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hopscotch
12-10-2011, 12:03 AM
Two Extremes:

one says: "readers are smart people, they'll read and make up their own minds and writers have no control over the effects that their words have on other people so censorship doesn't work."

the other says: "you can't call someone a *** at the pub on a Friday night without ending up in hospital but you can write it without being sued so they should be reigned in on what they can say."

I'm not talking about defamation laws or anything like that. I'm just saying that when someone is of a particularly strong opinion about a particular issue and writes about it and then someone else who also holds a similarly strong opinion about said issue, reads it and goes out and does something criminal, using this writing to justify what he or she has done.

People do that all the time with religious texts but there's no one left to sue, all the prophets have now long passed away.

If someone does hold an extreme position on a subject matter and expresses that opinion in writing, should he or she be held responsible for "inciting hatred/propaganda/revolution/etc..." or is the responsibility for whatever eventuates from said piece of writing totally in the hands of the reader/crime doer?

Devil Ledbetter
12-10-2011, 12:19 AM
Two Extremes:

one says: "readers are smart people, they'll read and make up their own minds and writers have no control over the effects that their words have on other people so censorship doesn't work."
Censorship does work, and that's why I'm against it. Yes, let the people read what they want and make up their own minds.

Otherwise, those deciding what is "suitable" to read become far too powerful.


the other says: "you can't call someone a *** at the pub on a Friday night without ending up in hospital but you can write it without being sued so they should be reigned in on what they can say."Huh? It's not against the law to call somone an a*** but there may be social consequences. Certainly their are legal consequences for putting someone in the hospital, which is far worse behavior than name calling.

And I know you said you don't want to talk about libel, but there is legal recourse when someone trashes us in print.


I'm not talking about defamation laws or anything like that. I'm just saying that when someone is of a particularly strong opinion about a particular issue and writes about it and then someone else who also holds a similarly strong opinion about said issue, reads it and goes out and does something criminal, using this writing to justify what he or she has done.The person who commits the act is responsible for the crime, regardless of whether the criminal tries to fingerpoint or blame shift in the writer's direction.


People do that all the time with religious texts but there's no one left to sue, all the prophets have now long passed away. You're new around here, so let me caution you that insinuating the religious use texts to justify criminal acts "all the time" won't fly. *gets out 10-foot pole, pushes paragraph into gutter*


If someone does hold an extreme position on a subject matter and expresses that opinion in writing, should he or she be held responsible for "inciting hatred/propaganda/revolution/etc..." or is the responsibility for whatever eventuates from said piece of writing totally in the hands of the reader/crime doer?The crime doer takes sole responsibility for his behavior. What we read and how we behave afterwards are entirely within our control.

Welcome to AW.

LindaJeanne
12-10-2011, 12:22 AM
You're conflating two questions:

* What moral responsibility do writers have as to how people respond do their words?
* What legal responsibility should writers have to the same?

A lot of people will give the same answer to both, but they are still separate questions.

But more to the point: A potentially inflammatory question as a first post? That's often a warning sign... :troll

The Lonely One
12-10-2011, 12:29 AM
But more to the point: A potentially inflammatory question as a first post? That's often a warning sign... :troll

Possibly. But maybe the poster just wants to know what people think about censorship.

Although I don't doubt there are probably a ton of posts here on the subject (points to search function).

For me, the absurdity of censorship (while sometimes well-meaning) can be exemplified by looking no further then the MPAA.

Al Stevens
12-10-2011, 12:31 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hit_Man:_A_Technical_Manual_for_Independent_Contra ctors

The Lonely One
12-10-2011, 12:37 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hit_Man:_A_Technical_Manual_for_Independent_Contra ctors

http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/267356/i-just-read-a-bookfor-nothing

Also (not a great source but the most immediate one re:Fight Club bomb making)
http://www.bebo.com/BlogView.jsp?MemberId=518325&BlogId=2106785464

scarletpeaches
12-10-2011, 12:44 AM
The true test of your support for freedom of speech is to ask yourself, "Would I defend someone's right to express an opinion I find objectionable, even repugnant?"

jjdebenedictis
12-10-2011, 12:48 AM
I believe in freedom of speech, so the only speech I believe should be censored is that which promotes violence as a way to silence others.

I.e. If you're trying to undermine freedom of speech, then you lose your right to it (although only in regard to your attempts to undermine it.)

Al Stevens
12-10-2011, 03:22 AM
The true test of your support for freedom of speech is to ask yourself, "Would I defend someone's right to express an opinion I find objectionable, even repugnant?"

Yep.



In her biography on Voltaire, [Evelyn Beatrice] Hall wrote the phrase: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" (which is often misattributed to Voltaire himself) as an illustration of Voltaire's beliefs. Hall's quote is often cited to describe the principle of freedom of speech.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evelyn_Beatrice_Hall

gothicangel
12-10-2011, 01:35 PM
I believe in freedom of speech, so the only speech I believe should be censored is that which promotes violence as a way to silence others.

