Is It Ever Okay to Ban Books?

You would think the automatic, short answer to this question would be a resounding “NO”, and you would be correct… ninety-nine percent of the time. There is the rare book that should be banned for promoting hatred, but unfortunately, these tend to only be published within private circles. The good thing about that is they’ll probably never reach the mainstream public, but the bad thing is that someone thought it necessary for hate lit to exist in the first place, and also that they sometimes slip into the library of public domain if they’re old enough or the copyright has expired. Who would ever want to own the copyright for a piece of hate lit is beyond me, though.

When you consider most classics were banned somewhere simply for being honest about uncomfortable topics, or “brazen” with their writing styles, it really makes most controversies with books seem pointless. I think that there are cases where toning down content or mild censorship for a specific audience are okay, or even a good idea. But it should always be the decision of the author to do so. Massacring the hard work of another because of your own cowardice is the sin of sins, to me.

What brought the question up is that I’ve seen a recent upswing in banning and ordering censorship edits of books within independent publishing – yes, independent books, you read that right. The avenue created expressly for freedom of content is not allowing certain books on their platforms. And before you ask, yes, it’s mostly erotica and horror being subjected to censorship. What are arguably two of the first genres to ever exist, along with fantasy, have been challenged right and left since conception. Continue reading “Is It Ever Okay to Ban Books?”

Musings on Explicit Content

The term “explicit” in the context of something that is not suitable for younger or more sensitive audiences is an interesting, and extremely loose term. One individual may think that a picture of a woman in a bikini is explicit, while another may think that only the most heinous, taboo acts of violence and sexuality are explicit. Judgment of the term varies heavily across a spectrum from mild to graphic to “why would a human make this” levels when it comes to art and writing.

Personally, I consider “explicit” content to have material that may be extremely upsetting, somewhat tasteless but not promoting harm, or has enough nudity that you couldn’t look at it at work. I agree… somewhat begrudgingly… to websites mandating an explicit filter, such as DeviantArt. Anyone who doesn’t have an issue with possibly explicit content can just turn the filter off.
However, if the website is for adults and older teens, there is no purpose in being childish like Tumblr and outright banning anything that might be explicit, even if most people would not agree that it is. I have difficulty using Tumblr that often anymore because their new filtering system seems to have broken my tag system, and little that I write shows up on the search anymore. But that’s a rant I’ve already gone through.

When does someone consider a piece they’ve done explicit? It’s a pretty different experience between visual media and writing. Most writers are very aware that their content might be inappropriate for some, seeing as they usually have a clear audience in mind, but what about art?
Artists usually don’t think of their work, at least I don’t think of mine, as something that would bother somebody else, because it just kind of happens for us without there being much thought. Nudity is natural to art, and has been since cave drawings. The beloved classics of art can get quite raunchy for their day, as well, though this doesn’t keep photos of them out of textbooks, as it shouldn’t! Continue reading “Musings on Explicit Content”

Censorship and the Modern Blog

Recently, Tumblr disappointed the blogging world by banning all adult content from their website, in a catastrophic combination of censorship, laziness and idealism.
It’s lazy censorship because it’s cutting out blogs which seriously deal with mature topics, as well as erotic art and book blogs, while completely ignoring the rampant bots and actual problematic material that the ban was supposed to get rid of.

I had developed an art blog several months ago in June that I’ve not used, I was meaning to have it take off next month but now I think I’ll just be deleting it. There’s no point, thanks to the childish ban most art’s out of the question. It doesn’t really matter if it’s explicit, apparently, as art has been getting flagged like mad.

I’ll still be updating my poetry blog, and I’ll instead be using DeviantArt and Twitter to post artwork in the new year. I’ll have to back up my poetry here though in case there’s any naughty prose, according to their automated censor, or whatever. I am very disappointed in Tumblr, to say the least. None of the problems were solved, but some fresh new ones were born and a lot of bloggers’ hard work was basically flushed down the toilet. Disastrous.