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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mark Twain and Roger Miller

This first week of 2011 has seen interesting national self-analysis, headlined by the reactions to the senseless shootings in Tucson AZ. Also in the news we have had reports of possible self-censureship from advocates of modifying Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn by replacing the word "nigger" with the word "slave" everywhere it appears. Stated reason for this was to circumvent those who had successully censured the classic from America's classrooms since "nigger" might prove too high a barrier for some to read and appreciate it.
I will set aside consideration of the merits of both sides of this debate. I am admittedly not qualified to discuss or explore how or why a person who is hurt by racially pejorative comments or words might react.
But I wish to posit my perspectve as an alternative for consideration. I believe the entire nation would profit from rehearing, restudying, seeing a Broadway musical from the early 1980s. I would offer as valuable and instructive Roger Miller's BIG RIVER, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. One fascinating aspect of this is that I believe none of the 17 musical numbers in the play contains either the word "nigger" or "slave". What? Didn't Miller realize that the well-known story centers around Huck's friendship with and assistance to Jim and the efforts by bad guys to enslave Jim solely due to race? No matter. The story is clearly told without the specific words that might otherwise keep this artistic work outside the awareness area of 13% of our population.
But I would suggest that the House, instead of doing a fluffy dog and pony show rendition of the Constitution, censured and edited as it was, that they should join together and learn and sing "Worlds Apart". If that doesn't bring genuine tears to Boehner's eyes, then the rest of his time crying on demand is indeed fake.