I.e. If you're trying to undermine freedom of speech, then you lose your right to it (although only in regard to your attempts to undermine it.)

Maybe I'm reading this wrong. But basically you're saying you only believe in freedom of speech, but only if it agrees with your own view?

That is not freedom of speech.

shaldna
12-11-2011, 04:41 PM
Firstly welcome to AW. You should have a look at the Newbie forum and introduce yourself and have a read of the stickies there to get up to speed with how the place works
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=27



Two Extremes:

one says: "readers are smart people, they'll read and make up their own minds and writers have no control over the effects that their words have on other people so censorship doesn't work."

I guess it depends on what you mean by 'censorship'. If it's censoring a swear word to protect delicate ears then it's pretty pointless and ineffective.

Censorship can be much more extreme than that though, and often readers intelligence doesn't factor into the equation at all.

Censorship comes in many forms, and some are extreme. COnsider Chinas internet censorship, or the high levels of media censorship in North Korea, or the restrictions place on Cuban media. These are all forms of censorship.

What needs to be considered is that censorship is not just a moral issue, often it can a political issue too.



the other says: "you can't call someone a *** at the pub on a Friday night without ending up in hospital but you can write it without being sued so they should be reigned in on what they can say."

The difference here is that in writing you are one step detached from the immediate consequences.



I'm not talking about defamation laws or anything like that. I'm just saying that when someone is of a particularly strong opinion about a particular issue and writes about it and then someone else who also holds a similarly strong opinion about said issue, reads it and goes out and does something criminal, using this writing to justify what he or she has done.

Unless the writer worded things in a way that could be said to incite violence then it's not the writers fault.

For instance, just because I've seen Hostel doesn't mean I'm going to go out and start killing tourists.

As a writer, hell, as an individual person I am not responsible for anyone else's action or thoughts, only my own.



If someone does hold an extreme position on a subject matter and expresses that opinion in writing, should he or she be held responsible for "inciting hatred/propaganda/revolution/etc..." or is the responsibility for whatever eventuates from said piece of writing totally in the hands of the reader/crime doer?

There is a difference between strong opinions and propaganda.

Margarita Skies
12-11-2011, 06:26 PM
Since I don't know exactly what you mean by censorship and readers, or where you're trying to get...


I don't write what publishers consider no-nos. That is,


Pedophilia
Necrophilia - sex with a dead person, werewolves and vampires excluded of course...
Incest (some publishers allow it, although I've come to find that at least on the web, eXcessica is the only one) and while I don't get into the details of the act, I write about the eternal consequences of that behavior.)


And my personal one I don't write because I don't want to... Sexual practices that would make the reader throw up (examples and details withheld)


But my characters do curse, even when they're not angry. That's just the way they are. I'm not saying they say the f-word every five seconds or in everything they say and every thought they have. I'm just saying I don't hesitate in using bad words. You can't avoid them in real life. I called someone a nasty name yesterday and that person is angry with me. That's just life. You can't expect my characters to have squeaky-clean mouths all the time. I'm trying to make them as close to real people as possible while retaining whatever superhuman ability it is they have.


For example, there's an opening scene of non-consent incest (in an intent to prove I don't approve of incest) and to further try to prove I don't approve, all the characters that descend from those two characters are sick. They have either neurofibromatosis type I, what the Elephant man had, John Merrick, or mental illnesses, or defects in their reproductive system...and the act that marked them forever was an act between first cousins, male and female, and it goes like three or four generations back from my MC's.


If my writings are ever published, readers will see I don't approve of non-consent sex. I do present it, but not in graphic detail, and I make the characters, the rapists, pay dearly for what they've done, and be abhorred by everyone in the series for what they did.


I hope I made my point without stirring up anything negative. I censor myself by being aware of things no one wants to read, even publishers, and when I do present non-consent sex for example, I only give details of how the victim feels instead of what the perpetrator does. Incest, same thing. The non-consent act between the cousins wasn't described graphically, just a "She hit him on the head, knocked him out, and raped him" kind of thing, and that's it. I do give some detail when sex is consensual, and when the characters are not underage or related. I would go into graphic detail when writing 5 years ago, but I've decided to tone it down because while sex changes my characters' lives forever and it moves the plot forward, sometimes, that's not what the story per se is about.


I know how long this is going to be, but I just wanted to tell how I do this without exactly telling other writers what to do and what not to do. If that particular intent failed, I apologize. I read incest, if authors like writing it or if they don't think it's wrong, or whatever people write I read. I just don't write it. I read it because I have no control of what someone else writes, and if the story captivates me, then by all means bring it on. I don't write it however, because I do have control. Sorry for making it so darn long.

scarletpeaches
12-11-2011, 06:31 PM
This will sound snotty, so I apologise in advance. I'm genuinely curious about this:
For example, there's an opening scene of non-consent incest (in an intent to prove I don't approve of incest)...Are you writing fiction, or a political/moral treatise?
...and to further try to prove I don't approve, all the characters that descend from those two characters are sick.Same question as above.

