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Thread: Being Free to read and write whatever you want

  1. #1
    Tastes Like Chicken GoSpeed's Avatar
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    Being Free to read and write whatever you want

    Author Sarah Hoyt writes an excellent article on how authors and readers are being pressured to not read or write anything that may offend others. Read here.

    "...if you’re a free man or woman, or aspire to be, read whatever you want. Do not let the howls of outrage from petty totalitarians and their unthinking thralls lead you to either read or not read something. READ WHATEVER YOU WANT. THINK WHATEVER YOU WANT ABOUT IT. WRITE WHATEVER YOU WANT."

  2. #2
    cutsie-pie Curlz's Avatar
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    Was somebody stopping you from reading what you want before this article? I can't find the point in such a statement, especially now that you could find all sorts of stuff on the internet

  3. #3
    The King and Queen of Cheese BenPanced's Avatar
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    About the only time in my life I needed permission to read what I'd wanted was when my mother monitored everything until I was 16. However, if you read further down, this article is in response to the current outrage/backlash generated online over the book The Black Witch. Is the Twitter-storm against the author and her work deserved? I don't know. I do know, however, that I don't need anybody's permission to read or write what I want, and I'll continue to do so for a very long time.
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    Cultured vulture Albedo's Avatar
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    The power of shouty people on Tumblr/Twitter/et al. to stop anyone from reading, writing, or making twits of themselves is vastly overestimated, IMO.
    Alex

  5. #5
    beef rank be frank's Avatar
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    Reminds me of the now-annual, "Those PC people want to change 'Merry Christmas' to 'Happy Holidays' and ban Christmas carols!" Which ... no, they don't.

    People getting outraged over other people's supposed fanaticism about not offending anyone is and always has been confected bullshit.

    I won't go into the whole "write whatever you want" aspect, because that's been well-covered many times on AW already.
    Last edited by be frank; 08-11-2017 at 05:18 PM.
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    Moderator AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Since I was around 12 or 13, I've read whatever I wanted to. I don't much care if strangers approve. One of the great things about being educated properly is the ability to discern propaganda disguised as fiction from a good story. It's okay to read either one, if it's of interest.

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  7. #7
    All about that action, boss. ElaineA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albedo View Post
    The power of shouty people on Tumblr/Twitter/et al. to stop anyone from reading, writing, or making twits of themselves is vastly overestimated, IMO.
    It should be, but I admit to flinchy moments. We're not all of as strong a constitution as to be made of lead casing. Seeing the very fringes of the storm BenPanced mentioned--I only became aware of it when ragers dragged Roxane Gay. ROXANE GAY! I mean, she has massive credibility and still the pile-on was swift and sure--was one of those times.

    I am never going to be told what I can read, but what I can write? I admit to being sensitive to not putting offensive content out there if I can help it. (Fully acknowledging "sensitive" is subjective as all hell.) As a smutty-romance writer, I know some people will be offended by the explicit content of my stories, but I don't see it as my job to inflict pain by ignoring problematic content that has been pointed out to me, just for the sake of storytelling. Whether to shrug that concern off, or decide the story is more important than what some might see as problematic content, is a personal decision each writer has to make, though.

    There are some pain-inflicting stories that need to be told, I suppose. Reading The Anne Frank Diaries was traumatic for me, as was watching Roots. I think those taught me more sensitivity, though, so I'm glad I was exposed to them. I have to admit, I'm uncomfortable with the propensity to shame people for reading choices. I've read a lot of books, some shitty, some with offensive content, some controversial. I'd hate to be put in the stocks and confronted with all of them. I'd be there for a long-damn time.

  8. #8
    Three of a perfect pair. AW Moderator amergina's Avatar
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    People are allowed to write/read whatever they want.

    People are also allowed to analyze and criticize works and write reviews, blog posts, etc. with their opinion. And people are also allowed *not* to read books based on those opinions.

    I'm under no obligation to read anything that I find offensive or that badly represents something.

    For example, a writer is allowed to write a book that portrays trans people (all trans people) as horrible human being or maybe subhuman. They're even allowed to have that belief. I am allowed not to read the book. I'm even allowed to blog about why I wouldn't read the book and how poor representation hurts me as a trans person.

