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> What Sense-Wilson and her daughter seem to be having trouble grasping is that the "savages" in the book are only called "savages" because the mainstream society which they aren't a part of is so perverted. In reality, Huxley's savages are indeed the heroes…

Indeed. The “savage” reads Shakespeare, which no one else in the book does anymore, for example.

It’s just like people wanting to ban Huck Finn because it uses the word “nigger,” without realizing the friendship between Huck and Jim shows just how silly racism actually is, or how the novel basically satirizes slave ownership by making Huck explicitly contemplate the “immorality” of helping a slave escape.




What we really need is some good civil disobedience on the part of teachers. When my highschool schooldistrict banned Huck Finn, my 10th grade english teacher assigned it as an optional assignment with a shitton of bonus credit. He explained why he was willing to do this by pointing out that teachers have an absolutely nuts union. They couldn't do more than give him a slap on the wrist.

Now, is Huck Finn that important as a piece of literature? Arguably. However what definitely was important was that all his students learned a good lesson about censorship and having a proper disrespect for authority when needed.


I'm not sure that's true. Civil Disobedience is a tool to draw attention to a broken system. So in the 1950s and 1960s I don't believe most white Americans realized segregation was a problem (remember segregation was largely gone from the North and West by 1950: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_segregation_in_the_Unite...). So Civil Disobedience was necessary to draw people's attention to the problems still in the South.

Here almost everyone knows this woman is crazy they just don't want to confront her on it. So the civil disobedience you suggest would draw attention to the wrong problem (censorship) and leave the right problem (crazy people getting their way) untouched.


Is it really "crazy people getting their way" when the crazy person complains, the school says, "oh yeah, it's banned, uh huh", and then everyone reads it anyway? To me, that sounds more like getting the crazy person to STFU as quickly as possible.

Sometimes you have to pretend to throw your principles away until the next shiny object comes along.


Yeah, and the next shiny thing that comes along is personal freedom, free speech and some "crazy person" complains and you just "pretend" to throw away your principles to make them shut up.

'and then everyone reads it anyway' And when the time comes some simpleton that just takes orders and follows the law to the letter will come and throw you into prison for reading it.

Are you serious?


What I'm saying is this:

Person A: "I hate foo."

Person B: "Oh, yeah, me too, it's banned."

Person A: "Great!"

Person B: "NOT!"

but person A is already bored with the issue, so everyone is happy.


They also learned that having a good union makes it difficult to be fired.


It seems to me that in case such as this the ones who ban the book haven't really read it. Anyone who reads "Brave New World" and actually thinks about it will see its true message, and anyone who reads "Huck Finn" and actually thinks about it won't find its use of the word "nigger" objectionable.

The problem is that it is easier to jump to a conclusion than it is to stop and think.


> The problem is that it is easier to jump to a conclusion than it is to stop and think.

I think the problem is that our society gives in to stupid people if they scream loud enough. There always has been and always will be fools in the world. People who don't think, don't read and jump to anger as their first reaction.

The difference here is the fool got her way because a school board full of people not wanting to cause trouble backed down rather than confront her.


I think you've nailed it. Bill Maher asked the media '[C]ould you please stop pitting the ignorant vs. the educated and framing it as a "debate."' Acknowledging ignorant views and handling those who hold them with kids gloves is just another of many possible paths to Idiocracy.


Careful.

One of the cornerstones of democracy is that the ignorant will chose who also governs the educated if they are numerous enough.


> The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. - Winston Churchill

Sadly true...


s/cornerstones of/major bugs in/ There. Fixed that for you.


No. It is one of the cornerstones. Democracy is about being treated as equal according to the law . Anyone who thought that was a bug and tried to "fix it" ended up bringing authoritarianism, slavery and less liberty.


One could argue that it's the nature of democracy to equalize stupid people to smart people.

Of course, there's a subtle distinction between treating all people the same, and giving in to 'fools', that is left as an exercise to the prospective citizen.


  The problem is that it is easier to jump to a conclusion
  than it is to stop and think.
Which is, in some ways, a theme in Brave New World.


> anyone who reads "Huck Finn" and actually thinks about it won't find its use of the word "nigger" objectionable.

