CHICAGO (CBS) — Film critic Roger Ebert is apologizing for a controversial tweet that used the N-word.
In reference to the story about new editions of Mark Twain’s classic, Huckleberry Finn, replacing the N-word with the word “slave,” Ebert tweeted Wednesday, “I’d rather be called a n****r than a slave.”
A controversy quickly erupted online.
On the LiveJourrnal celebrity gossip community website “Oh No They Didn’t,” a user identified only as 1cupofrpattz took offense to Ebert’s tweet.
“It’s not that I agree with people updating Mark Twain’s work, which is supposed to reflect the reality people faced back then… but I just *really* hated that he felt the right to use the word, that he felt the right to choose with word is better (did he forget he’s white?)” 1cupofrpattz wrote.
Linking to 1cupofrpattz’s post in a later tweet, Ebert posted Thursday: “You know, this is very true. I’ll never be called a n****r *or* a slave, so I should have shut the **** up.”
Ebert eliminated with asterisks the presumed expletive modifying “shut up” in the more recent tweet. The N-word was not censored in either tweet.
On Tuesday, Publishers Weekly reported that Twain scholar Alan Gribben had partnered with NewSouth Books to release a version of Huckleberry Finn that replaces the N-word with “slave.” It also removes the word “Injun.”
The N-word appears in Huckleberry Finn 219 times.
Gribben told Publishers Weekly that removing the slurs was not an attempt to render the book colorblind, but is “a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”