Monday, November 15, 2010

From Censorship to Politics

The newest controversy that has erupted in the book world over this past weekend was regarding Amazon selling a certain title that promotes pedophilia. At first I opted not to make a blog post discussing this highly volatile topic that crosses over both moral and legal ground as well as that thing that any good book blogger hates - censorship. One thing that I learned when working in a book store is there is nothing better to getting a book sold than surrounding it in controversy. The tabloids are testament to the celebrity belief that any publicity is good publicity, and I had no interest in increasing the sales of this book by describing all the reasons why this book should not have been written, published, marketed, or sold.

BUT THEN... I came across a very good article discussing the controversy quite fairly in my opinion, as it made many valid points that did cross my mind when I first learned about it. I consider myself to have a strong moral background, so my first instinct is to get rid of it. The fact that pedophilia is illegal only supports that instinct more, and I do sincerely hope that someone finds a way to bring the law down on the author of that book. But it is good to remember that companies like Amazon do not operate from a basis in morality, but from a business-oriented perspective.

As a life-long bookworm, it is easy for me to completely and vehemently oppose censorship of literature in theory, but when it comes to practicing what I preach, questions start popping up that I don't know how to answer. History demonstrates what happens when censorship becomes louder than free speech, and many books have been written about the topic, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 being a perfect example. And yet, in humanity's quest to control the uncontrollable, literature is often the first to suffer. The United States of America was originally founded on the principles of Christianity, but it has strayed far and wide since then, with the current president openly mocking Christianity. The law was once based on morality, but with a lack of morality the laws become fluid and unstable, subject to those with power and money, instead of "by the people and for the people." So if literature and booksellers are subject to the laws of the governing body, how are the "bad" books weeded out from the acceptable books? And what if the laws change, are those banned books re-released to the public, with a formal apology from the government attached to each copy? (I don't think so.) And of course they must read the books in question before banning them, or are books taken before the Supreme Court and put on trial with so much sensationalism? The domino effect is quite scary when I ponder it.

What should be happening is adults living moral lives for the next generation to emulate, including reading and writing the literature that would fit into a moral life. The amoral literature would not need to be banned as it would simply be forgotten from a lack of attention. The reality is that government has stopped trusting the people it governs to make moral and law-abiding decisions, so the people have stopped trusting the government to listen to them.


Jules@OneBookShy said...

Very well put. The link to the he said/she said article is great info too.

I wasn't really sure which way to go with this topic either. So many people jumped into the fray without really taking the time to look at the issues that are at the heart of it:

censorship vs. morality vs. illegality vs. business

When it comes right down to it - the person who wrote and published this piece of trash is the one who should be held accountable and liable.

Just chiming in with my 2 cents and to thank you for a well thought & written post.


Rachel said...

Thankyou for your opinion, Jules!

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