And you should be aware that not everyone born as a result of "incest" (using quote marks because what you call incest...isn't) has a resulting visible disability.
They have either neurofibromatosis type I, what the Elephant man had, John Merrick, or mental illnesses, or defects in their reproductive system...Some people have such illnesses/disabilities "just because" -- not because their parents were too closely related.
...and the act that marked them forever was an act between first cousins, male and female.All well and good, but this is not incest.

In this country at least, sexual relations between first cousins are perfectly legal and morally acceptable.

So you should be aware that in your moral judgement of such unions, you're likely to piss off a huge chunk of the population. If you're okay with that, fair enough, but what you call incest...often isn't.

Margarita Skies
12-11-2011, 06:35 PM
Second reply to avoid making the first one longer than it already is...to summarize in an attempt to avoid misinterpretation and confrontation...

I don't avoid sex, I just avoid or look down upon sex crimes or practices some people consider disgusting.


But I do indulge in making my characters curse. Oh, yeah. My characters curse like sailors.


And it is my responsibility. I know I'm going to get burned if I purposely write what people hate reading. If people find certain sexual practices disgusting, like golden showers for example, I know I'm going to get burned, so I avoid it as much as I can, because I do care about the reader. That's the reason I've decided to submit absolutely none of my past or present works unless I get every degree there could possibly be in literature, sometime in the future, when I am able to go back to school.


OK, that's my two cents on this particular topic. Have a nice day everyone.

Margarita Skies
12-11-2011, 06:47 PM
This will sound snotty, so I apologise in advance. I'm genuinely curious about this:Are you writing fiction, or a political/moral treatise?Same question as above.

And you should be aware that not everyone born as a result of "incest" (using quote marks because what you call incest...isn't) has a resulting visible disability.Some people have such illnesses/disabilities "just because" -- not because their parents were too closely related.All well and good, but this is not incest.

In this country at least, sexual relations between first cousins are perfectly legal and morally acceptable.

So you should be aware that in your moral judgement of such unions, you're likely to piss off a huge chunk of the population. If you're okay with that, fair enough, but what you call incest...often isn't.


I am only writing this story to get these ridiculous and crazy characters out of my head, first of all. This is just experimentation writing. Not to be submitted to anyone. Ever. That's first of all.


Second of all, I appreciate negative reactions to my comments. Had I not wanted anyone to tell me anything about this, I wouldn't have replied on this thread. At all. When I don't want anyone to reply directly to me, I just read the thread. I don't reply, but I do hate the "No offense meant, but..." attitude, because that first phrase right there gives me a red flag that there is deliberate intent of offense, so I'm telling you straight out, I was livid when I read your very first sentence in your reply to me.


Thirdly your retorts about pissing off many chunks of the general population, that doesn't apply because this series is experimentation writing and it shall remain trapped in my hard drive. Forever, so that right there, debunked.


Fourth point: Sexual relations between cousins are legally acceptable, but morally? Oh, boy, I wish you came at my aunt with that particular retort. If I even dared to lay a hand on my first cousin, I'd be sent to the hospital, and have to be hooked up to life support, so it's NOT morally acceptable to my family or to me.


I'm sorry, but I abhorred your response. I am not writing anything political, so I deemed that smart-ass remark as downright disrespectful right there. If you're all for "kissing cousins" by all means MORE POWER TO YOU! But I am NOT up for it, and I expressed thoughts on what I don't write, and why I don't write it, and if you found it oh-so-sinful, that is nobody's problem but yours. You are so close from being in my blacklist, my blocked-users list, it's not even funny. For now, I will avoid this thread like the plague, and avoid to the best of my ability, any kind of interaction with you.

If you have any further retorts, by all means express them for the entertainment of other AW members because I am not going to read them. I am not going to get into a confrontation with someone I have never seen in my life just because I expressed my opinion and you disagreed. I hate disrespectful, condescending manipulative behavior like the behavior you're displaying, and I want no interaction with people like you. I am sorry, but this ends right here.


Goodbye
MS.

scarletpeaches
12-11-2011, 06:56 PM
...that first phrase right there gives me a red flag that there is deliberate intent of offenseNo, dear. You don't get to tell me whether or not my intent was to cause offence.
Thirdly your retorts about pissing off many chunks of the general population, that doesn't apply because this series is experimentation writing and it shall remain trapped in my hard drive. Forever, so that right there, debunked.Good for you. I was just curious about whether or not you were bothered about appearing judgemental to people who think cousin/cousin relations are okay.
Sexual relations between cousins are legally acceptable, but morally? Oh, boy, I wish you came at my aunt with that particular retort. I would be quite happy to, and I'd let her try to send me to hospital.
I am not writing anything political, so I deemed that smart-ass remark as downright disrespectful right there.It was a genuine question. It seemed to me like you were imposing your own morality on your characters.
If you're all for "kissing cousins" by all means MORE POWER TO YOU! But I am NOT up for itYeah, I get that.

