Modern Day Censorship

Hi gang, Craig with you once more to talk about an open topic. This one isn’t a specific writing lesson. It’s more of an awareness with no right answers. Feel free to discuss in the comments later.

When we think of censorship, we think about movie ratings, an overzealous school board, or maybe even a political body of some kind. Those things still happen, but something else has reared its head when it comes to books.

I’m talking about the power of the Internet. Anyone can voice an opinion at any time these days. They can gather friends and move against virtually anything. There have been stories of targeted venom spewed at specific books or authors. More than once if your name is Rowling.

What brought this to the point of a post was the documentary “Get Back,” on Disney+. They felt the need to publish trigger warnings prior to viewing. One of those was a warning about smoking. Seems a little off-base to me.

This means there are people who could be offended by almost anything we choose to create. Where do we draw the line?

I’ve gotten reviews that knocked me down a star because of a racial slur. The story was set in 1901, and if anything, I watered it down from reality. Another reviewer knocked a book down once because of a swear word.

If we let others put us in a politically correct box, we’ll never produce anything entertaining. Fiction needs stress. It needs bad guys, and it needs broken main characters who might be able to overcome their own prejudices.

If we can’t introduce certain things, sometimes graphically, what are our main characters supposed to do?

I learned to avoid politics, religion, and parenting tips in social environments a long time ago. (These days, I just avoid social environments.) In fiction, some of those things must be touched upon. Then some crazy person shows up and accuses us of being too liberal, too conservative, anti Christian, or any number of things. It’s fiction for Christ’s sake crying out loud!

We want people to read our stories. We want them to love our stories and pine for more. Should we start putting trigger warnings in our blurbs? (Say no. Please say no.) Should we only write about happy people with no problems at all? (No is the right answer…) Perhaps all our characters should be gender neutral with no semblance of politics, religion, race, love interests, or any of that. Problems would be limited to something for IT to deal with.

Imagine trying to write about organized crime or gang violence without ever referencing race. Not to mention drugs, prostitution, or graphic bits. Can you imagine a member of the Yakuza saying, “Golly,” or “Darn it.”

Personally, I have places I won’t go. I never kill the pet character, at least so far. I try to have certain things happen behind closed doors and not in your face. It doesn’t mean I hate anything where this happens. Kind of enjoyed John Wick.

I don’t write for the Disney crowd, but I don’t write for the Chainsaw Massacre crowd either. Readers should expect some bad things to happen to good people. If I have to start including trigger warnings and avoiding things you might see and hear on every street corner, maybe it’s time to keep my stories to myself. Could this kind of silencing be what the PC crowd wants?

I’ve been parked on an African adventure that could be set during one of the Boer wars or a Zulu uprising. Hunting, even sport hunting, would be a logical part of that story. (A completely legal act.) It’s so controversial that I’ve never written it.

Indian Native American First Nations people really did massacre settlers in some instances. This violence flowed both directions, but how hard does it have to be to write about? Pick a side for your POV. The opposing side are the bad guys. Massacres happen. Racial slurs are more likely than not. Cigarettes and peace pipes were probably around to some degree. Violence is going to be part of this story.

This kind of thing is worth some thought. Where do you stand on it? Would you change history to reflect modern sensibilities? Would you change dialog into something like nobody actually uses for the sake of being PC? Should organized crime stories move to science fiction where you can blame it on aliens and make them the bad guys?

I’ve written a character who smokes, and kills a lot of people. One of my characters was a nude life model in her past. I have a character who started out as a peeping tom, but he eventually married her. My urban paranormal stories include swearing, and a portion of blood. Some of my stories involve living off the land and that includes meat. I think about this stuff, but it’s kind of low on my worry list. We’re all at risk here, but how much concern should we put into it. I have a hunch everyone’s gauge is different.

How long before someone gets to Amazon and they upgrade their algorithms to accommodate modern sensibilities? 

Let me hear from you. Let’s keep it civil like Story Empire is known for, but this is an important topic.