    Freedom to write and read what you want doesn't preclude being criticized for writing shitty harmful books, or being called out for praising and gushing about shitty harmful books.
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  9. #9
    cutsie-pie Curlz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albedo View Post
    The power of shouty people on Tumblr/Twitter/et al. to stop anyone from reading, writing, or making twits of themselves is vastly overestimated, IMO.
    How do a bunch of pixels on a website stop you from reading something? Do they jump out of the screen and take the book away?

  10. #10
    MacAllister's Official Minion & Greeter AW Moderator Ari Meermans's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curlz View Post
    How do a bunch of pixels on a website stop you from reading something? Do they jump out of the screen and take the book away?
    I think you're largely missing the point. And I don't think you're alone. The author of the article cited, "Being Free", seems to have done so as well, if the article was meant to address the furor over THE BLACK WITCH. If that was the purpose of the article—and the links provided did seem to point in that direction—she didn't address the underlying problems responsible for the drama generated on Goodreads and in the Twitterverse: the growing lack of wide and deep reading and taking one's opinion from one or two data points. And there's the further fact that the article employs a physiologically problematic as well as deeply offensive word to refer to intersex persons.

    How many people would you suspect followed the link to the Vulture article the author cited? How many then followed the Vulture article's link to the review that sparked the outrage? Fewer still, I'd think. And how many who expressed their outraged opinions in response to that review have actually read the book? (Yeah, you know where I'm going with this.)

    I have not read THE BLACK WITCH, so I have no opinion on the book and how well it dealt with the themes of racism, homophobia, and ableism. Nor do I have an opinion on how far the character's growth arc progressed in the first book. However, having followed those links and read each article in its entirety, I am left with the impression that the reviewer who sparked the controversy was deeply unhappy with the force with which the character expressed her views and with the fact that the character's growth arc was not complete by the end of the first book. The character, in effect, still had too far to go by the end of the book. Again, I don't know because I haven't yet read the book.

    If Hoyt had meant to discuss the issues of being free to think as we wish and to read and write what we want, there are better ways of having done so.
    Last edited by Ari Meermans; 08-11-2017 at 10:27 PM.
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  11. #11
    All about that action, boss. ElaineA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curlz View Post
    How do a bunch of pixels on a website stop you from reading something? Do they jump out of the screen and take the book away?
    Astonishingly, pixels on a website often represent friends, acquaintances, people one admires, people whose viewpoint one has come to trust. Or not. (I know, right!?) I never met Roger Ebert, but I trusted his movie reviews. My choice to trust him, I know, but he earned it with typed words, and my own experiences with his recommendations or pans. Thus, after a while, I just went with his viewpoint and saved my money.

    This is what being an "influencer" is all about, whether it's a reviewer, someone on twitter, or your parent.

    I daresay there are few people in this world who have passed a life free from all external influence, whether those be IRL people or pixels.

  12. #12
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    I got a huge issue with how extreme people are going with all the PC crap. I'll write what I want. And no, there will be no trigger warnings. Put on your big girl/boy pants and put the book down once you get to the sensitive point and feel you can't handle it. There are billions of people in the world. I'd need trigger warnings for everything then. There are people who get triggered by LETTUCE.

  13. #13
    Cultured vulture Albedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElaineA View Post
    It should be, but I admit to flinchy moments. We're not all of as strong a constitution as to be made of lead casing. Seeing the very fringes of the storm BenPanced mentioned--I only became aware of it when ragers dragged Roxane Gay. ROXANE GAY! I mean, she has massive credibility and still the pile-on was swift and sure--was one of those times.
    I read the Vulture article about the furore. The book's still for sale, so obviously the publishers weren't too frightened about the Twitter storm. Whether it affected sales: they're not sharing, but I can easily see the publicity around this book giving it a boost. I'm skeptical that these sort of Twitter blowups have much of an impression beyond the closed circles they're confined to. (The article also makes the point that it's mainly adults fighting in the Twitter wars. The target market -- young people -- have their own platforms, and are presumably discussing these issues elswehere without the same drama.)