I'm not the sort of writer to impose my morality on my characters though, because they are not me.
...if you found it oh-so-sinful, that is nobody's problem but yours.Pot. Kettle. Black.
You are so close from being in my blacklist, my blocked-users list, it's not even funny.I'll try to live with that.
For now, I will avoid this thread like the plague, and avoid to the best of my ability, any kind of interaction with you.Oh dear.
If you have any further retorts, by all means express them for the entertainment of other AW members because I am not going to read them. I am not going to get into a confrontation with someone I have never seen in my life just because I expressed my opinion and you disagreed. I hate disrespectful, condescending manipulative behavior like the behavior you're displaying, and I want no interaction with people like you. I am sorry, but this ends right here.You really need to take a chill pill. I was asking questions about how your morality and creativity relate to each other. If you take that as disrespectful, condescending or manipulative, I would suggest you have a reading comprehension problem.

You are, of course, completely at liberty to either report the offending post, or to PM me directly.

James D. Macdonald
12-11-2011, 07:53 PM
Definitions:

Censorship is government control of what can be published.

Used to be, in the US, that you couldn't show incest in pornography (because of Canadian postal regulations, if you wanted to sell in Canada, which US publishers did), and sex between people who were only related by marriage (e.g. brother-in-law/sister-in-law) counted as incest.

So, in US porn you didn't see that kind of relationship, even though there were no such laws in the USA.

It is also true that there was selective enforcement: You could do things in YA novels that you could never get away with in hard-core wanking material.

Beyond that, there're artistic choices. Saying you must follow your characters into the bedroom is as wrong as saying you must not follow your characters into the bedroom. Its the demands of the story that count. I've gone both ways: a line of asterisks followed by "Next morning..." and quite detailed descriptions of What Went On. Not because a government told me, but because that's how I wanted to tell my story.

Marian Perera
12-11-2011, 08:02 PM
In this country at least, sexual relations between first cousins are perfectly legal and morally acceptable.

I'm originally from Sri Lanka, and first-cousin relations are fine there too. Two of my uncles married their first cousins, and their kids don't have any disabilities that I know of (though I doubt they'd be happy to hear their parents' marriages are considered morally reprehensible).

Jamesaritchie
12-11-2011, 08:28 PM
I'm all for self-censorship, dead set against government censorship.

I'm all for parents keeping this book or that one out of a school library, and out of the children's section at the public library.

As long as I can write whatever I wish, and as long as I have the right to publish it, I have no complaints.

I do censor my own work, and refuse to violate my personal code of conduct, my belief in what's right and wrong, when writing anything. There are things I will write, and things I won't write, words I use, and words I do not use. There are types of conduct I will not portray in a positive light, and types of conduct I will.

Some of my characters are me, others are people I know, none of which matters. But the good guys act like good guys, and the bad guys act like bad guys, and the great thing about freedom of expression is that we can all write what we wish, however we wish, and publish it.

I seriously doubt anyone is going to use my writing to commit a crime, but if they do, it will still be a crime, not one I advocate, and I expect them to be punished..

firedrake
12-11-2011, 08:32 PM
[QUOTE=Jamesaritchie;6811709

I'm all for parents keeping this book or that one out of a school library, and out of the children's section at the public library.

[/QUOTE]

I'm not.

Why should a bunch of 'concerned' parents, engaged on a dubious moral crusade decide what others can and cannot read? If they insist that their little darlings shouldn't read something, that's for them to police their own children, not impose their moral judgement on everyone else.

scarletpeaches
12-11-2011, 08:34 PM
Yup. Keep certain books out of your own library if you wish -- not public ones.

I once walked into a shop run by a Muslim gentleman, with a book under my arm -- Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. He (the shop owner) wrinkled his nose and told me the book was evil. (Simply because of who the author is.)

I said, "No. Censorship is evil."

And I took my money elsewhere.

Anaquana
12-11-2011, 08:34 PM
In this country at least, sexual relations between first cousins are perfectly legal and morally acceptable.I'm originally from Sri Lanka, and first-cousin relations are fine there too. Two of my uncles married their first cousins, and their kids don't have any disabilities that I know of (though I doubt they'd be happy to hear their parents' marriages are considered morally reprehensible).

Just as a note, marriage between first cousins is legal and moral in many states here in the US (and not just in the South).

robjvargas
12-11-2011, 09:06 PM
Thomas Paine once said (paraphrased) that those who would reap the benefits of freedom must suffer the burdens of supporting it. Good call. And then there's Heinlein's quote in my signature...