106 thoughts on “Modern Day Censorship

  1. Pingback: Modern Day Censorship – Nelsapy

  2. Hi Craig, an interesting post. I didn’t realise writers worried so much about being PC in historical novels. It’s probably a good thing or I would never publish anything. For my book, A Ghost and His Gold, I was sensitive not to offend people by using words that are now considered hurtful but were in common usage at the time, but I did not shy away from controversial topics. The Boers did some things that were totally unacceptable like firing cannon balls at hospitals, they also used dum-dum bullets in some cases (not all, but some). The British burned the farms of everyone, black and white, and put civilians in concentration camps if they were lucky. They didn’t even bother to put many of the black people in camps, but dumped them at the railways and left them to starve or die of illness. The British also armed some of the native populations and some of them did go around committing crimes again women and children. That being said, it is important to present a balanced view and to stay away form sharing your own opinion to strongly. I tried to do this by giving all the perspectives through the eyes of different characters. I also tried to show that many black workers were devoted to their Boer families and they fought willingly for the Boer Republics. There is always a mixture of good and bad, kind people and harsh people. That is life. In the words of President Lincoln: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amazing topic Craig. PC is gotten to the point of ridiculous in many instances. Snubbing writers for writing ugly truths is very Orwellian. Books would be robotic if they didn’t contain real life-like references, characters, temperments. I won’t worry about the masses, but the possibility of tangling with Amazon algos is concerning. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ve experienced that, in some cases, those who sound the trumpet of censorship at someone else’s creative works, that just happen to ‘incorrectly’ encroach on a particular issue, are in reality attempting to make the issue about them…”Look at what I believe!” “I stand for the proper point of view!”…that sort of mentality. Part of me feels sad for that person’s paralyzing fear of being on the wrong side of the social agenda du jour. I acknowledge that most people truly do feel strongly towards whatever they would have an artist censored for, but the people I’m describing (and I’ve encountered many of them) announce their support of that issue because they don’t want to be accused of not supporting it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: #ReblogAlert- #TwoFer #ThisWeekOnStoryEmpire & #SmorgasbordWeeklyRoundUp | The Write Stuff

  6. Okay, Craig … I’m in the middle of putting together my Sunday #ReblogAlert post, and was planning to read this week’s SE posts after I got that done, but when I stopped here to get the link for this one, I couldn’t go on until I read it. Your post and the comments it generated absolutely MADE MY DAY!! It’s so good to hear some common sense talk about the issue of censorship. I am 100% opposed to censoring art of any kind (for adults, anyway), as I clearly remember the Banned in Boston days, and even the hysterical censorship of Elvis when he first came on the scene. (Radio stations were forbidden to play his songs because he wiggled his hips. Elvis the Pelvis was an evil influence for teenagers everywhere and had to be stopped, you know.)

    I’m not going to repeat all the wonderful comments above, but I’d like to add that for me, censorship is wrong on too many levels to enumerate, and actually unnecessary at least 99.9% of the time. Possibly more. 😉 Aren’t we capable of censoring things we find offensive all by ourselves? If you are reading a book you don’t like or that offends you, stop! Toss it aside, throw it in the trash, and make disparaging comments about it if you wish. You don’t need to be told you can’t read it. You’ve just self-censored it for yourself. Leave a bad review if you want, explaining why you didn’t like the book, but don’t try to force others to agree with you.

    Writers should not be censored nor told by their publishers or agents that they must include certain topics and/or types of characters in their work. Writers should tell the story they want to tell, period. If their books offend too many people, they won’t sell. Voila. Problem solved, and without edicts from the industry or anywhere else. Frankly, that kind of censorship is far more offensive to me than anything anyone could possibly write.

    I say know your audience and tailor your story to the things they are likely to enjoy. I don’t use a lot of swearing, graphic sex, or graphic violence for two reasons: one, I don’t enjoy writing it all that much, and two my target audience doesn’t particularly enjoy reading it. But that’s MY choice, and not something anyone is going to order me to do. In fact, if it reaches the point where censorship reigns supreme, it would have the opposite affect on me. I’d immediately start adding hardcore sex scenes and hideous violence to my books just to thumb my nose at authority.