    I am never going to be told what I can read, but what I can write? I admit to being sensitive to not putting offensive content out there if I can help it. (Fully acknowledging "sensitive" is subjective as all hell.) As a smutty-romance writer, I know some people will be offended by the explicit content of my stories, but I don't see it as my job to inflict pain by ignoring problematic content that has been pointed out to me, just for the sake of storytelling. Whether to shrug that concern off, or decide the story is more important than what some might see as problematic content, is a personal decision each writer has to make, though.

    There are some pain-inflicting stories that need to be told, I suppose. Reading The Anne Frank Diaries was traumatic for me, as was watching Roots. I think those taught me more sensitivity, though, so I'm glad I was exposed to them. I have to admit, I'm uncomfortable with the propensity to shame people for reading choices. I've read a lot of books, some shitty, some with offensive content, some controversial. I'd hate to be put in the stocks and confronted with all of them. I'd be there for a long-damn time.
    We can all write anything we damn well please. Whether we should (and how we consider the sensitivities of readers) is a question of ethics, not permission. Whether we deserve an audience is yet another thing entirely.

    Quote Originally Posted by Curlz View Post
    How do a bunch of pixels on a website stop you from reading something? Do they jump out of the screen and take the book away?
    Well, a whole bunch of bad reviews of something might make me reconsider spending my hard-earned on it.
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  14. #14
    MacAllister's Official Minion & Greeter AW Moderator Ari Meermans's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chompers View Post
    I got a huge issue with how extreme people are going with all the PC crap. I'll write what I want. And no, there will be no trigger warnings. Put on your big girl/boy pants and put the book down once you get to the sensitive point and feel you can't handle it. There are billions of people in the world. I'd need trigger warnings for everything then. There are people who get triggered by LETTUCE.
    Mod Note: I am not a fan of nitpicky rules and I'm not going to have them here. However, using "PC" as a pejorative is not on. Most particularly, using the phrase "PC crap" as an umbrella term for taking reasonable care to be respectful and to try not to offend is most definitely not on. If that was not your meaning, English is a rich and varied language with many options for alluding to extreme views. Search them out. In short, we're not using the phrase "PC crap" here.
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  15. #15
    Beastly Fido Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    I think the article linked in the OP raises a straw man. This is an article that addresses this very question.

    https://medium.com/@sarahnlemon/all-...s-b9f87fdd437c

    There aren’t rules, but there are consequences. If we don’t want consequences for what we write, we shouldn’t be writing.
    Complaints that authors are "pressured" not to write some things these days, and that readers are pressured not to read certain things, seem rather specious. Writers have always been pressured not to write certain things and readers have always been pressured not to read certain things for all kinds of reasons. There may be some differences in which things get stink eye from which quarters these days, and many people who used to quietly endure media they feel hurt or marginalized them now have voices and a way to get their objections out in the public eye (thanks largely to the internet). People who are precious and overly sensitive have more ability to make their voices heard too. So do people who hate the whole concept of cultural sensitivity or diversity and sneer at everything they don't like as "political correctness." I think there's a difference between these groups, but I also know that we may not all agree about who is who.

    Would it be better for everyone to just shut up and not express negative opinions about books? Or are only certain kinds of negative opinions out of bounds?

    What about reviews? Should readers just randomly grab and read any book they can get their hands on in the order they tumble from the shelves (or pop up in searches online), or are we babies for using things like reviews by people whose opinions we've come to trust and recommendations from friends we trust to help us narrow down the literally millions of books published every year (or tens of thousands, even if we restrict ourselves to a particular genre)?
    Last edited by Roxxsmom; 08-12-2017 at 06:36 AM.
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  16. #16
    tiny hedgehog JetFueledCar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chompers View Post
    I got a huge issue with how extreme people are going with all the PC crap. I'll write what I want. And no, there will be no trigger warnings. Put on your big girl/boy pants and put the book down once you get to the sensitive point and feel you can't handle it. There are billions of people in the world. I'd need trigger warnings for everything then. There are people who get triggered by LETTUCE.
    The story I post on AO3 graphically and unapologetically deals with the aftermath of all forms of child and domestic abuse. I knew by the time I posted chapter three that some of my readers had been through similar experiences to what these characters are recovering from. It's posted online on a platform where I have at least three places I can post a trigger warning. Do you honestly believe I waste my time posting warnings when a chapter gets graphic?

