The word CENSORSHIP is sure thrown around a lot these days. It has a very negative connotation about it, don’t you think? But, it is really a BAD word? It was previously used primarily when speaking of government action…but the word Censor is far more widely used today.
According to Dictionary.com:
1. an official who examines books, plays, news reports, motion pictures, radio and television programs, letters, cablegrams, etc., for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds.
2. any person who supervises the manners or morality of others.
3. an adverse critic; faultfinder.
As a publisher, I have been accused of censorship on numerous occasions. These days, anybody who is denied the opportunity for publication seems to think they’re being censored. And, boy do they love throwing that word at me, threatening to expose me for my censorship actions. I guess they think I’m offended by it or that I might reconsider publishing their book because they’re threatening to “out” me as a censor. No, I’m not offended and, no, I won’t reconsider their manuscript.
Here are some examples of when I’ve been accused of censorship.
1. Refusing to work with convicted felons
2. Refusing to publish memoirs by people simply looking to trash their ex or someone else in their past
3. Refusing to publish ridiculous government conspiracy theories that could never be proven – you would not BELIEVE some of the stuff we see! (“The president himself gave me to space aliens for scientific study!”)
4. Refusing to publish items that might directly or indirectly hurt innocent people
5. Refusing to publish books that teach people how to perform illegal activities
6. Refusing to publish blatant, unsubstantiated, hurtful lies about someone (this includes WritersWeekly Whispers and Warnings. We frequently see this when a publisher attacks a writer’s character just because they complained about not being paid.
7. Refusing to publish fiction that portrays child abuse, extreme pornography, or anything that would grossly offend the majority of people
(Unfortunately, many of our competitors are more concerned about quantity than quality and they do publish some of these things…but that’s another article altogether.)
Anyway, there are many forms of censorship. For example, one form of censorship is meant to protect children from things they may be too immature to understand and process while another form of censorship is meant to protect military secrets. Who are the people/organizations censoring information?
I guess I could be accused of religious censorship. I won’t publish a book on Satanism. However, I will publish a book on Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, or any other religion that teaches people to be good. (Satan isn’t really well-known for his good works – ahem.)
I won’t publish a celebrity tell-all book because those are designed to make money at the personal expense of someone else.
I won’t publish a book by an ex-government official that gives out military secrets that might directly or indirectly harm our troops someday. You wouldn’t believe how many ex-military and ex-government officials – even government contractors – have a book in them – and an ax to grind!
I won’t publish a pro-abortion book. You don’t even want me to get started on that topic.
Alcoholics Anonymous doesn’t hand out coupons to the local bar. Are they censors?
Schools don’t have Playboy in their libraries. Are they censors?
The local library blocks adult websites from their computers. Are they censors?
The local Republican Party doesn’t hand out Vote Democrat bumper stickers. Are they censors?
When a mother utilizes the Parental Control option through her cable TV service, is she a censor?
Iran, China, and other oppressive governments blocks access to specific websites. Are they censors?
Since all the examples above feature someone trying to either protect someone else from something, or someone trying to sway someone to their way of thinking by suppressing information from any opposing side, or someone trying to hide something from someone else, then all of these people/entities could be considered censors.
You see? Censorship is not always bad…and it’s not always good. Each example of Censorship must be judged on its own merit…which is funny considering Censorship itself is a process of judgment. Censorship is bad if it hurts people but good if it protects people. But, who is the judge of what is good and bad for a person or a person’s children? You are!
So, am I a censor? Well, yes, I guess I am! And, I’m glad I live in a country that lets ME decide what I will and will not publish based on MY moral standards.
Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the President and CEO of BookLocker.com and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.
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Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!