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Banned!

Everybody had better be on board. The ship has sailed.

Readers may not yet see it, but writers are all too aware of the growing trend of seeking to ban particular topics in today’s books. In the last couple of days alone, I’ve witnessed two separate accounts of certain retailers and book distribution services issuing e-mail notices to its users, stating they will no longer distribute or accept for distribution books that “feature” subject matter such as the following:

  • rape
  • incest (including non-blood-related family relationships)
  • pedophilia or underage sex
  • bestiality
  • pornography
  • content that “promotes hate” toward a religion, race/ethnicity, or sexual orientation
  • “any” content that their distributors deem “objectionable” or is considered a violation of their “content restrictions”

Wow. Just wow.

While some “progressive-minded” folks may consider this a good thing, let’s call it what it is and address it like adults. It’s called CENSORSHIP.

Mind you, I’m no fan of rape, particularly gratuitously placed rape. I don’t read erotica – certainly not “rape erotica.” I can’t stomach incest, let alone other topics on this list. In fact, on many levels, I would agree these themes are disturbing. Some even criminal. That’s why I choose not to read them.

You got that right, folks. Controversial as it may sound, I actually make up my own mind which books I’ll read.

When any body, committee, or government agency starts down this rocky road, you can anticipate bad things will follow. And no, I’m not going to go all “Nazi fever” on everyone. I shouldn’t have to draw the correlation. Certainly we can agree that, in the scenario outlined above as announced by this particular source (and others following in lockstep), a subjective set of criteria will be used to determine which books stay and which are essentially expunged. If this practice is accepted without opposition, the result will find writers falling under the widening jurisdiction of the “thought police.” Plainly, you’ll miss and miss out on a lot of really good books.

It is my concerted opinion this list was clunked together in an attempt to win the approval of the masses and therefore included topics few would try to defend. I mean, how many readers would object to bestiality and pedophilia being targeted? They are both not only illegal, but also vile and disgusting. But this is where many folks miss the point. In fact, the “great whoever” issuing these policies is counting on the majority’s approval by including such topics. That way, they achieve their overarching goal.

Today’s culture is obsessed with objectionism. I don’t even think that’s a word. In fact, I just looked it up. It isn’t a word – so when you quote me, quote me accurately. Anyway, people these days obsess over ways to dictate to others how they should think, act, speak, feel…and, apparently, what they should read. They see hate everywhere. They see hurt everywhere. And they’ll hate and hurt you if you disagree. I’m not talking politics here, folks, so cut me some slack. I don’t care who you voted for. I’m talking about book banning. Using the criteria outlined above, publishers, distributors, and retailers can take drastic steps to censor any story that doesn’t fit politically correct ideology.

However, I believe they’re ultimately in for a world of hurt with readers and existing authors, not just new or self-published authors. Writers will not quietly slink away and start writing according to committee approval. We just won’t. And even if we considered it, the looming question remains: who decides what is “objectionable?”

Let’s admit it. That’s the crux of the problem. They want to squash free speech, and the expression of such, if anyone anywhere gets their feelings hurt. They scream about abolishing hate, but what is more hateful than holding oneself up as the moral authority on what is hurtful, or hateful? Is it you? Me? And what if I consider something a problem that you’re fine with? In reality, I could simply pick up a different book. One that appeals to my sensitivities. Can’t you?

Books like The Color Purple, Gone with the Wind, and hundreds of classics should be taken off the shelves if these criteria are applied across the board. So now, we’re banning books? Not just newly authored tomes by yours truly and my contemporaries, but beloved novels like To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies? Authors such as Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Twain, J.D. Salinger, and Judy Blume? What about Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings? Seriously? If so, better pick up that copy of 50 Shades of Grey you’d put off getting. It covers objectionable material and won’t be around long.

Readers and authors need to understand what’s going on, and be vigilant in standing up against this and any censorship. They need to address this unfathomable assault against free speech and expression. Opening this Pandora’s Box of thought policing and stifled artistic expression will have a catastrophic effect on future culture and history as well. It cannot be born. And we cannot be silent. We must not be.

So yeah, looks like the ship may have sailed. Who’s up for a good mutiny? Oh wait – am I allowed to say that? I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, did I?

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