We cannot predict how readers will respond to our words, and it's the height of hubris to believe otherwise. That doesn't mean we shouldn't exercise some discretion. But words are not to blame for actions. The perpetrators of the action are responsible.

James D. Macdonald
12-11-2011, 09:24 PM
Why should a bunch of 'concerned' parents, engaged on a dubious moral crusade decide what others can and cannot read? If they insist that their little darlings shouldn't read something, that's for them to police their own children, not impose their moral judgement on everyone else.

I remember when the Concerned Parents of Hudson, New Hampshire, got Shakespeare taken out of the high school library because of his Gay Lifestyle Positive message. (People in Shakespearian plays are forever cross-dressing.)

(The good people of Hudson, New Hampshire, got laughed at all over the state, and that school board got voted out at the next election, but it was Quite the Thing at the time.)

IceCreamEmpress
12-11-2011, 10:12 PM
I think libraries should have books in them that people (including children) will have a variety of reactions to.

I have never agreed with the specifics of any "get this book out of the library" initiative I have encountered. I find it hard to imagine a book I would think shouldn't be in a library.

Maybe a book that gave actively dangerous instructions to children (like a "chemistry experiments you can do at home" book that encouraged children to mix bleach and ammonia or whatever). But it would have to be at that level of imminent risk before I took something like that seriously.

Amadan
12-11-2011, 10:40 PM
It is also true that there was selective enforcement: You could do things in YA novels that you could never get away with in hard-core wanking material.

Oh, you read Flowers in the Attic too? :LilLove:

(Smiley intended to be ironic, for the humor-impaired..)


I'm all for parents keeping this book or that one out of a school library, and out of the children's section at the public library.

I'm sure you are, unless the parents' views aren't yours.


Fourth point: Sexual relations between cousins are legally acceptable, but morally? Oh, boy, I wish you came at my aunt with that particular retort. If I even dared to lay a hand on my first cousin, I'd be sent to the hospital, and have to be hooked up to life support, so it's NOT morally acceptable to my family or to me.

Your response is ridiculous and over-the-top. Most people don't want to hook up with their cousins, but there are circumstances in which it happens (usually involving the cousins not having grown up together). In your haste to be judgmental, you realize you are telling those couples and their children that they are immoral and deformed, or should be? I mean, you can write what you want, but separate your personal views from Universal Truth, and don't take reasonable questions as a personal attack.

Al Stevens
12-11-2011, 10:57 PM
In your haste to be judgmental, you realize you are telling those couples and their children that they are immoral and deformed, or should be?Not directly, because she's saying what she won't write about. Unless, of course, those couples are within earshot (pr eyeshot) of discussions such as these.

kuwisdelu
12-11-2011, 11:02 PM
Not directly, because she's saying what she won't write about. Unless, of course, those couples are within earshot (pr eyeshot) of discussions such as these.

But she is writing about it; she's just not planning on showing it to anyone, apparently.

What I'll say is that I think it can do a major disservice to one's story to write about a controversial issue that you cannot step back and view somewhat neutrally. Assuming one wants to write fiction and not propaganda.

scarletpeaches
12-11-2011, 11:06 PM
My questions were in no way to be taken as "You should write about this," or "You shouldn't write about that."

Just to clarify -- as if I should have to -- writing fiction but imposing your morality on it means the characters are thinly-veiled versions of you, and you're writing a treatise or an autobiography, not a novel.

Write such work if you wish. But realise if you judge people, those people will likewise judge you. Because "I think cousin/cousin 'incest' is wrong, so anyone who commits such a sin in my books will have horribly deformed, diseased children and come to a sticky end," isn't fiction. It's preaching.

Al Stevens
12-11-2011, 11:11 PM
But she is writing about it; she's just not planning on showing it to anyone, apparently.Take another look. She specifically said she does not write about those things, even in what stays in the cedar chest.

Al Stevens
12-11-2011, 11:12 PM
ust to clarify -- as if I should have to -- writing fiction but imposing your morality on it means the characters are thinly-veiled versions of you, and you're writing a treatise or an autobiography, not a novel.Or a one-dimensional novel with little potential for conflict.

kuwisdelu
12-11-2011, 11:15 PM
Take another look. She specifically said she does not write about those things, even in what stays in the cedar chest.

Huh? No.


For example, there's an opening scene of non-consent incest (in an intent to prove I don't approve of incest) and to further try to prove I don't approve, all the characters that descend from those two characters are sick. They have either neurofibromatosis type I, what the Elephant man had, John Merrick, or mental illnesses, or defects in their reproductive system...and the act that marked them forever was an act between first cousins, male and female, and it goes like three or four generations back from my MC's.


