It seems porn is big news again, thanks to the Kernel.com. This online tech gossip magazine has added itself to the list of “news” organizations criticizing Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and others of allowing self-published authors to go too far with the content they made available for sale.
Did these people go too far? I don’t know. I have my own opinions about what constitutes objectionable reading material, but I also uphold the view of Voltaire on the subject of freedom of speech:
“I may detest what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”
However, I also have my own views on what constitutes censorship and at what point freedom of speech and freedom of the press cross the line. In keeping with this, I sent this letter to Milo Yiannopoulis, editor of theKernel.com:
To: Milo Yiannopoulos, editor, TheKernel.com
In re: How Amazon Cashes In On Kindle Filth
17 Oct 13
Many self-published authors’ works have no or little erotic content at all, and erotic is not pornographic. Erotica and pornography are not and have never been the same genre
, no matter how hard or loudly mudslingers and thoughtcrime apologists have tried to file them in the same pigeonhole. The differences are readily apparent to anyone with a shred of understanding of what constitutes each genre, an understanding your author clearly lacks and which he should really make an effort to educate himself on before applying such a broad-stroke treatment to authors who dare to portray sexual matters in an honest manner, such as Selena Kitt.
Additionally, with every such “story” of this type that comes down the pike and is subsequently picked up by the mainstream media, authors are forced to wonder at what point they can expect their own work to come under fire because they wrote in a scene with consenting adults having sexual intercourse.
There is one point, and one point only, I cannot argue with in this “article.” These books and stories absolutely should not be displayed next to children’s fare. The way many large e-book distributors categorize their wares has been a concern of mine for quite some time. However, this is a failing on the retailer’s part, not on the part of the author or publisher, who has very little to no control over how their books are displayed once they hit the system.
Salacious and lurid material has always been available for those with the will and means to seek it out. Your author seems to believe that pulling items dealing with “objectionable” material will be sufficient to cure the problem. However, this ignores human nature, as well as the fact that neither I (after intensive research through a number of academic databases, I might add) nor anyone else I’ve heard from has seen so much as one credible academic study establishing a causal link between reading such material and acting upon it. Indeed, it appears the opposite is true. Many of these stories allow an outlet for safe exploration of desires that would otherwise be wholly and rightly criminal without actually engaging in such conduct.
While I myself find certain scenarios reprehensible in any medium, I am also an individual of sufficient intelligence and strength of character to do my own due diligence and avoid subjecting myself to such material. For this reason, I have neither watched nor viewed Larssen’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo or Nabokov’s Lolita, and I skip portions of the Bible which deal with such matter.
However, this is my own personal moral decision to make, and I do not have the right nor the desire to impose my morality upon others. While people can and should be responsible for their actions in the real world, fictional portrayals conducted between imaginary characters on a page are not, in themselves, criminal acts. Your “article’s” attempts to paint them as such not only wholly misses the point, but it speaks to a highly skewed and biased perspective which is both completely divorced from reality and disinterested in taking steps to correct its own ignorance.
While I personally choose not to read certain titles or types of fiction because they are clearly labeled as to their content, this is my own choice. It is my right, no, my duty as an intelligent representative of Homo Sapiens to follow the ancient dictum, “Caveat Emptor.” If I wind up reading something that exposes me to the type of content I make a point to avoid, this is a result of my own ignorance. It would be crass in the extreme to blame someone else for penning it, the publisher for printing it, or the retailer for selling it.
The bottom line is this: If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Don’t read it. If you must bewail the fact that some people harbor sexual fantasies beyond the mainstream, then by all means do. It’s your soapbox. However, before you do so, consider what harm is likely to come of your actions and what, if any, innocent bystanders could be caught in the crossfire of your moral “crusade.” The right to speak freely only retains its value so long as it is used judiciously. In this case, Mr. Yiannopoulos, you and Mr. Wilson both failed miserably.
A male romance author, without apologies
“Because children everywhere deserve to feel safe”
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For more information on what’s going on, here are some blogs you’ll find of interest:
If you have a blog talking about this and would like a linkback, just leave a comment.
Here is a petition urging e-retailers to take a more measured, moderate approach to the issue:
I wish to especially thank Cassandre Dayne, Selena Kitt, and all the other authors who have brought this alarming story to my attention. I strongly urge you not to let trolls and e-retailers dictate what you can and can’t read. Unless, that is, you don’t want to read anything with a more adult plot than Horton Hears A Who, in which case…why are you here, exactly?
Until next time,