Tag Archives: censorship

A Constant State of Confusion

I’m finding it less and less worthwhile to try to state opinions on public forums. People, it seems, are more likely to be interested in being right, regardless of whether they actually are or even fully understand the argument.

The latest example is an app called “Clean App,” which removes profanity from books and replaces the word with one that’s more “suited” to the reader’s taste. This was covered in Christian Science Monitor (http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2015/0306/App-removes-profanity-from-books-is-it-a-good-idea) and someone posted it to Facebook. The whole idea is offensive to me. What are the chances that if a book contains “offensive language” it also contains other objectionable material? But no, according to correspondence with the creator of the app, “American Sniper” is a great book, it just uses the word f*ck too much. Now it can be enjoyed as a clean version. The fact that it’s about America’s most lethal marksman isn’t disturbing at all–what’s a dead person compared to the word f*ck?

There are many issues around this, and that’s just one of the ones that bothers me on the level of subject material. The other is the concept that this could be the beginning of a slippery slope toward censorship, or did no one else posting on that particular conversation note that The Christian Science Monitor’s article included not one but two links to banned books? I’m not, apparently, the only one to think that. We are living in a country where religious Right beliefs are, perhaps in a backlash to the success of same sex marriage reform in the courts (slowly but surely the USA is headed toward equality in marriage), rearing their ugly little heads, and while textbooks exist in Texas claiming as fact that Moses took part in the construction of the Declaration of Independence, I am uneasy as to what direction apps like this could take. Call me paranoid, fine. I’m trying to look at the bigger picture here.

I blithely referred to it as “book terrorism,” which was a mistake on my part since people seem unable to differentiate between books and people. But I also said it to try to get people’s attention, which it did, just not the way I’d intended. One of the problems with writing and not conversing is that explaining things usually isn’t worth your time once someone gets rolling on their MO. I’m not sure why someone would immediately take “book terrorism” and equate it to terrorism against people except that’s what has been drilled into us by the media and the government. What I did is called generalization–comparing the two–it isn’t the same thing. I stand by my statement that destruction of ancient cities because they were considered blasphemous by ISIL is a terrorist act–against culture, yet another kind of terrorism. Destroying someone’s culture, their past, is one step closer to obliterating them without even killing anyone. Instead, my point was lost with one person huffing off with the comment, “I guess I’m a terrorist then. Geesh.” Another, who just said she was sorry I didn’t understand her view, simply used semantics about terrorism and killing thousands of people to “win” her argument, which had nothing to do with what I was talking about. But some people have to be right.

So how on earth, then, does this have anything to do with an app that sanitizes texts for people who have fallen out of love with reading because of profanity contained therein? It shows, for one thing, how lazy people are in finding suitable reading material. There are huge categories I avoid precisely because they are “cozy,” “spiritual,” or “Christian.” Somehow I manage to do this without an app. I like romances, but I don’t particularly care for BDSM, at least not for myself, and I manage to notice that before I buy a book, generally. Sometimes some slips in. If it’s well-written I might read it–I’m not completely close-minded. If it’s badly written I don’t. If it’s badly written chances are I may not have gotten that far. I don’t feel the need to compulsively finish books anymore; there are too many good books waiting to be discovered for me to waste my time. Another thing the creator of the app mentioned: people wasting much of their valuable money on books to find them profanity laden. Here’s an idea. Use the library. Some independent authors you’re going to have to buy–which is good for them, but too bad for the library going population who don’t have the disposable income to buy books but happen to like to read, without needing an app to help them fall in love with it again–there are a lot of authors they aren’t able to read because libraries often can’t afford to buy, or won’t buy, a lot of indie books, which is, literally, a crying shame. There are many, many indie authors who are excellent. It’s not the library’s fault; they too don’t have a lot of disposable income and have to choose carefully, and they try to buy what they think the bulk of their patrons want. And don’t get me started on how much publishers charge libraries for eBooks, that’s another subject altogether. Libraries and emergency services, the first two things to get cut. It makes no sense to me either.

Do these same people watch TV? Movies? How far will this “customization” go? Yes, books, including the bible, have been rewritten to serve the rewriter’s purposes for thousands of years. It might not bother some authors, who don’t seem to care what happens to their work as long as they get paid and no one tries to resell it. That’s one way to look at it. Yes, people may mock me for stating that I believe it smacks of censorship. One little addition to aid in the sanitization of America’s books and the dumbing down of the American mind. I can see other quotes now: “Oh, I just simply couldn’t find anything to read until Clean App came along and made everything nice and squeaky clean for me!”

I suppose I should just be happy people are reading. Maybe.