    Don't answer that.

    Then here, how about this selfish answer: By posting detailed warnings, my readers are able to protect themselves. That means they can continue to read my story past the point where they might otherwise have stopped. Then they engage with me about it, because they like the story and like that I took the time to look out for them. Personally, as a writer, I want my readers to enjoy my work, especially to enjoy it enough to reach out to me. I want them to keep reading, even if it's hard to handle the subject matter. I don't want them to reach a point where they have to put it down and walk away and not come back. So whatever it costs me to post the warning, I get back with interest. Apparently you look for something else from your readers. Whatever it is, I hope you get it.

    On topic (or more so), the thing that stuck out to me about the Vulture article was drilling far enough into it to see that people were so ill-informed about what they were hating on that they were calling out the wrong book--namely The BONE Witch, which is written by a WOC.

    At that point--the point where you cannot even hate the "right" thing--something is very wrong.

    I'm not reading THE BLACK WITCH, at least not anytime soon, because of a very well-thought-out Twitter thread by a WOC about how and why we don't need books about bigots getting over bigotry. It killed the last of my curiosity, and made it not worth adding another 1800 pages (when you finish out the trilogy) to my already enormous to-read list. I may change my mind when we have the whole trilogy to review. But for now, I found it fair to say "I don't need to," rather than "I shouldn't."
    Last edited by JetFueledCar; 08-12-2017 at 06:34 AM.
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  17. #17
    Cultured vulture Albedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElaineA View Post
    It should be, but I admit to flinchy moments. We're not all of as strong a constitution as to be made of lead casing. Seeing the very fringes of the storm BenPanced mentioned--I only became aware of it when ragers dragged Roxane Gay. ROXANE GAY! I mean, she has massive credibility and still the pile-on was swift and sure--was one of those times.
    I've read that Roxane Gay thing, now, and bloody hell, YA Twitter. That's a whole lot of white people piling on a black woman for *linking* to an article criticising pile-on culture. (And honestly, a lot of the criticism of the article ignores the content, instead pushing that somehow it's not ethical to quote people's public Twitter streams in a work of journalism without 'permission'. Yeah, no, that's not how the Internet (or journalism) works.)
    Alex

  18. #18
    tiny hedgehog JetFueledCar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albedo View Post
    I've read that Roxane Gay thing, now, and bloody hell, YA Twitter. That's a whole lot of white people piling on a black woman for *linking* to an article criticising pile-on culture. (And honestly, a lot of the criticism of the article ignores the content, instead pushing that somehow it's not ethical to quote people's public Twitter streams in a work of journalism without 'permission'. Yeah, no, that's not how the Internet (or journalism) works.)
    Took me a bit to track this one down. And I just cringe at the white people who apparently don't realize they're talking to a WOC, and then another WOC telling a white man he can and should read this book and decide for himself. Like, yes, please. If you don't want to read it, don't read it--I said upthread why I don't plan to. But don't not-read because you're afraid that by reading about a racist you will be racist.

    Side note, someone mentioned in response to Roxane that Mikki Kendall had a thread about it too, but I can't find it. Can anyone else?
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    It's not a political Twitter, but I'm a political person, so it amounts to the same thing.

  19. #19
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    The trigger thing above contains a fragment of a point, though.

    The concept of a trigger warning, as often touted, suggests a lack of understanding re trauma, to me. Triggers can be and often are, very mundane things. Even pleasant things.

    Example; a friend of mine finds photos of newborns severely triggering. Lots of people are (oddly) triggered by cotton wool. Pulling a shirt over my son's head used to be triggering for me, so much that his father had to dress him (yes I know that sounds weird).

    Obviously, setting out to be indifferent is perhaps another thing entirely, but most trigger warnings seem redundant or pointless to me, and not helpful to the majority of people I know who do experience such issues. Very few of them seem to be caused by reading written text.

