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Author Topic: The "N" Word  (Read 3444 times)
Azrael
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« Reply #45 on: January 07, 2011, 01:48:45 PM »

It's not a problem that has a "solution."  And I have proposed one way of addressing the issue, a way that I know WORKS, that people know works, and that is talking about it.  Talking about it in places and forums where everyone feels it is okay to bring these issues up.  When I was in Pennsylvania I was involved in a group that organized Race Dialogues where the whole idea was to open up these issues for discussion.  It's been incredibly successful for the group I was involved in, as well as other groups that had organized them to the point where the school offered classes where the sole purpose was to engage students in these kinds of dialogues.  But these dialogues would be especially effective if you can reach students in elementary school, in middle school, where these issues are just beginning to form for them.  This kind of action is a move in the complete opposite direction.  The message is that we shouldn't talk about them, we should just delete it as something from our history that has no bearing on our present.  That's bullshit.  I cannot agree with the sentiment that this is worthwhile if it means putting this book back in classrooms because we're not putting this book back in classrooms, we're putting some bastardized form of it in classrooms.

And I highly highly doubt that this book is going to be widely read in any school just because this one word has been removed.  The core problem in getting that book (and hell most of Twain's books) into schools lies at how critical Twain was of the South, slavery, and racism.  It's one thing to teach slavery objectively as something of the past, but dealing with novels like this it kind of sheds light on present issues that perhaps many people don't want to deal with.  Heck, just reading this topic, that's the feeling I get.  There are deeper issues, issues that maybe Twain had the foresight to see as being long lasting issues, that his novels tackle and yes that word is at the center of many of them.
I also disagree with the sentiment that this is a worthwhile sacrifice if it means getting the book back in the classroom because of the message that this sends out. 
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dyeager
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« Reply #46 on: January 07, 2011, 02:58:26 PM »

Your points are certainly salient ones and the idea of introducing these things at an earlier age is spot on.

I just think that sometimes compromises and baby steps are required. This is a topic nobody wants to talk about in Alabama and is actively avoided. I think you've provided persuasive points as to why that is the wrong way to go about things, but you can't just walk into a place like that and flip on change like a light switch. I definitely think you've identified the problem correctly - an unwillingness to openly discuss these issues - but that very problem is ingrained deeply in a place with so many scars like Alabama, and just demanding a discussion is more likely to turn the people with the power to make these decisions off.

Hence, baby steps. Get that dialogue going with something like Huck Finn, which still deals with these types of issues EVEN IF a word is removed, a word which stirs up controversy even here with people AGREEING on the ultimate solution.

Where we definitely AGREE is that it is silly for one word to get in the way of a healthy dialogue.

Where we definitely disagree is the notion that this is a STEP BACK in creating that dialogue. There are places in this country where the dialogue doesn't exist and is actively avoided, and that doesn't get us anywhere. If taking one word out of the equation STARTS that dialogue rolling, I still think it is an improvement.
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Azrael
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« Reply #47 on: January 07, 2011, 03:30:20 PM »

The problem here is that I don't see this as taking steps towards that discussion precisely because it's not the word that is the issue in places like that.  You can take that word out all you want, it's not going to get that book in those schools, not when Twain is known for his sharp and harsh criticisms of slavery, racism and especially the South.  The discussion can't be started this way because it is a compromise that SHOULDN'T be made.  It's a compromise towards a history of blatant disregard for what should be fundamental human rights.  I'd rather the book not get changed and not be touched until a proper dialogue is started, than the dialogue be started in this way.  Part of the problem is that too many people, especially whites, feel like discussions such as this, and books such as this, are attacks on them as opposed to the symbolic "white man" and power structure that put those things in place.  It's a foolish sentiment when today in the US many people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds hold a higher level of privilege than many around the world.  I'm digressing, but my point is that this is something that, I feel, can't in any way be compromised without taking a step in the wrong direction.  I get your point, but I feel it sends all the wrong messages to all the wrong people.
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dyeager
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« Reply #48 on: January 07, 2011, 03:42:59 PM »

Fair enough.

You may be correct and this new edition might not find its way into any schools like you are saying, at which point I would have to consider it a failure.

What we do know, though, is that trying to just get people to talk about this history of racism openly in some places hasn't worked. Although I personally find the removal of the word from the work distasteful, I can not bring myself to object to anybody trying to do what they can to get folks closer to a state where discussing these complex issues becomes easier.

I also can't agree with your characterization that the removal of the word is somehow a compromise towards "a history of blatant disregard for what should be fundamental human rights". I think it is a compromise toward those who would simply rather not talk about it, whether due to the memories or feelings this word dredges up, concern over litigation for using the word, or plain old fashioned cowardice.
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Prime Mover
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« Reply #49 on: January 07, 2011, 03:54:58 PM »

I dropped it once in the worst way possible, and I can't ever think what got into me. I had it in a stupid class video project. I did an amazingly stupid animated video using Mario figures jumping around. It was the kind of thing a 6th Grader would make, and I did it in a college A/V class in front of all my fellow majors. I did the voice in Mac Text to Speech synthesis, trying to do synth hiphop and it dropped a slight variation of the N-Bomb right in the middle of the video. Everyone in the class gasped. To this day, it remains one of the most embarrassing and dumbass things I've ever done. The entire video sucked too. It was called "Mario vs. George W Bush". I think I made it in the middle of the night, all night, with no sleep. That's the only excuse I can come up with :(
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Azrael
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« Reply #50 on: January 07, 2011, 05:24:18 PM »

In my opinion each of those reasons has their roots in the history of oppression tied to the word and that we should in no way cater to those feelings.  I understand your feelings on the issue, and I understand why so many people share them.  But personally, I am very unflinching on my feelings for this and believe that the kind of change necessary in this case, regarding this word, and race relations in general, must be unflinching.  It's one of the few areas in which I am this uncompromising.
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Aeolus
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« Reply #51 on: January 09, 2011, 01:56:08 PM »

My problem with this is why their wasting their time on their current vision quest instead of going after a more menacing word like lame. I'm pretty sure that word is corrupting our children and making them into insensitive ignorant racist bigots who belittle crippled individuals with every use of the word. Plus it's not like people should read all of those books that resort to the using such crass and unrefined dialog until its fixed. Yep, all of those countless books that use the word lame because we've been writing about that poor repressed demographic since the first one of those lame people was encountered by western civilization.

Of course, it's far more likely that they'll go after the word dick first, and welp, now suddenly well over half of the RPGFan site and everyone on it is considered insensitive ignorant racist bigots.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #52 on: January 09, 2011, 03:31:08 PM »

some boring shit

lame post is lame
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Aeolus
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« Reply #53 on: January 10, 2011, 10:55:13 PM »


I take it that your sarcasm detector must be broken.

And this quote chain has produced some irony as well.
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