If my writings are ever published, readers will see I don't approve of non-consent sex. I do present it, but not in graphic detail, and I make the characters, the rapists, pay dearly for what they've done, and be abhorred by everyone in the series for what they did.

Bubastes
12-11-2011, 11:17 PM
What I'll say is that I think it can do a major disservice to one's story to write about a controversial issue that you cannot step back and view somewhat neutrally. Assuming one wants to write fiction and not propaganda.



Write such work if you wish. But realise if you judge people, those people will likewise judge you. Because "I think cousin/cousin 'incest' is wrong, so anyone who commits such a sin in my books will have horribly deformed, diseased children and come to a sticky end," isn't fiction. It's preaching.

What they said. And preaching makes crappy fiction.

Al Stevens
12-11-2011, 11:23 PM
Huh? No.
That'll teach me to stop reading when a post takes a position. You're right. She contradicted this:



I don't write what publishers consider no-nos. That is,

Pedophilia
Necrophilia - sex with a dead person, werewolves and vampires excluded of course...
Incest (some publishers allow it, although I've come to find that at least on the web, eXcessica is the only one) and while I don't get into the details of the act, I write about the eternal consequences of that behavior.)

kuwisdelu
12-11-2011, 11:24 PM
IMO, when writing, my first and foremost responsibility is to tell the best story I can. Everything else is secondary to that.

ETA: If changing something to appease others, to make my story more morally palatable to some, or out of fear for how people may react to it means the story is negatively impacted in any way, then I consider changing it more irresponsible than accepting the possible consequences of not changing it; I will side with the story every time.

Al Stevens
12-11-2011, 11:26 PM
I don't approve of murder or karaoke. But they're both in my WIP. Hang my head in shame.

scarletpeaches
12-11-2011, 11:29 PM
I've written about characters who do things I've never done. I've also written about characters doing things I would never do. Some of those things are sexually-related, others are more moral issues. I don't feel any conflict about this with regard to my own morality, because I am not my characters. If someone wants to judge me on what my characters do, let them. I have the right to form my own opinion of such idiocy.

But that's probably a different discussion, and one that's been had on AW many times before.

Momento Mori
12-11-2011, 11:40 PM
Jamesaritchie:
I'm all for parents keeping this book or that one out of a school library, and out of the children's section at the public library.

I'm not because this is allowing a minority to dictate to the majority. If a parent doesn't want their child taking a particular book out of the library, then that is their choice. A parent who doesn't want any child taking a particular book out of the library is affecting other people's personal choices.

MM

Williebee
12-12-2011, 12:09 AM
I don't approve of murder or karaoke. But they're both in my WIP. Hang my head in shame.

:D

scarletpeaches
12-12-2011, 12:15 AM
I saw Billiewee had posted and thought, "Erk...he'll be Mod Noting all over the thread."

But no. Merely ":D" and he was off, like a phantom, leaving nothing but the memory of his post and the faintest whiff of sulphur...

:D

Terie
12-12-2011, 12:16 AM
I'm all for self-censorship, dead set against government censorship.

I'm all for parents keeping this book or that one out of a school library, and out of the children's section at the public library.

This is a contradiction. A book being banned from a public library or public school library IS government censorship. That's what the word public means.

Al Stevens
12-12-2011, 12:19 AM
This is a contradiction. A book being banned from a public library or public school library IS government censorship. That's what the word public means.Yes, because so-called "community standards" have to be imposed and enforced by someone in authority.

kuwisdelu
12-12-2011, 12:21 AM
Yes, because so-called "community standards" have to be imposed and enforced by someone in authority.

I have no idea if this is meant to be sarcastic or not.

Terie
12-12-2011, 12:25 AM
Yes, because so-called "community standards" have to be imposed and enforced by someone in authority.

Not seeing your point. JAR first said he opposes government censorship and in the very next sentence says he's okay with book banning. You get it one way or the other, not both.

Librarians can't choose every book ever written, and most responsibly select a variety of books that reflect the range of those 'community standards' while, usually, pushing the envelope a bit. This isn't censorship; it's the way the system works.

A few parents taking a book to the ELECTED school board to get it officially banned from a public school library is, by definition, government censorship.

LindaJeanne
12-12-2011, 12:26 AM
Just looked to see when the next "Banned Books Week" is.

It's an annual event hosted by libraries in the U.S. where they highlight books that have been banned or challenged and encourage people to read them.

http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/index.cfm

When the PATRIOT act was passed (in the US), saying that the government could request a patron's library records, without a warrant, and with a gag order on the library not to tell anyone about it (least of all the one who's records were being so examined) libraries across the country stopped keeping records of who had checked out what when. Now most only keep track of the book you have checked out right now, and purge that information as soon as your return the book.

http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/intfreedom/privacyconfidentiality/patriotact/index.cfm

kuwisdelu
12-12-2011, 12:29 AM
Librarians: the secret revolutionaries of the world.