    My other concern is that they exclude people by determining what is or isn't acceptable trauma. So for example, on another forum I frequent, you're not allowed to talk about cancer (as one example--there are a lot of bans) because that's triggering. So, a friend who's survived cancer can't ever speak about her experiences. But things that *she* finds triggering, which are all "ordinary", aren't banned or labelled. The unintentional implication is that her issues are less important than someone else's because it's less easy to quantify.

    This is the point at which I think trigger warnings massively backfire. For individual friends we can be courteous and sensitive. For a wider population, I think the concept does more harm than good by making judgements on what is or isn't acceptable trauma. I tend to feel it would be better, in the context of writing for a wider population, to let people put their own boundaries in place re written content.

    NOT because they should suck it up, but because that is what the majority of people have to do anyway, since trigger warnings as currently done aren't actually very helpful (imo).
    Last edited by Harlequin; 08-12-2017 at 02:35 PM.
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  20. #20
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harlequin View Post
    This is the point at which I think trigger warnings massively backfire. For individual friends we can be courteous and sensitive. For a wider population, I think the concept does more harm than good by making judgements on what is or isn't acceptable trauma. I tend to feel it would be better, in the context of writing for a wider population, to let people put their own boundaries in place re written content.

    NOT because they should suck it up, but because that is what the majority of people have to do anyway, since trigger warnings as currently done aren't actually very helpful (imo).
    I'm not sure where people are seeing all these specious trigger warnings. I see them primarily on forum posts, here and therabouts, and I read about them happening at universities, but not often (and, with a few exceptions that I tend to read with skepticism, handled fairly reasonably). The only common trigger warnings I see are movie and TV ratings, which are indeed crude, but not entirely useless.

    And I'm not clear how they harm anyone. Back in the stone-age days of Usenet, they were pretty common. And they didn't restrict what you could talk about - they freed you up to write as vividly as you needed to, because you didn't have to worry about people sensitive to your subject matter - they weren't reading, because you'd already warned them off. Trigger warnings expanded what you could comfortably discuss. (JetFueledCar, your experience describes exactly the usage I'm accustomed to.)

    Yes, people with mundane triggers aren't protected. Although it's a favorite strawman in certain circles, most people understand it's impossible to protect everyone from all traumatic memories. The point of the trigger warning is to indicate that you're going to be presenting something that might reasonably be considered upsetting to a large percentage of the community, and to give your audience a chance to avoid it.

    In the context of this discussion, though, I think the word "trigger" is being co-opted (not by you, Harlequin, to be clear!), and actually used to attempt to trivialize a real problem. The books I've seen tagged as controversial aren't tagged because someone came across the literary version of a car backfiring; they're tagged because people are finding them to be clumsy, inaccurate, or offensive representations of issues affecting those not part of the dominant culture. Using the word "triggered" here is (IME) often an attempt to dismiss people's objections as personal sensitivities, rather than considering the possibility that the author just got it wrong.

    It's not unreasonable to critique a book from a cultural perspective, and given the frequency that this issue comes up, I'm not really feeling like authors are being silenced, at least not by publishers. The issue of internet pile-ons - and critiquing books you haven't read - is a different ball of wax.
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  21. #21
    ....... Harlequin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizmonster View Post
    I'm not sure where people are seeing all these specious trigger warnings. I see them primarily on forum posts, here and therabouts, and I read about them happening at universities, but not often (and, with a few exceptions that I tend to read with skepticism, handled fairly reasonably). The only common trigger warnings I see are movie and TV ratings, which are indeed crude, but not entirely useless.
    And I'm not clear how they harm anyone. Back in the stone-age days of Usenet, they were pretty common. And they didn't restrict what you could talk about - they freed you up to write as vividly as you needed to, because you didn't have to worry about people sensitive to your subject matter - they weren't reading, because you'd already warned them off. Trigger warnings expanded what you could comfortably discuss. (JetFueledCar, your experience describes exactly the usage I'm accustomed to.) [/quote]

    My experience of them comes from social media and other online forums. In leftwing political groups, natural parenting (and related) social groups, and a couple debate forums online, I've encountered them a lot. I don't feel, as a surmisation of those whole experiences, that they expanded anything particularly, but I'm willing to accept that I'm somewhat more detached than the average.