    Thanks for this conversation and for offering us a chance to share our personal feelings Craig. I’m glad I’m not alone in despising censorship as one of the worst forms of oppression there is.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Oh, that’s definitely true, but since I have limited writing years (or possibly months) left, I really need to think about sales, and the general focus of my books is usually going to be characters who are finding their way in life and love. It’s what I enjoy writing most, and I’ve got a local readership who really seem to like my books (so far). So I’ll follow along those lines, staying away from things I might have decided to tackle if I were twenty years younger. I’m not up for the controversy these days, but I do appreciate where you’re coming from on that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Also meant to say that for me, the important thing is that I write what I want to write, period. Trends, movements, and censorship don’t really play a part in the process. Thanks again for an engrossing post I’m still thinking about.

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  7. I dislike censorship, Craig… unless I’m the one who gets to make the censoring decisions, of course. Lol. And therein lies the problem… people trying to make decisions for other people. I think as writers we have an obligation to be true to our characters and our worlds, and we can’t think about who might be offended by what. If a reader finds a book doesn’t appeal to them, they don’t have to finish it and they can write a review stating why. I did include a trigger warning for one of my books where there’s a graphic rape – and ended up getting a 1-star review for swearing — apparently, the f-word was what I should have warned readers about! Lol. Oh well. Great post. It’s a topic we need to pay attention to, if only to speak against it.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. A couple of weeks ago I posted a picture on FB for my birthday. It was me as a toddler with Dad and Mom on a couch behind me. Dad had his hands out to catch me if I fell and a cigarette in his mouth. Someone (I won’t say who, though she should know better) was rude enough to comment on it. “And there he is with a smoke hanging out of his mouth.”
    This highlights the dynamics of today’s society. We seem to think we can say whatever we want, to whomever we want, with no filters. This tracks to our books, as well. If it offends someone’s sensibilities, they have no problem with letting us know in graphic terms. It can be disheartening.
    Mom told me something the other day after I received some harsh feedback from a lady in our critique group (who hasn’t contributed to the group in over a year, by the way!) Mom said to be true to myself. If I want to connect with the readers who matter, write how I want to write. If it’s too simple/sexual or not sexual/coarse or not coarse/believable or unbelievable for readers, they aren’t my fans anyway.
    I can live with that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mom sounds like a wise woman. I’m still going to write the way I prefer. I’m toying with a Native American character, but may have to compress a couple of tribes into her for the sake of the story. Not impossible if her grandfather was a member of the other group or something. Still, this is the kind of thing that sets people off.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Modern Day Censorship — Story Empire – M.H.Jones

  10. Great points regarding censorship and sensitivity. I personally disagree with censorship of any kind, but I am not against content warnings to a degree. Like you said, smoking or alcohol use or other relatively ‘mild’ subjects do not, in my opinion, necessitate a content warning. Explicit violence may be triggering to some who have personal issues involving violence, sexual abuse is certainly a touchy subject for many folks, and other forms of extreme coercion or manipulation. I think it is a fair heads-up to anyone who may have suffered these forms of treatment, not unlike how a veteran with PTSD may be apprehensive to read stories involving military operations and combat situations. Certain topics should be given awareness to potential readers, if not through explicitly marked labels, then at least in a synopsis page or listed on the back cover.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sally, I agree with every word. I am a great believer that we should judge people by their own times, not by ours. I hope we are more enlightened these days than in the past, but if, for example, it was not considered wrong to have slaves, we should not demonise people who had them.
    I’m sure there will be things that we say, do and believe, that will be considered wrong by future generations.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Excellent post Craig… I listen to those who feel that their freedoms and rights have been trampled on and feel tearing down statues, taking artwork off the walls and issuing trigger warnings will fix the issues from the past and wonder what difference they think it will make. We cannot change the past. Rather than tear down statues, how about donating time and money to the organisations trying to stop human trafficking today which is estimated at 25 million men, women and children. https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/human-trafficking-numbers

    There is a great deal right with our world, and as during all times in humankind’s history there is a great deal wrong with it too. We cannot bring about change in an instant, but perhaps if we focus more on our own individual contribution to the chaos and fix that it would be a good start.

