Category Archives: censorship

The Clean Reader App Uproar

Censored stampUnless you’ve been hiding under a rock (or editing your manuscript, or are on safari in the depths of the DRC) you’ve probably read about the uproar surrounding the Clean Reader App. I’ve read several posts about it and thought I’d share the two I enjoyed most: Charlie Stross and Chuck Wendig.

Gotta say, Ernest Hemingway’s turning in his grave right now. I remember picking up a used copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls years ago and being puzzled by his word choices (unmentionable was used several times in place of his original text. I freely and somewhat sheepishly admit it took me a couple of pages before I realized I had a censored copy as I’d never run across one before.) The replacement words absolutely destroyed Hemingway’s intent, not to mention totally messed with my reading experience. Talk about jarring…

Thankfully, Mark Coker over at Smashwords has requested all SW books be removed from the app. Personally, I’d love for the Clean Reader App to disappear in a flood of legal challenges. I choose the words I use in my work specifically for rhythm and flow and effect, and if that includes profanity, well, then that’s what I’m going to use. If you don’t like it, then PLEASE don’t buy my books.

UPDATE*** Thanks to authors around the world flooding these folks with take down notices and comments against this insidious app, they’ve removed all books from their online store. A small victory, but a victory for literature nonetheless.

 

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Is Gender Bias Really Changing?

File:"Top Women" at U.S. Steel's Gary, Indiana, Works, 1940-1945.jpgThere’s a particularly rousing discussion going on in the comments over at Indies Unlimited regarding gender-bias in fiction, and it got me thinking (always a good thing from a blog post). In contrast to many of the comments, I see things as having changed a lot since I was a kid (admittedly, that was a loooong time ago).

My mother got married and raised a family in the 50s (and absolutely hated the times) and vowed to bring up her two daughters as people who could do anything they wanted to, regardless of gender (Dad agreed, obviously). Yes, I’ve come up against a shit load of gender bias throughout my lifetime, but when I look back, I can see the tide definitely turning, at least here in the States. (Re: here’s a blog post I wrote celebrating kick ass women in the movies) Most people I talk to accept strong women as normal and necessary. Yes, there are still stories where the male is the equivalent of Underdog and is all, “Here I come to save the day” but most women I know hate the stereotype and will usually avoid reading/watching/spending their money on those kinds of stories. Now, I can’t speak for other countries–I realize women’s rights are abysmal all over the world and we need to keep agitating and holding the perpetrators responsible–but, why not celebrate the achievements?

What do you think? Have we come a long way as a culture or am I just looking at the issue through rose-colored glasses?

 

 


A Ranty Waste

Midsummer bonfire closeupI’ve been noticing that more things than usual are pissing me off lately. Most of the time when something pisses me off I write a book. Say, like when I watched a documentary on child sex trafficking and was so appalled I had to set the anger free by writing Bad Traffick. Or when I learned about the escalating violence of drug cartels and how they’re pretty much ruining life for a whole lotta folks in Mexico and beyond and all they really care about are how they look in a selfie on Facebook. And, of course when women perpetuate the whole “I need a man to become complete” myth, or, better yet, when one of us sets feminism back hundreds of years in one fell swoop (Fifty Shades of WTF anyone?).

But lately, there’s just been too much and really people, I can’t fucking write that fast.

Rant #1: Here in the US our politicians can’t figure out how to be politicians, or, you know, grow up and actually govern the country. And, they get paid a lot of money to act like schoolyard dickwads, not to mention enjoying paid-for-by-the-government health care (cue the irony theme). When I look at the leaders for both parties I can’t help but get a mental picture of two spoiled little white boys with snot running down their noses and sucking on their bottom lip in a pout because the other side won’t play by their rules. Waaah.

Rant #2: How celebrities like Miley and Kim and Paula Deen can suck the life out of the headlines when there are people in the Philippines who don’t have any clean drinking water or medical suppliesĀ and how hundreds are dying because we can’t get supplies to them fast enough.Or when people are selling their kidneys so they don’t have to live underneath someone else’s squalid shack.

Rant #3: And, the ever present fact that the only thing large corporations are concerned with is the bottom line, e.g. profits, screw being honest or neighborly or even giving a rat’s ass about their customers. Don’t get me started on how most corporations treat the environment, not to mention a whole lotta people who either just don’t get it, or don’t care. One earth–capiche????

And yes, I’ve been a daily meditator for several years now and should be able to relax and be all ohm and shit, but some days I. just. can’t.

The latest thing that set me off was an article about how a percentage of writers in the US avoid using the Internet to research certain subjects because of fears of the NSA spying on them. Seriously? What the hell happened to the proud tradition of writers bucking the system? Of being subversives? Of fighting back? When I read that article it pissed me off to the point that I had to do something, so I went to the pool and swam laps. Hard. I stopped (mostly) self-medicating years ago and swimming is now my go-to release. It took the edge off, but as I sit here at my computer I can still feel a flame of anger flickering in my gut when I wonder, if what these writers were doing was legal and forĀ research, why anyone in the US would remain silent because they were afraid of a government agency watching them?

That’s so unbelievably scary, I can’t tell you. That tells me that Americans are becoming afraid of their government. My first response to the article, other than anger, was to assume these writers were wimps–scaredy pants, namby-pamby (insert wussy word here) milquetoasts who would jump if someone said boo.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized my knee-jerk reaction (love the ‘jerk’ part of that saying) of calling these folks whom I don’t know wimps was wrong. I’m a HUGE proponent of fighting back: if you’re being attacked, however that attack is being carried out I believe it’s your responsibility to fight back with all you’ve got. Yes, there are some times when you need to pick your battles, but in general, fight the asshats trying to keep you down.

But this is different. This avoidance of using the interwebz goes deeper than that. Now we all know the NSA has overstepped its bounds, and has done so probably since its inception. But it hasn’t really affected most law-abiding citizens in a quantifiable way. However, when I hear or read that writers in the US are modifying their behavior because of fear of retaliation from the government, that makes me sit up and take notice. Mainly because I consort with a lot of writers, and almost every one of them has a least a modicum of rebelliousness in their bones and will do whatever in hell they want to. Some are nice about it, some aren’t. Some go the passive-aggressive route and act nice but end up doing some seriously un-nice things. But I’ve never heard one of them say they were afraid of what the government would do to them, unless what they were doing was illegal. But here’s the results of a poll of 520 writers where 16% admitted to curtailing their online activities because of fear of the NSA.NSA-square

My friends will tell you that yes, I’m opinionated, but am certainly not given over to hyperbole or conspiracy theories. I understand writers/journalists in China, or Iran, or Mexico being afraid–death or torture is a real possibility in those countries. But the US is supposed to be different. Americans are supposed to be different. It’s a slippery slope to censorship and clamping down on freedom of expression. I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, but it does give me pause.

I’m really interested in what people think about this. Is this some paranoid delusion rearing its ugly head in response to me killing all those little brain cells so many years ago, or do we need to be a little more vigilant, a little more aware of what’s happening in our world?As the article I mentioned above states, “It’s not the surveillance, treacherous as it is, but that some writers, at least, already appear willing to capitulate.”

In the immortal words of Winston Churchill: “…we shall fight in the fields and in the streets; we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu161337.html#edW4oJ51UtLXA8k3.99
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu161337.html#edW4oJ51UtLXA8k3.99
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu161337.html#edW4oJ51UtLXA8k3.99

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