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This is a great question for discussion!

This article helps put it in perspective. Maybe it was a humorous way to protect himself?

Article:

'Huckleberry Finn' and the Subject of Slavery
https://www.thoughtco.com/mark-twain-about-slavery-in-huckfinn-740149

"In Huck's society, helping a runaway slave like Jim was the worst crime you could commit, short of murder."