I love them more every time I read about them here.

Max Vaehling
12-12-2011, 03:12 AM
Interesting thread. Interesting question. I'd say I'm all against censorship, but it's a little more complicated than that.

First of all, there's a difference between fiction and political discourse. In political discourse, you state your opinion undisguised (ideally), in fiction it'll probably infoorm the choices your characters make and the situations you choose for them, but the nature of fiction is to offer a choice whether you promote it or not.

If some nutcase commits a crime, as the now-silent OP suggested, and blames it on your political pamphlet, he may have a point, depending on what your rant was. (See below about hate speech.) He's still responsible for his actions, though, and you aren't. If he blames it on your fictional characters' choices, well, that's just stupid.

Secondly, every opinion has the right to be said, and every mind has the right to be spoken. If I think an opinion is detestable or ridiculous, it's my duty to endure it and my right to debate it.

I'm not so sure about hate speech, though. In my opinion, that's abusing freedom of speech which was supposed to grant a civil discourse, not the opposite. I realize it's hard to draw a line, and I wouldn't trust any government agency to do it right. I don't think this conflict can be resolved satisfactorily. So the next best thing we can do is to keep the discourse going, which is impossible with censorship in place. And stay aware of the dangers there.

As for bullying books out of libraries, that's a clear no-no. As has been stated above, if you think you should police your children's reading, that's your right, regrettably. Bad enough. But what other people read is none of your business.

Flicka
12-12-2011, 11:04 AM
I remember my mother completely losing it when they introduced those Parental Advisory tags in the 80s because she didn't want parental advice from people she considered to be pro-censorship. Only time I think she was concerned over my reading choices was when I read the Bible from start to finish at age 9 and after reading the story of Samson asked what 300 cut-off foreskins look like. :)

When I write, I do ask myself whether violence, sex, etc is necessary or not, not because I think no one should write about it, but because I think they are powerful things and writing them badly may ruin the whole story. I do also think that my general moral philosophy shines through, because how I look on the world will affect what stories I choose to write, but certainly my characters do things I'd never do, such as incest, ritual dismemberment and kneeling to kings. If I censor myself it's because of the expected reaction from readers, but that sort of 'censorship' is what writing is all about. It means my characters mustn't act inconsequently, that certain words can only be used once or twice as well as not including gratuitous gore. But while I have aesthetic objections to those things I don't have moral ones...

Monsters grow in the dark. Sometimes we must drag them out into the light to expose them. But if you do it to admire them, it's your choice. I wouldn't but it's not for me to say that you can't. I will feel free to criticise both your moral and aesthetic standpoint though!

And if anyone approached my aunt with the argument that first-cousin marriages are morally wrong, she'd give you a piece of her mind as she's married to her cousin, but she'd never put you in the hospital because she finds violence morally unacceptable.

shaldna
12-12-2011, 03:02 PM
Fourth point: Sexual relations between cousins are legally acceptable, but morally? Oh, boy, I wish you came at my aunt with that particular retort. If I even dared to lay a hand on my first cousin, I'd be sent to the hospital, and have to be hooked up to life support, so it's NOT morally acceptable to my family or to me.

I often hear this from people with quite a strong religious opinion, who usually tend to overlook that human kind was pretty much started by incest, and that the Bible is chock full of it.

The rest of your post I'll not comment on, other than to say that, probably without even realising it, you are showing how a lot of censorship and attempts at censorship start.

One person, or a group of people, with a strong opinion, usually based on morals or religion, declare that they think certain things are wrong and should not be included in fiction - like incest etc in your post - and will state that fact loudly and clearly.

But at the same time those people are not willing to concede that others don't have the same opinions and infact welcome some of those topics. It quickly becomes a 'my opinion over yours' situation, with some people trying to control the exposure of certain elements to others.

This is actually censorship in the making, and often it's done with the best of intentions, and sometimes it starts without people even realising it.


In terms of message novels, personally I'm against any piece of 'fiction' which is nothing more than personal propoganda or a showcase for the writers politcal, religious or personal morals.

I don't like being preached to in fiction any more than I like it in life.




I'm originally from Sri Lanka, and first-cousin relations are fine there too. Two of my uncles married their first cousins, and their kids don't have any disabilities that I know of (though I doubt they'd be happy to hear their parents' marriages are considered morally reprehensible).

Marrying a cousin is often a way of keeping money in the family. We have lots of it in our family history.

Bear in mind too that when you have a small community and a limited number of choices, chances are the only available men are gonna be your cousins.

Flicka
12-12-2011, 03:32 PM
Bear in mind too that when you have a small community and a limited number of choices, chances are the only available men are gonna be your cousins.

Just ask European royalty. They've married their cousins for hundreds of years.

And reading through my post, I realise that I sound like I do censor myself a lot, but that's only partly true. I'm afraid of being cliché but not of being offensive. A lot of potentially offensive stuff, like sex and violence, can easily be very cliché if handled poorly and I'm very careful about that.

