Roger Ebert–whose wife Charlie “Chaz” Hammel-Smith is African-American–caused a firestorm of controversy when he voiced his disapproval of the deletion of the N-word from a new edition of the classic American novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
According to Popeater, Ebert apologized immediately after being besieged by extremely harsh criticism.
“I’d rather be called a N***** than a Slave,” Roger Ebert tweeted in response to New South Publishing’s announcement that the N-word, which appears in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn a total of 219 times, would be deleted form a new edition of Mark Twain’s classic tale of life in the ante-bellum South.
Negative reactions to Roger Ebert’s tweet were tweeted back to him fast and furiously. The messages aimed at Ebert ranged from constructive criticism describing Ebert as “disrespectful” and “ignorant,” to the mockingly hostile: “Fair point, from some1 who’s likely to be called neither,” to the plain old hostile: R U OUT OF UR freakin head? jus cos ya wife is black dont give u the right to throw tht word around like its nothing. A*******.”
“You know, this is very true. I’ll never be called a N***** or a Slave, so I should have shut the **** up,” Roger Ebert tweeted in his apology. After his last tweet, there has been no further comment from him or his reps.
Obviously, the removal of this offensive term from a classic of American literature is going to and will, no doubt, continue to be a hot button topic. It would be interesting to hear Ebert’s wife’s opinion, if any, on this controversial subject. It would be even more interesting to know what Mark Twain would think of all these.