of growing up black in American society, nor had to deal with the day-to-day racism that is still way too prevalent. As a privileged member of society, it's not my place or within my ability to comment on someone else's pain.

Originally Posted By: ryck
I could not agree more that teachers should have their students discuss and debate the novel and the use of the N-word. However, if a teacher is going to open the discussion, what's the advantage of beginning with an expurgated version of the story? It seems to me that students mature enough to have the discussion must be also mature enough to read the original words.


I think that's more a school administration thing than a schoolteacher thing. I can easily see where school administrators might not permit the original version but might permit the edited version, at which point it falls to the teachers to actually open that dialog.

Originally Posted By: dkmarsh
To present the redacted version as part of an official curriculum is to refuse to legitimize the word. I'm not saying I agree with this reasoning, but it does make at least a modicum of sense.


I can see that line of reasoning, as well, and I can even endorse it. At the end of the day, I'm a pragmatist. I think that Mark Twain's writings are an extremely important part of the American story. If this lets more people be exposed to them, then that's an end result I can get behind.

Originally Posted By: grelber
Which all goes to show that the K-12 educational system(s) should be chucked in their entirety and then be reconstructed on the model from the 1950s and early 1960s (ie, before "new math", "ebonics", and their ilk).


"New math" is just arithmetic and algebra. The "old math" it replaced is, frankly, bizarre. For example, have you ever seen how to subtract two large numbers the old way? It is, frankly, a Byzantine process.

Originally Posted By: ryck
Secondly, I can't imagine how any teacher can educate properly if they have to work under such a cloud. How can they possibly teach tolerance of any kind if they have to worry that it might cost them their job?

This could be the worst consequence because teachers, who are the role models with most exposure to the young, are best positioned to change attitudes. As Helen Keller said: "The highest result of education is tolerance."


Heh That's nothing. In American society, we are so terrified of anything even remotely controversial that we only just barely stop short of requiring all teachers to be celibate virgins. God help any public school teacher who is, or is rumored to be, gay or otherwise in any sort of non-traditional relationship at all, or who has ever in the past, even before becoming a teacher, been involved in any sort of non-traditional relationship.

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#14074 - 02/05/11 04:05 PM Re: Money For Nothing [Re: tacit]
dboh Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Quote:
It was a slur, yes, but its emotional impact then wasn't the same as its emotional impact today.


I don't think so at all. If anything, the target of the remark would have been more reticent to express an objection back then.

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#14079 - 02/06/11 11:03 AM Re: Money For Nothing [Re: tacit]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: tacit
However, I have not had the experience of growing up black in American society, nor had to deal with the day-to-day racism that is still way too prevalent. As a privileged member of society, it's not my place or within my ability to comment on someone else's pain.

Click! That would be the sound of the light going on.

I hadn't realized until now just who you were speaking of specifically. I had just gone on the assumption that people of various backgrounds will have discomfort with the word, much like the fact than many non-Jews, for example, are appalled at the names used for them.

However, given your clarification, neither would I presume to comment on the pain of a person who's lived it. Without any intention of being indelicate, I would add that these folks are not compelled to read an unexpurgated version any more than a native American who is repelled by "Injun Joe".

It would be interesting to know who holds the opposite view, and say: "Hey! Don't sweep this under the rug. We don't want anyone to forget that, as ugly as it is, it's part of our history in North America."

In the end, I think we can agree that it, or other forms of bigotry, will never end until we get children talking about it in the absence of bigoted adults.

Originally Posted By: tacit
In American society, we are so terrified of anything even remotely controversial that we only just barely stop short of requiring all teachers to be celibate virgins. God help any public school teacher who is, or is rumored to be, gay or otherwise in any sort of non-traditional relationship at all, or who has ever in the past, even before becoming a teacher, been involved in any sort of non-traditional relationship.

One can only wonder how many new Jane Elliotts are not allowed to blossom when school boards are themselves so bigoted.

ryck


Edited by ryck (02/06/11 11:08 AM)
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#14094 - 02/07/11 01:42 PM Re: Money For Nothing [Re: dboh]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Originally Posted By: dboh
Quote:
It was a slur, yes, but its emotional impact then wasn't the same as its emotional impact today.


I don't think so at all. If anything, the target of the remark would have been more reticent to express an objection back then.


I'm not in a position to say; I'm not the target of that particular slur. I do know that it has been expressed to me that it is more painful now than it was fifty or even twenty years ago.

Originally Posted By: ryck
In the end, I think we can agree that it, or other forms of bigotry, will never end until we get children talking about it in the absence of bigoted adults.


I recently was part of a rather lengthy discussion on the topic of racism and bigotry on another forum.

Part of the issue isn't simply individual bigotry. There are still openly racist, bigoted people who are pleased to thump their chests and spout off about the supremacy of the white race, sure, but they're actually fairly uncommon.

The more insidious problem is the forms of racial privilege that are utterly invisible, even to people who are not themselves overtly racist. It's very difficult for someone who's white to even see all the various advantages he has in American society; when we grow up living in an environment of privilege, that privilege becomes as invisible to us as air.

And because it's so invisible, even people who aren't racist and who don't harbor bigotries still make assumptions about what it's like to be a member of another race without taking into account the fact that we have those advantages. Just by benefitting from advantages that we neither earned nor asked for--advantages which, half the time, we don't even SEE--we can inadvertently promote a vey subtle sort of institutionalized racism, without being overtly racist ourselves at all.

And because those subtle forces are so institutionalized, simply removing bigoted adults from the equation won't likely make them go away.

There's an awesome essay called Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack that talks about those invisible advantages that white skin confers. It was written by Peggy McIntosh, a woman's studies professor who kept beating her head against the fact that men hold an advantaged position in American society but often refuse to acknowledge, or even see, their own privileged state. She turned that observation on herself and asked the question "Do I have privileges that I don't see, as well?"

The result is really worth reading, I think. I can't recommend the essay enough.

Originally Posted By: ryck
One can only wonder how many new Jane Elliotts are not allowed to blossom when school boards are themselves so bigoted.


Indeed. By catering to moral panic and enforcing an unrealistic standard that tries to treat schoolteachers as identical, chase, sexless entities with no lives outside the classroom, we deny kids the ability to learn some very important lessons, including the notion that who a person sleeps with or in what position really has no bearing on that person's worth, dignity, or ability to do a job.

And that robs everyone of something valuable, I think.
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