    My preference would be to see warnings for things people can't reasonably expect warnings for--ie links which don't have clear descriptions, or stories which take a sudden unexpected turn (Madoka Magica might count for the kind of thing I mean, if you watch any anime.)

    Yes, people with mundane triggers aren't protected. Although it's a favorite strawman in certain circles, most people understand it's impossible to protect everyone from all traumatic memories. The point of the trigger warning is to indicate that you're going to be presenting something that might reasonably be considered upsetting to a large percentage of the community, and to give your audience a chance to avoid it.

    In the context of this discussion, though, I think the word "trigger" is being co-opted (not by you, Harlequin, to be clear!), and actually used to attempt to trivialize a real problem. The books I've seen tagged as controversial aren't tagged because someone came across the literary version of a car backfiring; they're tagged because people are finding them to be clumsy, inaccurate, or offensive representations of issues affecting those not part of the dominant culture. Using the word "triggered" here is (IME) often an attempt to dismiss people's objections as personal sensitivities, rather than considering the possibility that the author just got it wrong.
    Fair points!

    It's not unreasonable to critique a book from a cultural perspective, and given the frequency that this issue comes up, I'm not really feeling like authors are being silenced, at least not by publishers. The issue of internet pile-ons - and critiquing books you haven't read - is a different ball of wax.[/QUOTE]
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  22. #22
    tiny hedgehog JetFueledCar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizmonster View Post
    And I'm not clear how they harm anyone. Back in the stone-age days of Usenet, they were pretty common. And they didn't restrict what you could talk about - they freed you up to write as vividly as you needed to, because you didn't have to worry about people sensitive to your subject matter - they weren't reading, because you'd already warned them off. Trigger warnings expanded what you could comfortably discuss. (JetFueledCar, your experience describes exactly the usage I'm accustomed to.)
    This is pretty much it. It also has to do with the venue and format. In my case, not only do I know that child abuse of all forms is triggering to a large number of people, I know that the website I'm posting on has a higher-than-average number of such people, and I know that some of my readers have made comments suggesting they're reading this from personal experience. So when it came to a chapter where my main character had a full-blown breakdown, I warned them. And one of my readers specifically said that because of the warning, they did keep reading. They read the whole chapter, taking frequent breaks to take care of themself and calm down. In a normal novel, I'd probably try to make clear in the book jacket copy that this was seriously dealt with, because I don't have the liberty of printing easily-skipped trigger warnings at the beginning and end of every chapter. If it wasn't part of the actual premise of the book the way it is in the story on AO3, it would get a lot harder. Thankfully(?), my online works are always much more graphic and triggering than what I write for publication.

    But I do agree with you that this is being used to trivialize the actual issue. It's likewise being used to trivialize triggers, but that's not the original topic of this thread. I'd be happy to carry on the discussion in a new thread.

    Regarding the actual topic, I don't necessarily think I need to avoid a book completely because it might contain offensive content. Neither, however, do I need to finish the book once I've read enough to know it's offensive. Just like how, having seen how Arrow introduces and handles Chase and Ray Palmer, I don't have to continue watching that. (Love Ray in Legends of Tomorrow. Spend most of Arrow wanting to punch him.)
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    In the Batman movies in the 60s, the Batmobile was designed to run on jet fuel. It looked cool and went fast but it could only run for about 7 seconds at a time. So now you know why a hyperactive project-hopping writer is called JetFueledCar.

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  23. #23
    is watching you via her avatar jjdebenedictis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harlequin View Post
    This is the point at which I think trigger warnings massively backfire. For individual friends we can be courteous and sensitive. For a wider population, I think the concept does more harm than good by making judgements on what is or isn't acceptable trauma. I tend to feel it would be better, in the context of writing for a wider population, to let people put their own boundaries in place re written content.
    I have to disagree; to me, a trigger warning is like an allergy warning on packaged foods. If someone is deathly allergic to nuts, then it's their responsibility to figure out how to navigate the world without winding up dead of anaphylaxis, but at the same time, it's very courteous of manufacturers to put little icons on their packaging to say whether something contains nuts or is safe.

