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.
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.
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.
Sometimes you have to pretend to throw your principles away until the next shiny object comes along.
'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?
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.
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.
One of the cornerstones of democracy is that the ignorant will chose who also governs the educated if they are numerous enough.
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.
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.
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 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.
Life experience was a much better instructor to me than nigger Jim.
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.
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.
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.
Keep in mind John is the son of Thomas and Linda, both from outside the reservation, and shares very little with the natives.