Recently, there were a great number of blog entries dealing with the highly disputable decision to censor the “n-word” in Mark Twain’s classic works (e.g. heree). Today, I note that a Swedish children’s classic has suffered an even worse fate—non-publication. As e.g. morning paper SVDe writes, publisher Rabén & Sjögren wanted to sensor the word “neger” in the work “Ture Sventon i Paris”. After a veto from Sveriges Författarförbund (a union/interest organisation for Swedish authors), the publisher decided to cancel the planned re-issue rather than to use a word that was perfectly acceptable and unremarkable in 1953 when the book was first published and which did not lead to any protests against earlier re-issues.
It is a sad state of affair indeed, when politically correct irrationality can have such consequences.
(US readers should note that the Swedish situation is far worse than the US already because “neger” never had a status comparable to “nigger”, but would be more in line with “negro” or possibly even “black”. This until just a few decades ago, when there were suddenly cries that it was an evil word—probably more under the influence of the US PC-movement than from rational considerations about meaning, etymology, and how the word was actually perceived by speakers and listeners alike.)
Unfortunately, these two cases are nothing new, although Mark Twain is one of the most prominent victims. Among earlier cases of “anti-racist” censorship, I note e.g. The Bowdlerization of Dr. Dolittle e. Politically correct (or otherwise ideologically motivated) fiddling of other kinds has even affected the Bible (see e.g. 1e, 2e, 3e)—potentially distorting the actual meaning of a text that is the fundament of the religion of two billion people…