    I will admit that at almost 70 I am a bit tetchy when it comes to being force fed ideologies, religious fervour, negation of my years as a woman, hard work and experience of life. Please don’t tell me what I can write or read, watch or comment on, believe in, and I will honour that courtesy for everyone else.

    Liked by 8 people

  13. This is a great post, Craig, and very timely. If we lose choice, we’ve lost who we are as individuals. I’m often silent about the wokeness that perniciously spreads across our country. If supporters of this movement were open and capable of true conversation (and interested in research), we’d have a different outcome. But sincere conversation or discussion is judged harshly. About a year ago, I became a fan of George Orwell. The man was brilliant. He said, “Good writing is like a windowpane.” I like that image and the inclusiveness it conveys.

    Liked by 5 people

  14. F**k that. I’m not censoring my books or adding a warning label. I try to limit the f-bombs, but not to the point of destroying characterization. As a writer who refuses to sugarcoat crime (violence is ugly; deal with it), my characters might swear or smoke or murder from time to time. They may even dismember. If a reader is offended by an honest peek behind the crime scene tape, they’re not in my target audience. 🙂

    Liked by 8 people

  15. This is a fantastic piece of writing, Craig. It should open the eyes of writers (and readers) all across the globe. I abhor censorship of any sort (unless I choose to censor myself). I write characters that smoke (cigarettes, weed, opium), shoot heroin, drink alcohol, kill, steal, engage in sex, cuss, fight, and lie. I do this because human beings do this in the real world every single day. I am not a sci-fi writer. I write coming of age, slice of life, and historical fiction. In other words, I write from reality. Jazz Baby has received trigger warnings by a few reviewers over the years. That doesn’t bother me. It’s not censorship. I am amused by the smoking warnings on TV shows and movies. I find it silly but harmless. In writing historical fiction set in the deep south, there are going to be racial slurs. Jazz Baby is set in 1925 Mississippi. It was the norm back then. No, it doesn’t make it right. But it’s the way things were back then. I cannot (and will not) re-dress history because somebody today might get offended. The old saying about “those who forget history” rings true. To remove a classic like Huck Finn from schools because the author included words deemed acceptable 130 years ago is simply ignorant. We’ve come a long way in those 130 years. But we’ve also seriously devolved. We are fearful of offending, so we second- and third-guess our work until it loses its spark. (I don’t. I write what I write and publish it.) I write to stir emotion in my readers. I want them to consider the experiences of other human beings upon planet Earth. We are not alike. We each have our own paths we’ve traveled. If we’re all alike, then what’s the sense? Life wouldn’t just be boring, it would be worthless and without value. I read a lot of biographies and memoirs because I want to learn of those experiences other people have lived, suffered through, overcame, or faltered in. Perfect happy endings are fine–if we’re writing a Disney tale or romance novels. Life in this world ends in death for every single person ever born. It’s the reality of the creation. I believe there is more to come when we leave here. Others don’t. I won’t begrudge anybody their beliefs. We’ll all find out the truth of the matter eventually.

    As for Harry Potter: J. K. Rowling writes fiction, not a witchcraft how-to series. Just keep writing. Don’t worry about the opinions of others. There are books and movies and music I dislike (even despise). But others enjoy those things. More power to them. Me? I’ll continue to turn the channel whenever Napoleon Dynamite pops up on tv.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Our world needs those kind of characters. Nobody is perfect, and stories about Mary Sue just aren’t fun to read. I will admit to pausing and assessing those F-bombs and whether they are absolutely necessary. In some ways, that’s wrong.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I dropped two f-bombs in Jazz Baby. Well-placed and, in my opinion, necessary. No need for overkill. I’ve used a couple in some short stories as well. Again, well-placed. It’s how some people talk.