But my characters have plenty of views that I don't share (I write historicals) and my current project has them, including protags, doing things I'd never do. In fact, the idea that authors somehow promote a certain behaviour because it's in their books had never even occurred to me. I mean, I don't think Will Self is saying that it's OK to rape your husband if you suddenly grow a penis or is encouraging rape in general just because he wrote Cock and Bull...

gothicangel
12-12-2011, 03:55 PM
But my characters have plenty of views that I don't share (I write historicals) and my current project has them, including protags, doing things I'd never do. In fact, the idea that authors somehow promote a certain behaviour because it's in their books had never even occurred to me.

So true.

I'm about to sit down and write a scene in my WIP, where my MC has landed himself in the Mamertine prison, and is about to be tortured. Does this mean I condone torture and execution?

No, quite the opposite. I'm actually an active member of Amnesty International!

My MC is an imperialist, doesn't see anything wrong with slavery or his treatment of women, he condones torture as a way to gain information and he thinks execution is justified. In other words, he's a man of his time.

Probably one of the reasons, I thought to make him an anti-hero. :tongue

Ken
12-12-2011, 04:31 PM
... the psycho who gunned down John Lennon had a worn copy of Catcher in the Rye on them at the time. Was Salinger responsible in any way for the crime? Not. At. All.

gothicangel
12-12-2011, 07:18 PM
... the psycho who gunned down John Lennon had a worn copy of Catcher in the Rye on them at the time. Was Salinger responsible in any way for the crime? Not. At. All.

Was he suffering psychosis, or was he just a very disturbed person?

Terie
12-12-2011, 07:30 PM
Was he suffering psychosis, or was he just a very disturbed person?

How would that affect Salinger's lack of culpability in John Lennon's murder?

Flicka
12-12-2011, 07:56 PM
I think gothicangel merely assumes that a fully sane person would a) not kill John Lennon b) not immediately perceive the connection between Catcher in the Rye and shooting John Lennon. Were he sane as hand-sanitizer, then Salinger is still not to blame, but at least my mind finds it hard to connect 'sane' with 'just shot a person he never knew and claims to have been inspired by Catcher in the Rye'. When I read that book I felt no inclination to even pinch someone.

scarletpeaches
12-12-2011, 07:58 PM
I think the number of people who have read TCitR and not run out to shoot a Beatle proves that Chapman was at fault there, not Salinger.

Terie
12-12-2011, 09:31 PM
I think gothicangel merely assumes that a fully sane person would a) not kill John Lennon b) not immediately perceive the connection between Catcher in the Rye and shooting John Lennon. Were he sane as hand-sanitizer, then Salinger is still not to blame, but at least my mind finds it hard to connect 'sane' with 'just shot a person he never knew and claims to have been inspired by Catcher in the Rye'. When I read that book I felt no inclination to even pinch someone.

But none of this has anything whatsoever to do with the topic at hand, which is 'Writer Responsibility: Freedom of Speech Vs Censorship'.

Whether the perp of any crime (much less one as high profile as the murder of John Lennon) is psychotic or disturbed has nothing to do with either Salinger or The Catcher in the Rye.

That's why I don't understand why someone would ask about the distinction of the perp's mental state. That has nothing to do with either freedom of speech or censorship.

Ken
12-13-2011, 12:53 AM
... and let's not overlook the use of the word "worn," in my post above. The cover of Catcher in the Rye was tattered, to be sure. But the pages, themselves, were in fairly fine condition, outside of a few dogeared pages and mustard stain on page 53. So instead of "worn," how about "weathered," or "a bit worn around the edges," better yet?

kuwisdelu
12-13-2011, 05:06 AM
Maybe gothicangel was just curious?

IceCreamEmpress
12-13-2011, 07:39 AM
I thought gothicangel was taking exception to Ken's description of Chapman as "psycho", not suggesting that Catcher in the Rye was relevant to Chapman murdering Lennon in any way.

Chapman's defense marshaled several psychiatrists who diagnosed him as psychotic; however, he chose to plead guilty to the murder, so the courtroom discussion of his mental health or illness was cut short.

Ken
12-14-2011, 12:38 AM
Chapman's defense marshaled several psychiatrists who diagnosed him as psychotic; however, he chose to plead guilty to the murder, so the courtroom discussion of his mental health or illness was cut short.

... wasn't aware that the matter was central to the trial. I can see it's having relevancy in view of that. I used the term "psycho" in my prior post jeeringly, to convey my hatred for Chapman alongside of the point I was making about writer responsibility. It was hard to pass up the opportunity. No harm done. On the contrary, I learnt something new.

jimbro
12-14-2011, 07:13 PM
I strongly favor complete censorship.

But only if I get to be the censor.

You do trust me, don't you?