I've read Huck Finn (and Tom Sawyer) as required in high school. I am also black. As a product of it's day, I understand the context in which the language is being used but that didn't make it any less demeaning and frankly the only effect it had on me was to make me not want to read any more Mark Twain works. Requiring me to read these works and expecting me to appreciate its message is a lot like saying you should admire the boxing skills of the mugger who's beating you up.

I am perfectly fine with allowing students to study these works on their own or to write reports on them, but I don't think students should be required to read them.


I find your comment as baffling as the article under discussion and for much the same reason.


That reason being...?


I can't speak for absconditus but...

It's my belief that no one has the right not to be offended and I would rather live in a society of people that are brought up to be exposed to realities of our history and culture that offend them.

I say let kids think for themselves and sometimes be offended. Expose them to religious writings; it's part of who we are (no, I'm not religious). Let them read the writings of dictators to get inside the heads of men that did terrible things to better understand history. etc.

What would we have to lose other than to have a society of people that better understand the world and the history that brought us here?


I say let kids think for themselves and sometimes be offended.

I totally agree - let them think for themselves and let them read and research what they want. Forcing them to do so on the other hand helps no one.

YMMV. Like I wrote, my exposure to Mark Twain just resulted in me not going anywhere near his other works.

What would we have to lose other than to have a society of people that better understand the world and the history that brought us here?

Life experience was a much better instructor to me than nigger Jim.


"I totally agree - let them think for themselves and let them read and research what they want. Forcing them to do so on the other hand helps no one."

I have to disagree here. Certainly, you can make the "at least they're reading something!"-type of argument. That is, when you let them read Twilight or something of similarly less literary value than The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, well, "at least they're reading something!" I think this is doing a disservice to "the kids", though.

I mean, it's a tough argument. It sucks that we can't just make kids be seriously interested in literature, science, and mathematics. It's quite possibly (probably?) an indictment of our teachers that 95% (totally made up statistic) of kids who read Huck Finn just don't get it. I mean, I know I didn't when I was 14 and had to read it.

"As a product of it's day, I understand the context in which the language is being used but that didn't make it any less demeaning..."

I can't imagine what it was like to be a black kid being forced to read Huck Finn in school. I'm sure most teachers have some cursory 5-minute CYA lecture about how Twain was using vernacular to best illustrate his point about what things really were like in America in the 19th century, but I imagine as a black kid the language was still shocking. As a white kid the language is shocking, but obviously not in the same way. Re: your "as a product of it's day" comment, though, you're completely missing the point! "Nigger" wasn't used extensively in Huck Finn because Twain thought it was the best descriptor or what his readers would be most familiar with, he used it because he was decrying the mindset that makes that word acceptable altogether! Probably the biggest point made in the book was that even Huckleberry Finn, a poor, uneducated, half-illiterate southerner could realize that Jim is no less a human being than he or anyone else, and that his entire worldview has been wrong. Twain was saying "if even the lowly Huckleberry Finn can recognize this, why can't the rest of 19th-century America?"

Let's be honest, understanding subtext and being thoughtfully analytic aren't exactly most teenagers strong suits. So it's easy as a young reader of Huck Finn to chalk it up as just racist garbage with some redeeming attributes. I would encourage you as an older, and presumably more thoughtful, person to re-read it and reconsider your position. Twain is one of America's greatest writers, and while if you've read Huck Finn you've probably read his "greatest"(1) work, there's still a lot else out there worth reading.

(1) - I think it was Hemingway who called Huck Finn "American's Homeric Epic", or something to that effect.


"In reality, Huxley's savages are indeed the heroes…"

The savages aren't the heroes, but rather are there to show the lack of realistic options. Huxley himself favored a psychedelic society, which he wrote about in Island.


Did he actually "favoured" the society in Island? I know that he personally experimenting with drugs during the time he wrote it, but when I read the book I saw it as "Brave New World, governed by a leftist-idealist".

The same principles to manipulate the society on Brave New World are applied on the people of the Island.

You still see people being conditioned to obedience/compliance ("Pavlov used for the good, for love"), you still see use of drugs as a way to escape reality, etc...

Not to mention that is pretty clear that the society is not sustainable. A society that is not able to defend itself from the first menace is like a living organism without an immune system: it either lives in a bubble, or it is not viable.


> Indeed. The “savage” reads Shakespeare, which no one else in the book does anymore, for example.

Keep in mind John is the son of Thomas and Linda, both from outside the reservation, and shares very little with the natives.




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