        Liked by 2 people

      • It is, and it’s much more prevalent than you placed it. I don’t need to go over the top, but sometimes things are just appropriate. There was a movie once where I almost couldn’t watch it, and I grew up in cowboy country. Maybe it was Wiseguys or something like that.

        Liked by 2 people

  16. Great take on this, Craig. I see too many warnings on the things that I read, watch on TV, or choose to listen to. I know I have the choice to read, watch, or listen and I know that things could have choice language or be of the period things we don’t do or say today. I believe authenticity is important in anything.

    The past happened. We cannot undo what was done and by trying we lose what we have learned. PC has gone over the cliff. We need to be able to be true to the time period and true to ourselves. Everyone has a choice. If they don’t think a piece is good for them, then DON’T choose it. What I like and what you like will always be different. That’s what makes us who we are. We need to respect everyone’s freedom of choice, not the PC choice.

    Liked by 4 people

  17. HH and I love Agatha Christie mysteries, and we get a chuckle every time we read the list of “warnings” before we watch a Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot. There’s usually a list, and even if we searched to find what might offend us, we often miss it:) I write cozies, so sex only happens behind closed doors, no graphic violence, and no swear words. It’s part of the genre. I used the word “darn” once and a reader commented on it. When I wrote the Lux and Keon mysteries, one reviewer gave the first book a one-star with the comment that had she known Lux was white and Keon was black, she wouldn’t have bought the book. But most readers are more open-minded, and I’ve learned you can’t please everyone. Disney might have offered their warning because they’re Disney, and viewers expect certain things from their image. Same with cozies. But there are plenty of other stations and genres that are free to push the limits. And they do. And that’s a good thing. If you ever read the warnings before a Miss Marple, though, you’ll get a kick out of them.

    Liked by 5 people

  18. People have a choice what to read or watch. If it offends them, then put it down or turn it off. I had that issues with my historical fiction story. I wanted to be accurate for the times but it upset a reader I wasn’t offering the character a compliment I very much doubt a female would have gotten 100 years ago. In fact it was suggested I was harming young minds. I’m all for encouraging kids, but they need to know how things really were. I made that change but still worry about smoothing over history. I tend to stay in the fantasy lane now, especially for kids, but it worries who decides what is okay or not. People can have their opinions, but they need to remember everyone else also has an opinion too. Books should reflect that, and if you are offended with swearing or so many other things, don’t read a book by an author who does that. Great post, Craig!

    Liked by 4 people

  19. I read this article as much to see your commentary as to see how you addressed the politics of it all. You did a masterful job of avoiding it! I so wish I was that clever. Nothing to disagree with. I have a solution: Teach kids to be tougher!

    Subscribing to your blog, Craig. I think I’ve been missing out on wisdom all these years.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. This is such a timely and important topic, Craig. I’m glad you addressed it and hope many readers take the time to check it out. (Not that we’ll ever be able to change the minds of the stubborn, perpetually offended people who belong to the so-called woke culture.)

    I believe in freedom of speech. Yes, that means people have a right to condemn me and my work for being offensive. But it also means I have the right to say what I want in my work. And I strive for authenticity. Personally, I find racial slurs (of ANY race) to be offensive, and I don’t use them. Consequently, I don’t write stories set in times and places where they would be common. I don’t often read those works, either, but if I do, I know to expect that and appreciate the accuracy even if I don’t like the terms. My other choice is to JUST NOT READ SUCH WORKS. I wouldn’t give an author a bad review because of it (they didn’t create those terms), and I certainly wouldn’t start a movement to have that work banned. Individuals know what is best or appropriate for them and what isn’t, and they’re in a far better position to make those determinations than any group or law could. The consumption of art (in any form) is a PERSONAL CHOICE. It’s time common sense returns and prevails. People who are so offended they seek to burn or ban books need to think about what they’re doing. If we eliminate everything anyone finds offensive, we’ll eventually be left with nothing. And without these works to study, we’re doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

    Again, fabulous post and topic, Craig.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I put down any novel – I borrow them with Amazon Prime sometimes – if it turns out to feature ill-health and/or hospitals; I don’t want to be reminded of my own experiences. I don’t rate them on Amazon at all, unless I actually finish one because it was a great story, and then I rate 5 stars. It’s not the author’s fault there are some things I’d prefer not to read about. As you say… PERSONAL CHOICE.

