I do not adhere to the majority of rules I learned as a child. I often speak when I am not spoken to. (Rashly and full of emotion.) I sometimes eat my dessert before my dinner. (In case an asteroid hits before I have the chance to enjoy it.) I make faces at people when their backs are turned. (Laughing in Fate’s face should the expression suddenly “stick” and give me away.) But two rules I have never broken?
I do not talk about politics.
I do not talk about religion.
I have recently realized, however, that my reluctance to talk about these issues (politics and religion) has spawned an almost inexcusable silence when it comes to other (equally as debatable) issues. Which is why today I’m finally going to share my (slightly ineloquent) thoughts on censorship. Well…censorship in books to be more exact.
About a week ago I was having a very lovely (read: totally meaningless) conversation with my friend (and author) Angela Corbett, when suddenly (seemingly out of nowhere) I am presented with a rant of epic proportion. See, Angela (who is obviously a better person that me because she reads actual news) had just stumbled upon an article that (as a writer) unleashed her inner rage monkey. Naturally curious, I told her I’d be right back and left to read the article myself. (Which I encourage you to do as well. Go on…I’ll wait.)
Long story short (For those of you that didn’t read the article. Shame. Shame.) there is a company developing an App that allows a person to (ultimately) censor specific material in eBooks. Don’t like F-bombs? Gone! Offended by gratuitous sex? *Poof!* It’s out of there. With a few clicks, this App will allow you to instantly transform any book into what YOU want, not what the AUTHOR intended. In a nut shell – blatant, unnecessary censorship. Goodbye sweet freedom of speech! Hello “The Man!” At least…that was my gut reaction. But as with most things (that evoke a Hulk type rage in me) I decided research was a more mature reaction. So I set out to gather thoughts. Specifically? Thoughts from authors. And the more responses I got, the more I was forced to look at the bigger picture, not just the 1-2 punch I experienced (and expressed through a slew of artfully crafted expletives) after first reading the article.
This is what they had to say. (In a nifty little pro vs con way) And (when it’s all said in done) what I came away with.
(Or…at least not adamantly against.)
(With a few Pro points thrown in for good measure.)
So where does this leave ME? If I’m honest…a little on the fence. Plain and simple…I don’t like being told what I can read and what I can’t read. And I hope (some day) my children are emblazoned with that same passion. And, as long as this App is voluntary I don’t see it effecting me all that much. On a larger scale…I believe that ANY person (or parent…which seems to be the biggest argument for this App) has a right to do whatever they want to with something they OWN. You want to use your mattress as a surfboard instead of sleep aid? More power to you. You bought it, do what you will with it. I can’t criticize someone for doing the same with a book they spent their hard earned money on. But…at the same time, why not just buy a different book? There are plenty of “clean” books out there to enjoy. Books that don’t include foul language, or sexual situations. If you are THAT concerned with offensive material, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Most books these days come with content warnings and age suggestions. If that doesn’t provide you with the reassurance you need…read reviews. Instead of CHANGING someone else’s work, why not simply CHANGE the way you buy books?
The fact of the matter is, someone spent a lot of time and energy crafting that story. Finding a proper place for every word found between its pages. Coming at it with a virtual sharpie is no different that ripping out it’s pages.
Just…something to think about.