A series of anniversary screenings of the Dambusters will include the name of the film's dog. The 1955 film features a black Labrador, who was the mascot for RAF 617 squadron. The dog is called Nigger. Studiocanal is behind the screenings and said yesterday that the canine's name will not be removed. Good for them. They said: 'While we acknowledge some of the language used in The Dam Busters reflects historical attitudes which audiences may find offensive, for reasons of historical accuracy we have opted to present the film as it was originally screened.' A remake has been in development since 2008, but has yet to be produced. When it is released, the dog will be called Digger.

Some may find it offensive....yeah right. Take your offence and stick it up your arse. There was hardly any offence expressed when the word nigger was uttered more than 100 times in Quentin Tarantino's 2012 film Django Unchained. The film was set in a time when the word was used liberally. The word was commonly used, awful and all as it is. It has a terrible history and I can understand those who want the word to remain taboo lest it trivialise historical racial oppression. I understand their reasoning, but I vehemently disagree with them. Why? Because that road ends in book burning and the re-writing of history. It really does. Remember back in 2011, when The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was banned from schools and libraries across the US and only reinstated when a new version was released with the word nigger (appears 213 times in Huck Finn) replaced with the word slave? The recent editions have also expunged the word "injun." What ridiculous fuckery. Geoff Barton, former head of King Edward's school in Bury St. Edmunds Summed it up: "It seems depressing that we are so squeamish that we can't credit youngsters with seeing the context for texts. Are we going to teach a sanitised version of The Merchant of Venice? What I would want to do is to explore issues of how language changes in context and culture," he said. 

Dr Sarah Churchwell, senior lecturer in US literature and culture at the University of East Anglia, said in 2011: "The fault lies with the teaching, not the book. You can't say 'I'll change Dickens so it is compatible with my teaching method'. Twain's books are not just literary documents but historical documents, and that word is totemic because it encodes all of the violence of slavery. The point of the book is that Huckleberry Finn starts out racist in a racist society, and stops being racist and leaves that society. These changes mean the book ceases to show the moral development of his character. They have no merit and are misleading to readers. The whole point of literature is to expose us to different ideas and different eras, and they won't always be nice and benign. It's dumbing down." That is absolutely spot on.

Look I don't use the word nigger. Why would I? Why would I use that word in referring to a black man or woman? It's an unacceptable slur. But surely the word can be used in context? Surely black men and women are not so vulnerable that they can't hear the word used in a historical context? It's time to stop doing this.....n*****. The word is nigger. It cannot nor should not be erased from history. No good ever comes from that.

 

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Richie is the host of The Richie Allen Show and has enjoyed a long, and varied, broadcasting career.