    As someone who is allergic to mushrooms, and therefore has to beady-eye the ingredients list every single time because there ain't no allergy warnings for that, I've never felt society was telling me my allergy isn't "acceptable". In fact, that seems weirdly entitled and self-centred to me. Sometimes you've gotta just accept that you're a weirdo and you'll have to figure out how to navigate the world safely on your own. That's the default state, after all--having your fellow human beings help you out is very nice, and much appreciated, but it was never an obligation.
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  24. #24
    ....... Harlequin's Avatar
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    But again, that's predicated on the assumption that other kinds of triggers are in the minority, as mushrooms is compared to peanuts.

    It's also not a direct comparison. Two people could be very adversely affected by physical violence, but for one of them that might manifest as a fear of being alone; for another it could manifest as an irrational phobia of green sweaters, or a certain brand of beer. This is why I don't think your peanuts comparison works on any level.

    There is nothing to prevent anyone from being nice, but in any case suggesting people should adapt to be "weirdos" doesn't sound particularly inclusive to me. I appreciate that's probably not what you were going for, but it did kind of read that way.

    Anyway, I'll stop derailing. Ignore me and carry on.
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  25. #25
    practical experience, FTW neandermagnon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoSpeed View Post
    on how authors and readers are being pressured to not read or write anything that may offend others.
    I'd say the complete opposite is happening as in there's more a trend for pushing the boundaries in the other direction. "The Human Centipede" springs to mind.

    Back in the day, "Lady Chatterley's Lover" was banned. But it's very, very tame by modern standards. People have been pushing the boundaries of what's offensive to the point that someone's now actually came up with the human centipede concept. (If anyone doesn't know what it is, be aware before googling that it's... that bad there isn't even an adjective for it. Not one that I feel does it justice, anyway.)

    The only thing where it's moved in the other direction (from what I can see) is when it comes to bigoted things like racism and homophobia. Society in general is a lot more aware of the harm done by bigotry, and that's a very good thing!

    If someone's being deliberately hurtful and offensive to marginalised groups and will take the hit in the book sales and ride the storm of criticism, that's up to them (but they'll come across as a total bigot and if they start whining about "PC crap" in response to being criticised... that's just... *rolls eyes*) but if someone's doing that by accident - as often seems to be the case - well they probably ought to be advised regarding how what they've written will be taken.

    Personally, I'd much rather someone called me out if I was accidentally offending people. I want to live in a society where things like being marginalised or discriminated against because of things like ethnicity, gender, disability and sexuality doesn't happen, so of course I don't want my words or actions making things worse.

    And if I'm going to offend someone, I want it to be when I'm doing it on purpose or at least knowingly.

    There are things in my books that I know will offend some people, and I don't care. The difference for me is who is being offended and why it's offensive. I don't want to add to the various racist, homophobic, sexist, ableist etc crap that people have to deal with on a daily basis. However, if I offend someone because what I write goes against something they choose to believe (like if someone who's homophobic doesn't like it that my young male MC has a love affair with another young man) then that's tough shit. They can learn to live with it or choose not to read it. They can even try to get my book banned if they like. It's not going to make me stop writing it. And I've never had anyone advise me otherwise - which is why I find it hard to believe that any "write what you want/PC PC PC PC PC PC blah" statement is anything other than "I don't like it when people call me out for writing something that's bigoted". (Acknowledging that it may be accidental bigotry not deliberate.)

    Also, let's say (for example) I asked for advice about how to write a character from a marginalised group in a way that's supportive and not offensive, I'd find it rude if someone responds with something like "don't let the PC brigade (or whatever nasty epithet gets used nowadays) curtail your freedom to write what you want." Yeah, cause I'm already writing what I want...? I thought good writing was about getting the intended ideas across and not accidentally saying something completely different that you didn't mean. Like if you meant to say "New York is a great city" but you accidentally say "I am a fish" then that's crap writing. If you ask someone whether "I am a fish" adequately conveys the greatness of New York, the correct answer is "no", not "don't let the PC brigade curtail your freedom to write what you want".
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