(Feb. 27)  It isn’t often that actress Whoopi Goldberg gives conservatives and centrists reason to praise her, but she was the voice of wisdom the other day in denouncing the reediting of long-published works.

In the wake of a publisher drawing a major backlash for removing supposedly “offensive” language, such as the word “fat,” from the books of children’s author Roald Dahl, Goldberg noted that a reissue of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books also is being “re-edited to remove any racist content.”

Goldberg, who often is outspokenly contemptuous of conservative people and ideas, this time adopted the profoundly traditionalist view that unpleasant attitudes of the past should be addressed rather than erased.

“Y’all gotta stop this,” Goldberg said. “Just put a disclaimer on it that says, ‘Listen, this book was written at this time.’ Or put out the original and what y’all have done because kids should have the right to read how people thought so that they know how to make the change.”

And: “They tried to do this with Mark Twain as well because they were so concerned that the N-word was in the book. Well, that’s how they did it. That’s what it was. We don’t want people doing it today, and you don’t see it as much. That’s how people learn.”

Goldberg is right. There should exist a reasonable middle ground. One need not censor everything unpleasant in order to condemn its unpleasantness. Moreover, context matters: Twain’s use of the N-word, for example, was not published in acceptance of racism but in a novel brilliantly designed to skewer it. Ditto with uncomfortable depictions of racist whites’ views of blacks in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, another book that the overly sensitive censors have tried to remove from school libraries…. [The full column is right here.]


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