I’ve been thinking long an hard about the events of the past week or so, trying to work out how best to put things. In case you hadn’t heard, there’s been something of a sudden rush of censorship in the erotica world, with Bookstrand severing all ties with the independent authors who published with them and All Romance ebooks announcing changes to their site that will separate the ‘Erotica’ from the ‘Erotic Romance’. Both apparently because of content that independent authors were putting out, which included pseudo-incest and dubious consent erotica.
As you might imagine, there’s been quite a lot of talk about this since then. And shouting. And e-mails – some angry, some snooty, some quite reasonable. Just about everyone has something to say about this, whether it’s in favour of the sites doing this or not. And so now I’m throwing my opinion, for whtever it’s worth, into the ring as well.
Now, censorship is something of a hot topic for me, and so I’m not going to rant at you for several paragraphs about how this is bad and should be stopped. I’m not going to scream and rant about the epublishers who are involved in this whole mess. Instead, I’m just going to point out a few things that are meant to make you think.
I’ve seen quite a few people supporting the actions of Bookstrand and ARe who say that it’s not censorship because they’re private companies and they have the right to do what they want to. Well, they’re half right – while private companies and organisations do have the right to do what they want with regard to content and the like, deciding whether or not to publish certain topics is still censorship. (I could go further and point out that the way that Bookstrand unceremoniously turfed out all the independent authors on their ear and then had an attack of the vapours over the supposed “offensive content” they were putting out – which not only could still be seen in some of their in-house published works, but which they had also had no problem taking 50% royalties for until last week… but I won’t.) And the topic of censorship leads into the connection with the video posted below.
If you ever followed wrestling back in c.2000/1, you might remember the group known as Right To Censor, a satire heel group created to mock the Parents’ Television Council who had some issues with WWE programming at the time. In a nutshell, their whole gimmick was that they knew better than everyone else, and that they were coing to censor out what they didn’t like so that no-one else could see it. And it was all “for your own good”.
And that’s what the censorship here is. People – in this case epublishers and online payment processors – deciding what people can and can’t read “for their own good”. “You don’t want to read about pseudo-incest, that’s nasty!” they cry. “Dubious consent as well! All BDSM, that’s rape, and you shouldn’t be reading it! We’re just trying to protect our readers from these horrible things!”
Well that’s all well and good. But who are they to decide what’s good or bad for you to read? Aren’t you, as intelligent, literate adults (if you’re not an adult, please go to Google and wait till you’re 18, then come back here, please), able to decide for yourselves what you want to read? Especially when the topics they’re talking about aren’t illegal. They might not be to everyone’s liking, but there’s nothing illegal about any of them (and even if you wanted to argue the case of pseudo-incest, your second step would have be to ask why Flowers In The Attic and The Cement Garden are still available, otherwise you’d be a hypocrite.)
Allowing other people to decide what legal topics you’re allowed to read or watch is wrong, and it only leads to more bad things. You might think that it doesn’t affect you, that you don’t read the stuff that’s been called out in this crackdown, but it does. Because if you stand back and let it happen, then next time it might be something you do read. Shape-shifter erotica. Gay erotica. Multiple partners.
Don’t let other people dictate what they think is “for your own good”.
And if you want more information, go here.