Here’s an enlightening list from the American Library Association:

Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009
1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby: The First Graphic Novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchins, the creators of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank
http://www.ala.org

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The World Interpreted through Alice in Wonderland

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Consulting the Oracle

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First Meeting

Many Don’t Arrive

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A Meeting is Held

Alice is voted unanimously as Ambassador

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Waiting to meet the Red Queen

(With trepidation )

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A productive discussion did not seem in the cards

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And, in fact, became quite hostile.

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Things on the home front were not much better.

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With a heavy heart, Alice helped prepare her friends for battle with what little she could find.

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Alice listened to the Mock Turtle’s prophecies of the outcome of the war.

    4E9FC6FE-AC4F-4C99-AF28-2985270D3379.png Is the Mock Turtle going to be right?

Mr. Putin, speaker with two faces?

Mr. Netenyahu, regretful of civilian deaths?

 

Who will take responsibility for their actions?

Who will pretend to paint the roses red with the blood of the fallen?

 

NSA Surveillance is Making Writers Self-Censor

 S-C Protecting you from what?tim-robbins-tim-robbins-i-think-the-enemy-is-self-censorship-in-a

Benjamin Franklin, 1722

Benjamin Franklin, 1722

Re-Blogged from GalleyCat 11/15/2013

NSA Surveillance is Making Writers Self-Censor

pen

Eighty-five percent of writers are worried about government surveillance of Americans, and 73 percent reported that never have they been so worried about privacy rights and freedom of the press, according to a new report from Pen America.

The report found that writers are censoring themselves in order to avoid trouble with the NSA. The report found that 16 percent of writers have avoided writing or speaking about a particular topic due to concerns about the NSA.

In addition, the study revealed that 24 percent of writers have purposefully avoided certain topics on the phone or through email. And 28 percent of writers have avoided social media activities.

Here is more from the report:

Part of what makes self-censorship so troubling is the impossibility of knowing precisely what is lost to society because of it. We will never know what books or articles may have been written that would have shaped the world’s thinking on a particular topic if they are not written because potential authors are afraid that their work would invite retribution.

Censorship in our Brave New World

There appear to be some issues with self published eBooks being taken down from some online stores amid accusations of “indecent and immoral content.” Instead of being taken as a case-by-case basis, some proprietors have determined it best to remove all self-published material, regardless of subject. The original complaint was against allegedly distasteful erotica. So now fantasy, historical fiction/romance, science fiction, etc. all have to take the brunt of these accusations. Every self-published author is now apparently some sort of depraved, sick individual. It’s not even a matter of quality control.

It’s a matter of content. So who gets to censor, and who gets to set the standards?

One site in the UK has actually taken their page down until they manage to remove all self-published material from their shelves, and has a holding page up with this statement:

A statement from WHSmith:
Last week we were made aware that a number of unacceptable titles were appearing on our website through the Kobo website that has an automated feed to ours. This is an industry wide issue impacting retailers that sell self published eBooks due to the explosion of self publishing, which in the main is good as it gives new authors the opportunity to get their content published. However we are disgusted by these particular titles, find this unacceptable and we in no way whatsoever condone them.

It is our policy not to feature titles like those highlighted and we have processes in place to screen them out. We offer over one million titles through our eBooks partner Kobo, many of which are self-published titles. Due to the massive amount of self publishing a number of these titles have got through the screening process.

We are taking immediate steps to have them all removed. While we are doing this we have decided to take our website off-line to best protect our customers and the public. Our website will become live again once all self published eBooks have been removed and we are totally sure that there are no offending titles available. When our website goes back online it will not display any self published material until we are completely confident that inappropriate books can never be shown again.

We sincerely apologise for any offence caused.

In the mean time if you have any questions for our customer support team you can contact then here (customer.relations@whsmith.co.uk).      

What a statement–“until we are completely confident that inappropriate books can never be shown again.” It also could use a good edit. I’m a vegetarian. I’d really rather not see any books on BBQ or Slow Roasting Chicken. I don’t like guns, so I think we should get rid of all those titles as well. Oh, that takes out quite a number of mysteries, doesn’t it? Action/Adventure, too. I’m afraid of the water, so there go any nautical, Navy SEAL, or books about the Marines. Poor Patrick O’Brian! And books on pirates. My kidneys are going bad, moderately damaged. Better get all the cookbooks with too much salt out of there–it’s better for everyone’s health in the long run. And I find the idea of steak and kidney pie, well, extremely hurtful in this light as well, so out with those. I don’t particularly like the outdoors, let’s get rid of all the books on hiking. I can’t afford to travel, so I find it offensive that there are other people always talking about all the places they’ve been or are going to visit. Out with all the travel books on other countries.