      Liked by 4 people

    • You have to wonder just how big the “woke” portion of the market is. I think it’s smaller, but louder. I’m dealing with prejudices in my WIP, and there are racial slurs, but it’s science fiction and not stuff you’d find here every day.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I think it’s very small and very loud. (But that opinion is based on a tiny sample size of the few people I’m comfortable discussing these topics with, and they skew the way I think, so it’s not only a tiny sample but also a biased one.)

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Great blog. I’m struggling right now with writing about two characters in gangland London and using the F word. It’s on TV all the time, youngsters include it in every sentence yet I have this niggly feeling that I should leave it ut. Also, I’m appalled by the number of excellent and classical books on the banned list due to woke interference. Yes, the pendulum will swing the other way in UK when Muslim culture is the majority of citizens. I can’t imagine what that will do to literature.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Oh what a topic! A great one too. I appreciate you sharing this, Craig. I’ve had numerous conversations about how easily offended people are nowadays. I guess I never thought about the fiction world and how much heat it takes. For me, I believe in being realistic. Like the mention of your book with a setting in 1901. Racial slurs were real during that time. And as writers, we want to put the readers there. Even if it’s 100+ years ago. We want that realism there because it makes the book a better read. I guess for me, I continue to be baffled by where we seem to be going as a society. I could probably go on and on about this topic, but this is probably a good stopping point. lol Again, great topic, Craig!!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Such an excellent discussion topic Craig. Stories have to be true to the time period in which they’re set and that may include diving into language and behavior that is no longer acceptable. As an author, I have lines I won’t cross and certain language I won’t use, but as a reader if I pick up a book and those things occur, it was my choice to read the book. I’m not going to blame the author. I could have just as easily chosen NOT to read it.

    Many of my stories have timelines that are set in the semi-recent past (1960s-1980s) and others that are set centuries ago. Using modern phrases and ideologies for those times wouldn’t ring true. However hard society might try, we can’t rewrite history. I too was stunned by that warning on Get Back. I mean… seriously?

    I’ve got to share something else I recently heard that falls into this category. I work in Hershey, the town founded my Milton S. Hershey, a truly remarkable self-made man who always put his employees and others first. In addition to founding the town that chocolate built, he also founded a school and home system that grew from the original concept of providing education and home-living for orphan boys. Milt also liked his cigars, and in many, many photos and paintings of him, he’s holding a cigar.

    We have one such painting (a rather old one) hanging in the office where I work. Earlier this week, a vendor stopped in and said something along the lines of “Wow. Do you realize that painting is going to be a collector’s item.”

    Me: Oh? Why is that.

    Vendor: Milton is smoking a cigar.

    Me: Um…yeah.

    Vendor: Didn’t you hear? Hershey is starting to air brush cigars out of all of the old paintings of Milt.

    Me: Seriously?

    So I say again…with a huge sigh. Seriously?!?!?!

    Liked by 6 people

    • Milt smoked cigars. Air-brushing them out is crazy. Regardless that he should be remembered as the benefactor that he was, he smoked cigars at a time when it was common and that can’t (and shouldn’t) be re-written. In the 60s I wore some exceedingly short mini skirts. If they are later considered to be ‘indecent’ does this mean that when I’m famous for my block-busting novels (!) someone will add a few inches to my hemlines? I’m sighing with you, Mae.

      Liked by 5 people

    • That’s the kind of stuff that really irritates me. Hershey was likely a wonderful person, and his personal habit shouldn’t change that. I can almost forgive an earlier era who emasculated so much Greek statuary as being somewhat simpler folk, but modern America taking this path baffles me.