Ridiculous, isn’t it? Why should I choose what anyone else can read? We have freedom of speech, at least supposedly, in the United States. I can only assume that the UK would as well. I’ve never been there. Can’t travel, remember? It sort of sucks sometimes, being one of the 99%. But I do have some rights, according to the constitution. Oh, but wait, we have politicians here who can’t remember how laws are made, what am I saying? I imagine they’d love to hop on this censorship train. The Tea Party may be more at home going by ship, though…

I didn’t have a question for WHSmith, but I did have a comment:

The only offense that has been caused here is the blatant censorship exhibited by a kneejerk reaction to a limited number of titles, not the entire body of work that is self-published.

This reaction is akin to making a blanket statement about an entire ethnic group or population. It is the equivalent of profiling by law enforcement. It is morally and ethically questionable, and smacks of an Orwellian mentality.

If paper burns at a temperature of 451 degrees Fahrenheit, what happens to eBooks? Luckily, you’re even saved that issue with a single click of a delete button.

Who makes the decisions of what is and isn’t acceptable? Who are our moral  police? In our “Democratic” United States, it appears that the ones who think they would be responsible for a task such as this would be the GOP and the Tea Party. Anyone who is following current politics in the United States knows just how moral and ethical they are.

As opposed to folding under pressure to appease the madding, misled, moral unintelligentsia in the quest to retain their almighty pecuniary tributes, I would urge you to consider where your actions will lead. Is it a moral and ethical place, or is it a place full of landmines and Molotov cocktails? Who will join you for happy hour then?

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
–Martin-Niemöller-Foundation

Sincerely,
Wendy Clements
Writer

Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.
Oscar Wilde

Hm. I would address this question to any online bookseller. I used to be a bookseller, for an independent bookstore. A real store. Yet even I mourned the death of Borders. It was one of the few places left for people to gather, talk, drink overpriced coffee and be surrounded by books. Granted, they never had the books I wanted, but still… I live in a university town. Our Borders closed. We have two branches of a used book store that has the potential to be a very good bookstore, another used bookstore which is loved by the community and provides wonderful events, and a couple of specialty bookstores. And the christian bookstore. We have a Barnes and Noble, however rumor has it they’re pulling the same sort of stunt on their online faux brick and mortarless presence. I haven’t verified that. The same claims were made of Amazon. I haven’t verified that either. Oh, wait, yes I did. Finn Marlowe now only has two books up. Not His Kiss to Take is missing. It’s at Smashwords, though–free.

I don’t know how many books are missing from Amazon. All self-published titles will be from WHSmith. Truthfully, things are so vague, other than “unacceptable” titles causing “offence” that I don’t even know what they’re talking about. There are plenty of books published by traditional, big 5 publishing houses with material in them I find offensive–some worse than what I’ve ever read in the self-published works I choose to read. Note the word in the last sentence. Choose. Choice. No one is forcing people to buy books of erotica. I think people are making that decision themselves. I don’t think they magically jump from WHSmith’s page to readers’ Kobos of their own volition, while managing to smuggle the money out of the readers’ accounts at the same time. Do these people who find the material offensive force themselves to read it so they can state their case first hand, or do they just read the blurb and look at the cover? Because really, blurbs only give a slice of the pie, American or British.

Books are such an easy target, and they look so innocent, but they scare some people to death. They might talk about something different from the status quo. They could be revolutionary. Although I don’t think it was a book that started either the French Revolution or the American Revolution. It just takes some people, as Jon Stewart put it, stringing these long words together into completely incomprehensible sentences that don’t even obfuscate the true meaning because there wasn’t any there to start with. See, I can do it too, except I think mine made sense.  Keep people confused. Confused people are easier to lead. When it becomes frightening is when it’s the misinformed leading the confused–a few very loud, dramatic, flag waving Palins to drown out the voices of reason and sanity.

The Tea Party is really such a waste of good tea–I only hope it isn’t Irish Breakfast, because that’s my favorite. They give tea a bad name, and I really think it would be such a nice thing to institute in the United States–afternoon tea. Some time to relax. Take a break from the frenetic pace of our lives. Read a good book. Instead we have people vying for the role of Mad Hatter. Maybe he’s available for the role of book censor. I don’t know what his political leanings are, or what his personal tastes in reading material are, but he has heard a lot of, “Off with their heads!” And I believe he possesses the requisite questionable sanity.

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”
–Oscar Wilde

i read banned booksBenjamin Franklineyechart-banned-books

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