      Liked by 2 people

  24. Such a great topic! We’ve gone so far down the ‘woke’ road, the good that it did at the very beginning in making people appreciate how sexist and racist behaviour impacts on people, is now at risk from the backlash caused by the extremes it’s now gone to. You can’t sanitise what’s already happened and neither can you sanitise things such as contemporary language in all its cussing glory, and if you distort your writing to avoid these truths then what you’re producing is Disney and removed from genuine experience. I don’t read graphic horror and so I don’t pick up books in that genre; I expect readers to apply the same rules when choosing a book of their own. I don’t want to go back to the still-recent days when it was deemed a bit of a lark to grope women or to shout racist abuse, but I’m afraid that going too far in the other direction is creating a kick-back that risks that very thing. A much appreciated post, Craig.

    Liked by 5 people

  25. You have touched on a huge issue, Craig. As fiction authors, we should feel completely free to write about anything we want. If we start being censored, I will hang it up. I am writing a book now set in the 1940s when women were still looked on as sort of servants to men and when black people were certainly not accepted. If I am going to have to change history to write the story, then I simply won’t write it. Self-publishing has been a great avenue for authors who write about sensitive issues. You named some good examples in your own work. These over-sensitive people need to get out and LIVE! That’s my opinion and I stand behind it. I say NO to censorship of any fiction work!

    Liked by 6 people

  26. Great post, Craig! My fantasy series focuses on a rework of the biblical tale of Lucifer’s fall from heaven. I introduce a Goddess and special beings that she created. I had a reviewer give me one star and comment that my series went from fantasy to blasphemy. LOL! Perhaps he does not understand the definition of FANTASY. I just let it roll off my shoulders because you can’t make everyone happy.

    Now, with my newest release, I did put a disclaimer about sexual violence. It’s about a girl who gets raped. It is not physically graphic but it is mentally and emotionally intense, and I felt it was important to let readers know what to expect before they read it. I wouldn’t want someone who has been traumatized by sexual abuse to dive into my story and then get hit with that scene without warning (because it happens without warning).

    I feel our blurbs and our genre choices should share enough about our stories that readers can determine for themselves whether they want to read it. In turn, readers need to stay away from anything mildly triggering for them if they are so sensitive. As a writer, I am going to write my characters and my scenes as I see fit for the story in my head. I’m not going to water it down to appease a select few. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Sounds like a good stance to me. I have a story with a planned rape scene. I figured someone could stumble upon the aftermath and readers could figure it out from there. Don’t know if I’ll ever get to it, but it’s on the list.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you, Jan! When I first thought of the idea, it was over ten years ago. Even then, I was worried about its reception because it’s a YA book, but then I remembered that Speak is also a YA book that deals with rape (and was taught in some schools), so I chose to write it the way I envisioned the story. I know people who have been sexually assaulted, so I wanted to be careful with that scene. I am grateful that it’s been well-received. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

  27. I stopped reading when you said “crazy person.”

    Just kidding. I worry about some of these issues affecting the acceptance of a book that is largely set in the 1960s. I wouldn’t express it in the blurb, but I added a comment in the Preface that I didn’t expect some of the social issues of that era to resurface in the 2010s – I wasn’t trying to write social commentary. Thanks for raising this issue.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. Great post, Craig. I have had a few concerns about the move to “woke” societal norms. It is especially concerning when writers bow to the point of actually distorting history to avoid conflict. We see this wave in its extreme on social media, and it’s very much out of control. I have no answers, but if every author decides to avoid any possibility of reader outrage, we can look forward to a mountain of pap in the future. Thanks for raising this issue. It’s a good one.

    Liked by 7 people

  29. This is an excellent post, Craig, and a topic that needs to be discussed. It’s a shame that in the twenty-first century, many have created situations that, as you said, I thought all but disappeared in the 60s and 70s.

    I’m afraid we’re creating a society of robot-like creatures. (Stepford Wives comes to mind.) Have an opinion? Keep it to yourself. Fear of offending someone? Keep silent. Thinking about this makes my blood boil. Like Harmony said, when we can’t write about the things we want without fear of censorship, it’s time to get out of the business.

    By the way, my husband and I had a good laugh about that warning in Get Back.

    Liked by 5 people

  30. There are people now who work as “sensitivity readers” … even the term makes my blood boil. If all our books have to pass some sort of vetting process for “sensitive social issues” it’s time to stop writing and publishing, full stop.

    I’ve had two reviews slam FALLOUT recently because of the sexual violence. Interesting fact: two years ago, when it first published, nobody cared!

    It is not fair or reasonable to mark a book down because the content offends you. Please, just don’t read the damn book! More and more, I’m seeing folks use reviews to push a social/political viewpoint … which is a whole other issue.
    Ugh.

    Great post, Craig. Thanks for airing this topic. Have a wonderful weekend 💕🙂

    Liked by 6 people

  31. I’ve seen smoking listed under ratings for a long time. Didn’t realize they were listed as a trigger. I think originally it just something the MPAA put there along with alcohol and adult language. Something about glorifying bad habits.

    Beyond that, censorship does seem to go too far. A single swear word causing a stir is definitely an overreaction. With the racial slur, I remember how teachers now have to do a quick lesson on historical context before letting kids read ‘Of Mice & Men’. People just don’t think before they react to stories. Many jump to the worst conclusion unless told otherwise beforehand.

    Liked by 5 people

    • We’ve just had visitors. Their son, a teacher, has been suspended for using a mug with a cartoon of Mahomed on it. He has worked at the same school for 13 years and worked out he’s been on playground duty roughly 2,500 times, drinking coffee from it. IT IS A CARTOON, not a criticism of Islam. Another teacher has been in the news. He teaches Comparative Religion to teenagers. He too is suspended on the grounds he favoured Christianity! Both cases seem blatantly unfair to me, and both men’s jobs are at stake.

      Liked by 3 people

  32. Pal you just hit the nail right on it’s proverbial. Whilst I am in favour of all things being equal for all, there is a point where common sense has to prevail. Art is about expression, about looking at life through a different lens and yes, sometimes this means exploring unpalatable truths. We can’t erase history, we can’t change what has happened, but we can position it within art to help us to understand, and learn how to live with, man’s inhumanity to man.
    On a more flippant note, for the love of someone, when I read I choose books according to where I want to escape to. Perhaps the ‘woke’ folk need to take a step back and just enjoy art for art’s sake! If something offends you, fine, put it down, hit the off button, change channel, and I’m sorry your life is so small that the mere mention of smoking, (choice), body parts and sex (natural) bad language, (evereywhere!) etc is offensive. That doesn’t however, give you the right to be offensive to or about others. Is there not a whiff of hypocrisy in there?
    As a writer of ‘kitchen sink dramas’ and the human condition, censorship of my writing, like many others, would restrict subject matter, tone, character development… oh I could go on, and on! Heaven, (whosoever it belongs to!) forfend that art becomes hearts and roses, Mills and Boon and happy ever afters. That just ain’t reality!
    Great blog!

    Liked by 5 people

  33. WOW, Craig, just Wow… or maybe Goddammit, you’re right!
    I tried a warning about graphic sexual violence on my first thriller, and sales stopped dead, so I took it off. The man was a serial killer who enjoyed mutilating and dominating his victims.
    More successfully, I grouped my romance series with graphic sex and moderate bad language as “steamy” or “sizzling-hot”, and rewrote my YA Romantic Suspense trilogy as Christian. It was already “closed-door”, and Christianity strengthened the main male character’s actions.
    In brief, I write for a specific audiences and keep in mind we can’t please all of the people all of the time.

    Liked by 5 people

    • There’s a line somewhere between using “steamy” as a marketing term, and “Danger sexual situations.” Maybe they mean the same thing, but there is a huge difference. For whatever reason, there is a line we must walk until society changes again.

      Liked by 2 people

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